Cupcakes – A Tale of Tall Frosting

Cupcakes A Tale of Tall Frosting Doodlewash of vanilla cupcake with buttercream frosting in metal cup

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

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Nancy 6 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      Thanks Nancy!! 😃💕 Glad you like the same one I do!! But wait…lava cakes are also pretty amazing!! Hehe…left alone I’d probably eat them all. 😊

      • Nancy 6 years ago

        Probably why people like us should NEVER be left alone when choosing cupcakes! Moderation is such a bummer…

  2. debiriley 6 years ago

    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

  3. Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      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

  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 😉

    • Author

      Hehe! Yeah, I have to admit to preferring the buttercream version. It’s just so darn good!! Sounds like your mum did things just right!!! Lol I always got to lick the bowl, well…with a spoon or finger, not sticking my whole head in, though I did consider it!

  5. Susan Feniak 6 years ago

    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. 🙂

    • Author

      Thanks so much Susan! 😃💕 Yeah, they’re to good to ever disappear, buttercream and all! But not quite the rage they used to be. The ones I like are tiny so you get to try more flavors. Hehe

  6. Margaret Parker Brown 6 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      Thanks Margaret! 😃💕 Yep! From scratch is the only way to go! That’s why I like the little bakery here. They’re amazing…smaller than regular cupcakes so it’s like half cake half buttercream! Perfect! 😉

  7. Sand Salt Moon 6 years ago

    The frosting is the best part!

  8. anniedrawsthings 6 years ago

    So cute! I am definitely an icing person. My best friends are the people that love the cake and give me their icing. 😛 Beautiful job!

    • Author

      Thanks Annie!! 😃💕 I had a friend who would eat all the extra icing. She loved the stuff. Sometimes it’s a bit too sweet for me. But when it’s just right, it’s delicious!!

  9. Jodi 6 years ago

    Cupcake ATM???!!! Really?? LOL! I so want to eat a cupckake right now – Dang you!!!! 🙂

    • Author

      Haha!! You’re welcome! 😉Glad I could tempt you with this! The only solution is to make a batch and send them to me immediately before indulging. I’ll save you!! 💕😃

  10. Jill Kuhn 6 years ago

    I like how you painted the paper lining AND of course, the cupcake looks yummy! 🙂 I love chocolate frosting myself. 🙂

    • Author

      Thanks Jill! 😃💕 Philippe prefers chocolate as well, but I’ve always been a vanilla guy. Wait…that makes me sound boring. 😊I just love the flavor! Hehe

  11. Sharon Mann 6 years ago

    What luscious little cupcake! Beautiful doodlewash Charlie!

  12. memadtwo 6 years ago

    I love the name fairy cake, although I agree that rich frosting is a must. But in the shape of wings…I could see that! (K)

    • Author

      Me too, Kerfe! 😃I thought it was such a cool name and little wings just add to the cool factor. But yeah…whatever you call them, frosty is required! Hehe

  13. Jacob 6 years ago

    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 😉

    • Author

      Thanks Jacob!! 😃 I think I’m getting the hang of white things. Hehe… Are cupcake ATMs the coolest?! I want one in my house!! But then I guess I’d be as large as a house so it’s probably for the best that’s not going to happen. 😊

      • Jacob 6 years ago

        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.

        • Author

          Phineas is the only one in the house who can get the on demand treatment! Lol But Ohhh… a Skittles tap would be brilliant!

          • Jacob 6 years ago

            Haha! No surprises there!

  14. Teri C 6 years ago

    Looks so yummy and yet….it’s only paint….beautiful paint…..💜

  15. Carmel Campbell 6 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      Awww thanks cool, Carmel!! 😃💕I love the name butterfly cakes! So glad this brought back good memories…and cravings! Hehe Hope you’ll treat yourself to one today! 😉

  16. artandmoondreams 6 years ago

    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.

    • Author

      Awww I’m so thrilled you liked this Haunani!! 😃💕 That’s so sweet of you to say. I love to write as well as doodlewash. 😊 And I support you in your bucket of cupcakes idea!! I say go for that!! Hehe!!

  17. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 6 years ago

    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.

    • Author

      Oops! 😊 Did I not mention that I’m a bad influence, Sharon? Lol Sorry about that, but cupcakes shouldn’t ever be off the menu…they’re too good!! Hmmm…celery is nice, but you rarely get to add sprinkles so it’s less colorful. 😉

      • Sharon Bonin-Pratt 6 years ago

        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.

        • Author

          I hadn’t until very recently!! My snack growing up didn’t have the ants …just celery and peanut butter. But looks like the second Tuesday in September is Ants On A Log day! Something to celebrate!😃🎉

  18. Xstrella 6 years ago

    I love your painting AND I love cupcakes <3

  19. Cathe 6 years ago

    What a beautiful cupcake! There’s something about a cupcake that makes it a celebration! Super fun!!

  20. Blast you and your delicious food paintings, Charlie! *shakes fist* 💜💜💜 what about illustrating menus for restaurants? Seriously, this amazing skill should be put to good use rather than making me hungry all the time lol.

    • Author

      Haha! Thanks! 💕😃Sorry for all the temptation sis, but if it makes you feel any better I’ve been hungry ALL the time this month! With all the talented folks playing along it’s like a crazy awesome food fest! 😊

  21. Kari 6 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      Thanks so much Kari! 😃💕 Glad you’re in the buttercream camp… I realize galce is probably healthier, but I’ll take the risk! Gourmet cupcakes shops are awesome… hope they stick around a long time!

  22. Teresa Robeson 6 years ago

    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.

    • Author

      Hey there stranger!!! Welcome back!! Hehe… it’s cool that my cupcake could tempt you back into the blogosphere. Come back! Come back!! 😃💕 But yeah, you have Carrie Bradshaw to thank for discovering the Magnolia Bakery though! Hehe

  23. Phil Cooper 6 years ago

    Thanks for drawing my fave cakes ever Charlie , and I’m glad you went to town the topping, it looks so good 😊

  24. Carol 6 years ago

    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 🙂

    • Author

      Thanks Carol!! 😃💕 I hope they’re open too…though calorie free…this doodlewash just can’t compare with the real thing! And brilliant to cut it up so you can sample more! Love it!

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