I’ve always loved things in miniature, so what could be better than a tiny little cake! Today’s doodlewash is an American cupcake, but British versions of this amazing treat are called fairy cakes. The tops of fairy cakes are often cut and put back on top to look like little wings. According to an interview in The Guardian with Mich Turner, of the Little Venice Cake Company, a key difference between the two is that American cupcakes have “great wodges of lurid buttercream, rather than the traditional non-fat glace stuff.” Well, apologies to fairies everywhere, but I have to admit that buttercream is insanely delicious.

Though cupcakes were first mentioned as far back as 1796, they really hit their stride at the turn of this century when the idea of expensive gourmet cupcakes hit it big. Magnolia Bakery in New York City opened their doors in 1996, but it would be four years later before the magic happened. In 2000, Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, would be seen eating a Magnolia cupcake and a national craze for pricey tiny cakes would begin. The first gourmet cupcake shop here in Kansas City didn’t open until 2006 and it’s called BabyCakes. It’s my favorite cupcake shop around, but even with all their cool flavor options, the Vanilla Cake will always be my favorite.

Next came a sea of gourmet cupcake shops, a reality TV show called Cupcake Wars in 2010, and then the most amazing invention ever in 2012 – The Cupcake ATM. That’s right, if you simply can’t wait to get your cupcake fix, Sprinkles Cupcakes has the problem solved. They have a 24 hour cupcake terminal in a handful of cities that’s filled with fresh baked goodness day and night. Sadly, the cupcake bubble burst a couple years ago when Crumbs, the country’s largest cupcake chain, filed for bankruptcy sending a signal that times were changing. Gone are the days of cupcake mania, lost under a mountain of “lurid buttercream.” And somewhere, far across the pond, little fairies are laughing and saying I told you so.

You’re all invited to a Doodlewash Dinner Party during the month of May! Just tag your food or drink image #doodlewashdinner and I’ll feature you and your culinary creations in a delicious Doodlewash Gallery at the end of the month! 

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Pyrrol Red, Azo Orange, Quinacridone Gold, Gamboge, Doixazine Purple, Permanent Green Pale, and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

60 replies on “Cupcakes – A Tale of Tall Frosting

  1. I don’t think my cup cake bubble will ever burst. I’m a purest though, vanilla cake with white butter cream frosting. Miss Dee loves red velvet and Hubby likes the chocolate lava kind but that’s the great thing about tiny individual cakes- everyone can have their favorite!! Yummy Doodlewash!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. so pretty Charlie! 1796 wow, that is a long time ago. I had no idea. and what fun days…. I used to make the kids’ cupcakes all the time.
    did you know that over here cotton candy is called ‘fairy floss’ LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yum! You always do the white things so well! I just tagged my one and only cupcake painting for the dinner! It’s a cupcake mandala, of all things😉 But it’s way at the bottom because it’s older. I went crazy a while back and deleted all of my photos- this was a big mistake!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Jessica!! 😃💕 I was freaked out by white at first but now I kind of like it. That and shiny things so I change the cup to silver. Hehe And cool!! Just saw your cupcake!! It’s awesome! 😍😍yay! I want a cupcake so badly right now!!! 😊🐷hehe

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a sad story, those poor fairy…cakes, I don’t think it took off quite so big over here,(uk) but there was a rise in all things related to cupcake baking……hobby craft had rows of stuff to buy related to the cupcake, and my daughter fell into the buttercream trap….followed by stuff for cake pops! She got that stuff too. Still I got to eat them, yum. I prefer fairy cakes with buttercream, my mum always made them way back in the 70’s with loads of the stuff, filled in the hole before sticking the wings back on…the best bit of the cake making is licking the bowl, cake mix and or buttercream 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh but buttercream icing is the best! What a delicious looking confection you created Charlie! Too bad the cupcake was another fad come and gone. They are the perfect size. No doubt die hard fans, kids, will keep the dream alive. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yummy post though I do like cupcakes and yes, the icing but I have a problem with bakeries that use pre-made cake mix to make their cupcakes. I like it from scratch, so much better! Buttercream is fantastic, so I can deal with that, yes siree!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oooh, that looks scrumptious! I second the comments on you doing white things very well. Whoever could turn down a fairy cake, especially with all that topping! It’s been a while since I’ve had hundreds and thousands on anything.

    I love that there are cupcake ATMs. That’s hilarious. Sadly, I’m not sure cupcakes have ever become enough of a craze to justify our own… not yet at least! Let’s hope Bake Off works extra wonders this year😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, just turn Philippe into the ATM by having him make you some on demand!😉

        But yeah, it’s the same with my wish for a Skittles tap. Probably better off without, harrowing though it is.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Charlie, in Australia we called them butterfly cakes. My mum would cut the tops and spread the wings. Added real cream (not from a can) and fresh strawberries or passionfruit. Although I must admit I like all cupcakes especially ones with sprinkles on. Your sketch and story brings back special memories. Now I want to eat a cup cake. However, it is late, so I will settle for looking at your mouth watering sketch!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hysterically funny post…almost lost my iced tea when I came to the end. Beautiful painting, delicate enough to make a fairy happy, sprinkles enough to make me keep it for myself. You are so talented with your words and your paintings, a real happy treat to see. (adding to shopping list, bucket..umm, …box of cupcakes) Thank you for sharing a story bit about one of my favorite desserts.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Stop already, I have got to lose weight.
    Wait – Did you say buttercream frosting? OK, maybe just one. Think I’ll take 5 more – for the rest of the week.

    Please, Charlie, find something redeeming about celery. Next time I must get weighed, I’m going to blame you.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You ever heard of Ants on a Log? It’s a stalk of celery liberally filled with peanut butter or cream cheese and sprinkled with: chopped nuts, or raisins, or craisins, or chocolate chips (better on peanut butter than cream cheese.) It’s a staple for kids’ lunches – snacks, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I do love a good buttercream! My girls really liked Cupcake Wars and DC Cupcakes and for awhile, they’d make their own cupcakes with their own signature swirls. We have several gourmet cupcake places and my family likes Gigi’s cupcakes..

    Your doodlewash is terrific, especially the foil wrapper! And of course the buttercream!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Heeeey, my favorite Charlie! Bet you thought I’d slipped off the edge of the Earth. 😉 (Have you ever seen Neil DeGrass Tyson’s rebuttal to flat earthers? Hilarious!)

    I think I’m almost back to blogging…and I take your cupcake doodlewash-which is super scrumptious ❤️😋-as a sign that I should!

    I have the Magnolia Bakery cupcake recipes and they really are the best but I never knew why they were famous because of being on Sex and the City.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Charlie. When we go on our family beach vacation each year, we go to all the cupcake shops we can find and buy just a couple, and then we cut them into fours so we can have just a taste here and there over the week. I hope our favorite shops are still open; otherwise, I will have to show everyone the luscious doodlewashed cupcake you made so we can drool over it. At least it has fewer calories🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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