Showing posts with label gem pans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gem pans. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The History of Cupcakes

When I started writing the Cupcake
Bakery Mystery Series,
I happily
immersed myself in all
things cupcake.
In fact, I’ve been
haunting my local cupcake bakeries,
Lulu’s and Sprinkles, all in the
name of research and inspiration
of course, and I’ve playing with my
own recipes until I get them just right.
It’s been just brutal, as I’m sure you
can tell from the photo below.

These are my very own
Tinkerbell Cupcakes (a lemon
cake with a raspberry
buttercream icing)! You can
find the recipe on my website
which is listed below.

While writing, one of the things
I became curious about was the
history of the cupcake. Where did these little beauties come from?
Who was the clever cook who thought them up?

There are a variety of answers. The cupcake, as it has come to be known,
was originally called a “number cake” as a mnemonic device to remember
the ingredients: One cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour,
four eggs, one cup of milk, and one spoonful of soda. These cakes were cooked
in actual cups, including teacups, allowing for more even baking than large
cakes in the hearth ovens of old. Another source for the name cupcake comes
from the fact that this was the first time ingredients were measured by the
cup instead of being weighed, which saved enormous amounts of time in the
By the turn of the 20th century, gem pans, like the cast iron one pictured
here, became readily available. Designed for breads and muffins called “gems”
these pans were useful for cupcakes and developed over time much like the
cupcake itself into the cupcake tins we know today.

Because I find ingredients so

interesting, I’ve included a few

historic cupcake recipes that I

(a fascinating site)!

"A light Cake to bake in small cups. Half a pound sugar, half a pound butter,
rubbed into two pounds flour, one glass wine, one do. [glass] Rosewater, two
a nutmeg, cinnamon and currants."
Cookery, Amelia Simmons, 2nd edition (p. 48)

"Cup cake.
5 eggs.
Two large tea-cups full of molasses.
The same of brown sugar, rolled fine.
The same of fresh butter.
One cup of rich milk.
Five cups of flour, sifted.
Half a cup of powdered allspice and cloves.
Half a cup of ginger.

Cut up the butter in the milk, and warm them slightly. Warm also the molasses, and stir it into the milk and butter: then stir in, gradually, the sugar, and set it away to get cool. Beat the eggs very light, and stir them into the mixture alternately with the flour. Add the ginger and other spice, and stir the whole very hard. Butter small tins, nearly fill them with the mixture, and bake the cakes in a moderate oven."
---Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, By a Lady of Philadelphia [Eliza Leslie](p. 61)

"Cup cake. Cup cake is about as good as pound cake, and is cheaper. One cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, and four eggs, well beat together, and baked in pans or cups. Bake twenty minutes, and no more."
---American Frugal Housewife, Mrs. Child (p. 71)

There’s my short history on the cupcake. Join me next Wednesday when I talk about my
misadventures while trying to bake a mug cake in the microwave!

Jenn McKinlay
SPRNKLE WITH MURDER -- Berkley Prime Crime -- March 2010
For more recipes and information visit: