AskDefine | Define cupcake

Dictionary Definition

cupcake n : small cake baked in a muffin tin

User Contributed Dictionary



From cup + cake.




  1. A small cake baked in a paper container shaped like a cup, often with icing on top.
  2. An attractive young woman.
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Vintage 2007, p. 604:
      Whatever else this cupcake might be up to, she was no piker.


small cake

Extensive Definition

A cupcake (the common US term) or fairy cake (the common British term, although it is now used interchangeably with the US term) is a small cake designed to serve one person, usually made in a small paper cup container; another reason why they are sold in groups. As with larger cakes, frosting and other cake decorations, such as sprinkles, are defining characteristics of modern cupcakes.


The name of "cupcake" is given as it is a small cake the size of a teacup. In previous centuries, before muffin tins were widely available, the cakes were often baked in individual pottery cups, ramekins, or molds. The name "fairy cake" is a fanciful description of its size; an appropriate size for a party of diminutive fairies to share.
Cupcakes are often served during a celebration, such as children's birthday parties. Additionally, they can be served as an accompaniment to afternoon tea. They are a more convenient alternative to cake as they are smaller and don't require utensils or division into individual portions.

Cupcake recipes

A simple cupcake uses the same basic ingredients as standard-sized cakes: butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Recipes for "cup cake" — recipes whose ingredients were measured using a standard-sized cup, instead of weighing the ingredients — have a confusingly similar name. These cakes could also be baked in bowls; however, they were more commonly baked in tins as layers or loaves. In later years, when the use of volume measurements was firmly established in home kitchens, these recipes became known as 1234 cakes or quarter cakes, so called because they are made up of four ingredients in equal ratios; butter, sugar, eggs and flour. They are plain yellow cakes, somewhat less rich and less expensive than pound cake due to the reduced proportion of butter. The names of these two major classes of cakes were intended to signal the method to the baker; "cup cake" uses a volume measurement, and "pound cake" uses a weight measurement.

See also

  • Petit fours, individual-sized or bite-sized cakes made by cutting a large sheet cake and frosting the pieces
  • Muffins, which, in the American style, are less sweet than cupcakes but otherwise similar
  • Tea cake, a broad class of breads and cakes served with tea, which in the Australian style can include cupcakes
cupcake in Simple English: Cupcake
cupcake in Korean: 컵케이크
cupcake in Chinese: 纸杯蛋糕
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