As Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte descended on London recently with the arrival of Sex And The City, never did the humble cupcake enjoy such fashion iconic status.
Seen as the must-have accessory for birthday parties, ladies’ afternoon tea parties and girlie evenings, the cupcake is enjoying its new-found red carpet status as the Jimmy Choo of the tea set.
The cupcake (American term) or fairy cake (British term) was first baked at the turn of the 20th century. The name comes from the measurement of ingredients - equal proportions of 1 cup of butter, sugar, flour and eggs, in a similar way to the pound cake. The cakes are also thought to have been baked in individual tea cups, taking much less time to bake than a traditionally larger cake.
Hostess presented the first commercially produced cupcakes in 1919, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that the cupcakes were dressed with frosting, cream cheese and sprinkles. Not to be confused with a muffin, which is usually less sweet, has no frosting and can include savoury varieties, the cupcake has now become the preferred name universally with bakeries such as Magnolia Bakery in New York, the Primrose Bakery, Hummingbird Bakery, Fru Fru and Lola’s Kitchen in London offering a range of flavours, including Red Velvet with whipped vanilla icing; Devil’s Food with mocha, caramel or cream cheese icing and Coconut topped with meringue.
It was in Stockholm, surprisingly, that I experienced this cupcake culture. I stopped for coffee and ordered a carrot cupcake with orange cream cheese frosting. The cupcake was presented on a plate, sliced vertically with an over-generous orange cream cheese deposited much like a Mr Whippy ice cream. It made a real sense of occasion - but it was, indeed, very sweet!
I don’t make cupcakes per se, but at Little Venice Cake Company we take the cupcake revolution one step further by creating individual cakes fully covered with either chocolate or sugar paste and intricately hand decorated.
The Berkeley Hotel in London serves afternoon tea inspired by the current fashions, known as Pret-a-Portea on Paul Smith china. From now until December they are offering a Sex And The City weekend stay that includes access to a complete boxed set of the film’s DVDs with chocolate handbags and iced shoe biscuits, nibbles, and coloured cupcakes.
I, for one, will be checking in and indulging in all things sweet.