A cupcake is a small cake made to be served individually. Traditionally, the word has been applied to cakes baked in individual pottery cups (such as small teacups, ramekins or coffee mugs), although bakers now usually use muffin tins that have six to twelve depressions or “cups”. A cupcake can also be made from a single larger cake molded into a round shape, with frosting and decorations to resemble a single serving. These single-serving cakes are popular for parties, as they eliminate the need for cutting and serve easily in one bite.
Cupcakes are generally topped with frosting, although some have an additional filling in the center, such as compote, jam or Nutella. They are often decorated with sprinkles, candies, plastic models and other garnishes. Bakers can also create decorative frosting designs, such as flowers or writing, and pipe on a variety of toppings.
Although cupcakes are considered desserts, some are eaten as a snack or mid-day meal, depending on the flavor and ingredients. They are also a popular option for kids’ birthday parties because of their size and individual servings. Many bakeries also offer cupcake wedding cakes for special occasions.
The term “cupcake” evolved from two different uses of the word cake, in the 1800s: a recipe that was measured by volume rather than weight; and the type of small cake that was baked in individual pottery cups or ramekins. As a result, the original cupcakes had a loose, open crumb and were more like bread than a traditional cake with a tighter crumb.
Muffins, on the other hand, have a much more dense texture, similar to that of whole wheat bread. Their flavor can be either sweet or savory, and they may use a wide range of ingredients such as fruits, nuts, cheeses, grains, herbs and vegetables. Muffins can be made as a sweet or savory dish and can be served as either a dessert, side dish or breakfast item.
Both cakes and muffins can be prepared in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, flavors, and toppings. The basic ingredients are flour, sugar, fat, and eggs. The most common baking methods for cakes include batter mixes and doughs that are shaped into rounds, squares, and other shapes before being baked in pans. For cupcakes, the batter is usually mixed using something called the “cake mixing method,” which involves adding wet ingredients and then dry, beating between each addition for a longer period of time.
Because of their smaller size, cupcakes are easier to handle and decorate than larger cakes. This makes them ideal for children’s parties, since they can be a fun way to have the party guests decorate their own little cakes. They are also an ideal choice for bridal showers and other parties, where a large cake might be difficult to transport or cut. The smaller size of the cupcakes allows for a more creative use of garnishes, toppings and other decoration options that can add a special touch to an event.