The Original Cup Cake
Little Coffee Cup Chocolate-Chip Cakes with Vanilla Cream Froth
Forgive me if I have a little rant, but I am not a cupcake baker……..I make fairy cakes, butterfly cakes, buns and little cakes, but not cupcakes! I know, I know……I need to move with the times, but the thing is this, I am a little worried that our very long tradition of British baking is about to be swept out to sea by a deluge of cupcakes, whoopie pies, muffins (NOT the correct yeast ones either!) and cake pops……NOW, I know there will be lots of my lovely “blogger” friends who make and blog all of the above American style cakes and bakes, and that’s JUST fine, really! In fact I have visited their blogs and have salivated and drooled over them…..and in the case of cake pops, I have admired their patience and skill when making them…….but, I just don’t bake them myself, I can admire them from afar and if I am lucky, I get to taste them, but I am going to stick to my old-fashioned fairy cakes, just call me an old British Bun Baker! So, if you are all still speaking to me, can I introduce my CUPCAKES! This recipe is based on the VERY old, and British version, of baking cakes in small tea cups…….the ORIGINAL cupcake.
At this stage of the post, there may be some of my American friends who are saying “hold on a minute, the cupcake in an American invention”, and, they will be correct when it comes to the modern interpretation of a cupcake…….by that I mean the little cakes (or not so little as is often the case) that have icing a mile high swirled or piped over the top of them, in different flavours and with fruit, sprinkles and other highly decorative edible decorations adorning them. BUT, the original cupcake came from much humbler beginnings; a thrifty housewife or “downstairs” cook who finding themselves with an excess of cake mixture at the end of the baking day, would pop the extra batter in a china tea-cup and bake it…..a cupcake would probably have been some excess fruit cake mixture, which was then baked in a couple of tea cups……the poor culinary cousin of the “Queen Cake”, which, was also baked individually and boasted plump currants, rose-water and almonds and was to be found in the more affluent of households during the 19th century. Whatever the reason for baking cakes in cups, and there may be more practical reasons, such as not having a large cake tin, or not having enough ingredients to make a large cake, the fact remains, that there are TWO types of cupcake, and it’s the 19th century British version that I have baked today, albeit a VERY luxurious one, with coffee, chocolate, vanilla and cream!
These cakes are so easy to make and yet the results are frivolous, fun and fabulously frothy! They can be baked in a conventional oven or for a more “pudding-like” texture, they can be microwaved. I used a traditional 4,4,4,2 Victoria sponge cake recipe (that’s 4 ounces of sugar, butter, flour and 2 eggs) and then added a coffee paste and some chocolate chips, before finishing the cakes off with some vanilla cream froth! You serve them at the table IN their cups, with a saucer and a teaspoon, and you can either eat the cake OUT of the cup, or gently turn it out, as I have done in the photos……for an added element of trickery, DON’T tell your guests that they are cakes, and then watch them try to “DRINK” their cups of “coffee”……wicked, but worth it for the camera! The cakes you see in the photos were microwaved, but prior to making these ones, I baked some in tea cups, in a conventional oven, and I have to say that the baked ones were a little better, insofar as they were lighter and fluffier; the microwaved ones are lovely, but more of a steamed pudding in texture.
I am also feeling a little smug here, as these coffee cup cakes fit rather nicely into TWO current blogging challenges.….We Should Cocoa, which is being hosted by the lovely Lucy over at The Kitchen Maid blog this month on behalf of my lovely friend Choclette, and the ingredient is COFFEE; and, this recipe fits in rather well with Alphabakes, which is jointly hosted by the lovely Caroline and my FAB friend Ros, and it is Ros who is hosting it this month over at The More Than Occasional Baker blog…..and the letter for June, is “V”…..Ros, after all of your amazing Tea Time Treats Entries, I made these JUST for you! xxx So, that’s it for today…..I HOPE all of my friends who regularly make cupcakes, whoopie pies and the like, are STILL talking to me………I DO love what you bake, and I am a regular admirer of your cakes and bakes…….it’s just that, as I said before, I am a Boring old British Bun Baker!! See you all later, Karen.
In the early 19th century, there were several different names for cupcake, “fairy cake” and “1234 cakes or quarter cakes”