Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

cup cake the name given, from some time in the 19th century, in Britain and generally in N. America to a small cake baked in a cup-shaped mould or in a paper baking cup.

In N. America the term may originally have referred to the American measuring system, based on the cup measure. Just as recipes for pound cake called for a pound of this and that, so recipes for cup cake would involve a sequence of cup measures, often making one large cake rather than a lot of small ones. The earliest example cited by Craigie and Hulbert (1940) of cup cake appearing in print is from Miss leslie (1828) and is of particular interest because her recipe (for White Cup Cake) appears to exemplify both meanings. Main ingredients are one large coffee cup of cream or rich milk (best when sour), one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, and four cups of flour. The prepared mixture is then to be baked in ‘little tins’. amelia Simmons (1796) has a recipe for ‘A light Cake to Bake in small cups’.