Food Trend: The Rise Of Cupcakes

A cupcake is a miniature cake designed for one person to eat. Traditional cake recipes consisting of flour, sugar and eggs along with flavors like vanilla, chocolate or fruit flavor are also used for cupcakes. Cupcakes are generally topped with icing made of butter, confectioner’s sugar and flavoring. It is a popular practice to decorate the tops of cupcakes with colored icing and decorative elements like marzipan and candies, much like traditional cakes. There are many different recipes for cupcakes. A great place to find cupcake recipes are cooking magazines like Bon Appétit, Gourmet and Everyday Food.

Cupcake baking surfaced in 19th century England when it became more convenient to bake many cupcakes in cup-size molds or ramekins instead of one large cake in a cake pan. Cupcakes are called such because they are the size of a teacup or because ingredients were measured in cups.
For much of the 20th century in the U.S. cupcakes became synonymous with children’s birthday or school parties, served in lieu of traditional cake, in which utensils are needed to divide it into individual servings. Cupcake recipes usually yield 12-14 cupcakes. Acceptable cupcake eating-etiquette permits eating cupcakes with hands. Cupcakes are usually wrapped in a paper or foil cup.

While traditional cupcake recipes are not particularly healthy because sugar is a main ingredient, recipes can be altered to make the dessert more healthful. Using fruit, buttermilk or pudding as a substitute for vegetable oil decreases the fat. Also, leaving off the icing decreases the fat and sugar content thus making cupcakes a healthier dessert. Find healthy cupcake recipes in cooking magazines and food magazines like Cooking Light, Diabetic Cooking and Vegetarian Times.

Recently cupcakes have made many appearances in pop culture. Magnolia Bakery in Manhattan was featured in an episode of the HBO hit TV series "Sex and the City," in which two characters devoured the bakery’s famous cupcakes and the movies Prime and The Devil Wears Prada. Celebrities have also drawn attention to cupcakes by flocking to bakeries in L.A. and Hollywood. Celebrity cupcake haunts include Sprinkles, Auntie Em’s, Sweet Lady Jane and Susie Cakes in L.A. Find other celebrity cupcake hangouts in magazines like Cosmopolitan, In Style and In Touch.

Elsewhere specialty cupcake bakeries continue to pop up across the U.S. including cities like Nashville, Austin and Chicago. The most popular cupcake flavors continue to be traditional flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, carrot, banana and coconut.

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About The Author, Jessica Vandelay
For more on magazines featuring cupcake recipes, visit Vandelay is a free-lance writer in New York City.