Cupcakes, why are they so popular and what makes them tick? Well, cupcakes are basically what their name implies, they are cakes that are the size of cups. One of the reasons why they are so popular is because of their size. People can’t finish a whole cake by themselves, but they can sure finish a cupcake. Not only that, but they can have different cupcakes in one sitting. Bottom line? It’s the accessibility of the cupcake which has led to their popularity. Another thing that has made cupcakes very popular is each person can have all the best parts of the cake equally, as each cupcake has all of the components to itself. And ingredient-wise? They the same. The same batter, same frosting, same everything.
- The first recorded mention of a cupcake was in 1796 and this was written by Amelia Simmons in “American Cookery” describing it as a light cake to bake in small cups.
- Cup cake and cupcake are two different things. Cup cake refers to cakes that have their ingredients measured via cups/volume, and cupcake is well, a small cake.
- Any recipe that can be used to bake a layer cake can be used to make a cupcake.
- Cupcakes, due to their size, bake much faster than a normal cake. So remember to adjust your timings if you decide to turn your cakes into cupcakes.
- Cupcakes only grew in popularity in the early 21st century when small shops that sold nothing but cupcakes started popping up.
Cupcake Buying Guide
Cupcakes, while everyone knows them as those small cakes in individual cups, actually come in different shapes and sizes. Here are some of the baked goodies that are technically considered as cupcakes.
- Cake in a jar – These are becoming more popular in county fairs and farmers’ markets. Mason jars are used instead of cupcake liners or muffin tins. This gives the cupcake a unique presentation, but it’s basically the same thing.
- Cake Pops / Cake Balls – While these aren’t exactly baked in their ball forms, these are still considered cupcakes due to their size. They are usually baked in sheets and formed into balls with frosting and then coated in chocolate.
- Cake in a mug – These are usually quick cakes that are cooked in mugs. These are usually cooked at home and not sold in shops.
- A butterfly cake – These are also called fairy cake for their wing-like design. A hole is usually carved into the middle of a cupcake, this hole is then filled with the filling or frosting of choice before being covered with the cut-out piece which is usually halved and resembles wings once put back.
Cupcake Production & Farming in Texas
There are hundreds of specialty cupcake makers in Texas and they are usually found in farmers’ markets and through online listings. These cupcake makers specialize in hand-crafted and small-batch cupcakes that are baked fresh daily. Once they’re out for the day, then you’ll have to wait for the next day or market to enjoy their products. This is different from many of the store-bought cupcakes (which we won’t mention here, but you know what they are) that are rumored to last forever. These cupcake makers don’t use any preservatives as they usually run out of product to sell by the end of the day (sometimes even earlier). That’s the beauty of supporting your local artisan bakers, you’re guaranteed to get the freshest cupcakes that are handcrafted with only the best ingredients.
Preservatives, Additives, and Chemicals:
To highlight the importance of how small cupcake bakers don’t use any additives and chemicals on their products, we’ve decided to break down the ingredients of a very well-known store-shelf cupcake. Here are the things we’ve found.
- Enriched Wheat Flour – This is basically flour that has been bleached and had some minerals like iron, niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid added back to it.
- Sugar – Shelf-stable cupcakes have a LOT of sugar in them. One serving of this popular brand contains 33 grams of sugar or roughly about eight teaspoons. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams of sugar for males and 25 grams for females. One serving of this cupcake can easily put you above the maximum recommended sugar intake per day.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – Do we really need to elaborate on this one? This has been linked to diabetes and obesity in quite several studies.
- Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable and/or Animal Shortening – Oils are good, but when they are hydrogenated, you’ll get a lot of trans fats that raise cholesterol and can lead to heart disease down the line.
- Dextrose – This is basically liquid sugar and has an extremely high glycemic index, which makes it dangerous for people with diabetes to consume.
- Modified corn starch – Why can’t they just use regular starch? Well, the answer is simple: to keep the product shelf-stable for as long as possible.
- Glucose – more sugar.
- Soybean Oil – At first glance, this may look innocuous, but this is also partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
- Mono and Diglycerides – this is an emulsifier that helps bind all the ingredients together. These are often packed with trans-fats which can cause problems like increased risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Polysorbate 60 – Another emulsifier and preservative that prevents the product from going stale. In high doses, this can cause cancer and organ toxicity. Of course in the amounts that they are used, they’re considered safe by the FDA, but when we’re talking about health, you can never be too safe and you should just avoid altogether.
- Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate – This is used as a binder. While it is generally considered safe, some studies have shown that this may cause allergic reactions in some people.
- Natural and Artificial Flavor – Just what we all want, unspecified flavors. Of course, they’re pretty harmless in themselves, but it is worth noting that these could be added to cover up the taste of something else.
- Potassium Sorbate – A preservative that prevents and inhibits bacterial growth. Of course, who would want bacteria to grow on their cupcakes? Longer-term study is needed to see if there are dangers in consuming this, but just to be safe, get a freshly baked cupcake and you won’t need to worry about consuming this additive.
- Artificial Colorings – They don’t really do anything for the taste, so why add them? This is just another future problem waiting to happen.
Wow, that was long. And to think, all those ingredients going into a tiny cupcake.
Commercially produced cupcakes are usually packed in single-use plastic bags. They may also be packed in boxes, depending on the quantity of the cupcakes being sold.
For locally baked cupcakes, they’re usually packed in clamshell boxes after being sold.
The main difference is that for locally baked cupcakes, the packaging is only used when they’re sold. In commercial cupcakes, if they aren’t sold before they go bad, everything gets thrown away, including the packaging.
Eating a cupcake is simple, bite into it and enjoy. It’s just like cakes, only smaller.
Cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for a day or two, depending on their fillings and frosting. To be totally safe, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Bake Your Own Cupcakes:
If you have a favorite cake recipe, then just pour them into smaller cupcake molds and you’re good to go! But if you’re just starting out, here’s a quick cupcake recipe that can be done in no time.
Two cups flour
Two teaspoons baking powder
Half cup butter, softened
Three-fourths cup sugar
One Cup Milk
One teaspoon vanilla essence
Preheat oven to 375f and line muffin cups with baking paper/cups.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time.
Mix in dry ingredients and slowly add mixture to the creamed butter. Alternate with milk. Keep mixing until well incorporated.
Pour into mold and bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool for a few minutes then enjoy!