Cupcake trend turns 21, cupcakes survive


By Bill Colvard - bcolvard@MtAiryNews.com



Lemon cupcakes with blackberry buttercream frosting are tasty foils for fresh blackberries.


Bill Colvard | The News

It’s been 21 years since Magnolia Bakery opened their doors on Bleeker Street in New York’s West Village, and almost as long since “Sex and the City” visited the shop with Carrie and Miranda sitting on a bench out front discussing their personal lives while daintily nibbling vanilla cupcakes covered in pink frosting.

Suddenly, cupcakes were hot, hot, hot. Cupcake bakeries sprouted up everywhere in cities large and small. Several became chains. One of the chains, “Crumbs” became a publicly-traded company.

The trend became official when a television reality show came along to celebrate the tiny confections. “Cupcake Wars” has been running on The Food Network since 2009.

But long before cupcakes were the darlings of specialty bakeries and television, they were baked at home. Prized for their utility at children’s parties (single serving/no slicing required) and their quick baking, cupcakes have been around since 1796 when they were first mentioned in “American Cookery,” a cookbook by Amelia Simmons. Called “a light cake to bake in small cups,” cupcakes got their name because they were literally baked in cups.

Not to be confused with “cup cakes” which evolved at about the same time. “Cup cakes” reflected the trend in the early 19th century of going to volume measurements and measuring ingredients in cups, rather than weighing them. The most popular of these was the “1234 Cup Cake” which called for one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, and four eggs.

The cupcake trend seems to have peaked by the end of the aughts and the Crumbs chain has since closed down all its stores, not once but twice. Magnolia Bakery is still around, but has changed owners and expanded beyond the original store.

The original owners always claimed that their most popular flavor was the vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting. With every flavor under the sun available, more people chose plain vanilla than any other flavor. But like Carrie Bradshaw, or maybe because of Carrie Bradshaw, a lot of people like that plain vanilla cupcake with its vanilla frosting tinted pink.

Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream

Cupcakes:

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup milk

1 lemon, juice and zest

Frosting:

1 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. salt

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup seedless blackberry jam

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Cream sugar and 1/2 cup butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and mix 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract into mixture with the second egg. Beat in flour and baking powder until thoroughly combined; beat in milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest to make a smooth batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake in the preheated oven until cupcake edges are slightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes completely.

Beat 1 cup butter with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and salt until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, to make a creamy frosting. Beat in blackberry jam. Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes and top with a fresh blackberry.

Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream or Chocolate Buttercream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes (Depending on the size of your cupcake papers and muffin tins).

Magnolia’s Chocolate Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream or Chocolate Buttercream

To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for approximately 5–10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm 5–10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes (Depending on the size of your cupcake papers and muffin tins).

Vanilla Buttercream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

6–8 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3–5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes.

Chocolate Buttercream

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 tbsp. milk

9 ounces semisweet chocolate

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for about 5–10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5–15 minutes, or until lukewarm. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat well, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat on low speed until creamy and of desired consistency. Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes.

Lemon cupcakes with blackberry buttercream frosting are tasty foils for fresh blackberries.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/web1_cupcake.jpgLemon cupcakes with blackberry buttercream frosting are tasty foils for fresh blackberries. Bill Colvard | The News

By Bill Colvard

bcolvard@MtAiryNews.com

Nominate your favorite cook to share their love of food with readers of The Mount Airy News.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

Nominate your favorite cook to share their love of food with readers of The Mount Airy News.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

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