Sweet Tooth

The British sometimes call cupcakes “fairy cakes.” Maybe that touch of magic explains the recent cupcake renaissance — which you’ll have noticed unless you’ve been hiding your head in the sand for the past two years or so. The term “cupcake” actually began in the nineteenth century, when cupcakes weren’t necessarily little cakes, but rather cakes made using measuring cups instead of scales to determine ingredient amounts. “Cupcake” also had a double meaning, because sometimes bakers would portion out the batter into individual containers — particularly teacups — in the years before muffin tins were widely available. Using teacups was much more convenient for bakers; hearth ovens took a long time to fully cook cakes, and burning was a common problem. Cupcakes were also known as “number cakes” or 1234 cakes because of a common recipe: one cup butter, two cups sugar, three cups flour, four eggs (plus one cup milk and a spoonful of soda); another recipe for “quarter cakes” called for butter, sugar, eggs and flour in equal parts. It wasn’t until 1919 that Hostess introduced snack cupcakes, but the Hostess Cup Cake we know and love today — with its seven white squiggles across the chocolate frosting and its vanilla cream center — was created in 1950 by D.R. “Doc” Rice.

Today’s cupcakes are baked using similar ingredients and recipes. Learn how to create your own fabulous confections at Making and Decorating the Perfect Cupcake, an all-ages baking demonstration presented by Fresh City Life. Emma Rose, the baking mastermind behind cupcake haven the Shoppe, will lead the demonstration, which takes place today from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Denver Central Library’s B2 Conference Center, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway. The presentation is free and open to the public; call 720-865-1206 or visit www.denverlibrary.org/programs/fresh/index.html for information.
Sat., July 26, 10:30 a.m.-noon, 2008