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What is a Cupcake?

It is easier to remove cupcakes if the pan they've been baked in has been lined with wrappers.
The recipes for most cakes can be turned into those for cupcakes with a few small preparatory changes.
A frosted cupcake.
Cupcakes are often made in silicone baking molds.
A cupcake decorated with marzipan roses.
Fondant frosting may be used for decorating cupcakes.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2014
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A cupcake is a small cake which is generally designed as a single serving. Many people enjoy making and eating cupcakes along with other miniaturized foods, and most bakeries offer a line of these cakes in addition to their other desserts. In some parts of the world, a cupcake may be known as a fairy cake, which is probably a reference to the small and dainty size.

Almost any cake can be turned into cupcakes. Some sponge cakes and tortes may not always translate as well, but in general these recipes can be converted with a few small changes. Most cupcakes are usually made in specialized pans or molds which consist of a series of interconnected cups for batter. These cups may be lined with wax paper or foil to make removal much easier, and to allow people to handle the cupcakes without getting their hands dirty.

If you are making cupcakes, you may want to read the recipe carefully to ensure that the cake batter will perform well in smaller cakes. You might also want to consider making a smaller batch so that you can experiment with different varieties, like chocolate and vanilla. Be aware that cupcakes have a much shorter cooking time than regular cake, since their volume is significantly smaller. You might also want to try playing with fillings such as jam, pastry cream, or cream cheese.

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Many children's parties feature cupcakes instead of cake because the individual servings eliminate arguments about the sizing of slices of cake. They may also add a personal element to the party, making each attendant feel especially valued. When allergies are a concern, individual cupcakes can also be made without ingredients like nuts, which some people may be allergic to. Adults may also enjoy these treats at parties, with cupcake wedding cakes being a popular item in some parts of the world.

Some bakers greatly enjoy making and decorating cupcakes, since the small size adds a unique challenge. The frosting must be carefully applied so that the sweets are not overloaded, and decorations need to be added in moderation so that the end product doesn't look too busy with design elements. Some bakers like to pipe on flowers, leaves, writing, and other elements, while others may add sprinkles, plastic models, and other fun decorations.

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Discuss this Article

ZsaZsa56
Post 11

Don't they have cupcake vending machines in a few places now? It seems like a silly idea but honestly at the right time I would be all over that thing.

chivebasil
Post 10

A friend of mine recently made what she called breakfast cupcakes. The cake was similar to a pancake, in flavor but not so much in texture, and then it was topped with a syrup flavored frosting and a sprinkle of bacon bits. It was surprisingly tasty. Not something I would want to eat at 8AM necessarily, but definitely one of the more creative cupcakes I have ever had.

JessicaLynn
Post 9

@LoriCharlie - The last wedding I went to that had wedding cupcakes also had a small wedding cake for the couple to cut. I thought it was a good solution to that problem!

LoriCharlie
Post 8

Wedding cupcakes are definitely popular these days. In fact, the last few weddings I went to had wedding cupcakes instead of a wedding cake.

I thought it was cute, and it was a lot easier than having someone cute a bunch of pieces of cake. However, that's a double edged sword, because then the couple doesn't get to do the cake cutting thing either. But I guess to each their own!

ceilingcat
Post 7

@Monika - I've noticed that too, but I just don't get it. I mean, cupcakes are okay and everything, but I don't know why people go so crazy over them. I'd rather have a cookie than some fancy cupcake.

Monika
Post 6

I'm not sure why, but it seems like people have been obsessed with cupcakes for the last few years. There are several little shops in my area that specialize in expensive gourmet cupcakes.

Also, a lot of coffee shops now sell different kinds of cupcakes too. I'm not sure why this happened, but I like it. I love cupcakes!

vogueknit17
Post 4

@BambooForest- There are certainly "cup pie" recipes on the internet, and I think some are indeed inspired by Pushing Daisies. I haven't tried them myself, because I don't really have any cupcake baking supplies or much time to bake, but I know someone who does a lot of baking and has talked about cupcake and cup pies recently too. I hope you find a good one.

BambooForest
Post 3

One of my favorite shows is Pushing Daisies, where the main character owns a pie restaurant called the Pie Hole. In one episode, he starts selling something called "cup pies"- basically cupcakes that are made using pie recipes. What I'm wondering is, does anyone know if this really exists? I would like some cupcake recipes that were reminiscent of "cup pies" and I knew worked.

anon183139
Post 2

Really appreciate this post. It’s hard to sort the good from the bad sometimes, but I think you’ve nailed it!

catapult43
Post 1

Cupcakes are fun treats for any occasion, children or adult. They are easy and quick to make. I also like them because in a way they serve as portion control.

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