What Were Cupcakes Originally Called? | CoachSweetTooth

Because of its long history, what were cupcakes originally called is an interesting question that not many people know the answer to. Let’s find out.

With the history of cupcakes dating back decades, it is difficult to find out what they were initially called. However, knowing the original name is a must if you life to make cupcakes, or are just a cupcake enthusiast who loves to find out new and interesting facts about this treat.

Cupcakes have been a popular dessert since the late 1800s. The first mention of the cupcake dates from 1796 when Amelia Simms wrote a recipe note for "a cake to be cooked in little cups" in American Cookery.

Trying to find out the true name of the cupcake can be difficult for many folks who have just taken a shine to these sweet treats, or are looking forward to baking cupcakes. If you’ve been pondering on what cupcakes were called, then you are at the right place, because here you are going to find out all there is to know about cupcakes.

As cupcake enthusiasts, we can help you find the answer to your question so the next time someone asks you how a cupcake got its name you’ll have an interesting answer for them.

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What Were Cupcakes Originally Called?

The first mention of the cupcake dates from 1796, when Amelia Simms wrote a recipe note for "a cake to be cooked in little cups" in American Cookery. In the nineteenth century, the cupcake reappeared, this time with two connotations.

Cupcakes have been a popular dessert since the late 1800s. The word "cupcake" was first officially used in an 1828 reference in Eliza Leslie's Receipts cookbook. Eliza Leslie was an American author and housewife in the nineteenth century who published numerous successful recipes as well as various etiquette manuals. In case you want to make Miss Leslie's cupcakes, we've provided a copy of her recipe at the bottom of this page.

Small cakes existed before 1828, but they weren't named cupcakes. Queen cakes, for example, were quite popular in the 18th century and were individually portioned pound cakes. Amelia Simmons included a recipe for "a cake to be prepared in miniature cups" in her book American Cookery in 1796. At the bottom of the page, you'll find Amelia's recipe.

Amelia Simmons included a recipe for "a cake to be prepared in miniature cups" in her book American Cookery in 1796. We've also included Amelia's recipe at the bottom of the page, but good luck attempting to duplicate it. However, most culinary historians consider Eliza Leslie's 1828 recipe for cupcakes to be the most significant, therefore we've dubbed her the "Mother of the Cupcake."


Small cakes were prepared in individual ramekins before the creation of the muffin tin, earning the term cupcake. Due to their small size, these miniature cakes were dubbed "fairy cakes" in Britain. Cupcakes, sometimes known as Number cakes, were a unique form of cake created by calculating components by volume rather than weight.

Food historians have failed to determine exactly where the name of the cupcake came from, according to the Food Timeline Web. Two explanations exist: first, the cakes were initially baked in cups, and second, the components required to manufacture the cupcakes were measured out by the cup. Cupcakes were once known as "number" cakes because the ingredients required to make them were easy to remember: a cup of butter, sugar (two cups), flour (three cups), and eggs (four).

Cupcakes have obviously evolved to include a broad range of ingredients, measures, forms, and decorations, but this was one of the original recipes for producing what we now call cupcakes.

Cupcakes have become a pop culture fad in the culinary world since their inception. They've created a slew of bakeries solely dedicated to them. While basic varieties like chocolate and vanilla remain popular, specialty flavors like raspberry meringue and espresso fudge may be found on menus.

Cupcake recipes, blogs, and journals are all dedicated to the confection. In the United States, icing is a sweet, creamy glaze consisting of sugar and milk or water that is typically supplemented with substances like cream cheese, butter, milk or flavorings. It's a type of sugar that's used to coat or garnish baked foods.

The other type of "cup cake" was a cake whose components were measured by volume rather than weight, using a standard-sized cup. Recipes that used a standard-sized cup to measure ingredients might be cooked in cups as well, although they were more typically baked in pans as layers or loaves. These recipes were known as 1,2,3,4 cakes or quarter cakes in subsequent years, as the use of volume measurements became more common in household kitchens.

Because they use roughly half as much butter and eggs as pound cake, they are somewhat less rich and less costly. They are straightforward yellow cakes that are somewhat less rich and less costly than pound cake due to the use of around half as much butter and eggs. These two primary kinds of cakes were named to indicate the baking technique to the baker: "cup cake" employs a volume measurement, while "pound cake" uses a weight measurement. Cupcakes have evolved into more than a fad; they've become a business.

Cupcake or Cup Cake?

The present concept of a cupcake is most likely not the same as the phrase's historical origin. Consider what it might be like to work as a cook in 19th-century Britain or North America. Your recipes, the tightly guarded secrets of your culinary prowess, were likely learned and passed down from generation to generation because you couldn't read.

Cup cakes are thought to have originated as a conventional cake recipe with component proportions written in cup sizes to make directions simpler to memorize. It went something like this: 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, and so on. For remembering component quantities, pound cakes utilize the same technique as pound cakes, which is based on weight.

When it comes to cupcakes, culinary historians encounter a gray area where the practice of manufacturing individual cup-sized cakes might be confused with the norm of constructing cakes using cup-measured components. We discover directions for making a cup-measured cake in little pans instead of a big pan in an 1828 recipe. This indicates that the miniature cupcakes we all know and love have been around since the early 1800s.

Small cakes baked in separate vessels are said to have originated with the usage of clay or earthenware cups. It might have been a means to utilize leftover batter, make the most of a hot oven by putting miniature ramekins, or small baking dishes, in vacant spots, or quickly bake an evenly cooked food when fuel was scarce. The introduction of multi-cupcake molded pans early in the twentieth century brought modest mass production methods to cupcake creation, and a contemporary baking tradition was formed.


Lori Gilmore

Lori Gilmore

Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.

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