There has been a misconception springing from the church halls and school bake sales, one that depicts us as a unity of rather bland, perhaps overdone sponge with the façade of icing. The application of it is arbitrary, with the vague intention of shaking things up through the use of food colouring. However, the dulled hues of pink and beige tell us that the arbitrariness was merely just a means of unification all along.
Neither the taste nor texture was important. As people bit through the icing and sponge, crunching on the edible ball bearings that adorned it, they never rode the waves of ecstasy as a result. The feeling was one of mere contentment with perhaps a dash of endearment. This is all that we could really offer, for we were no more but a tangible symbol of some higher purpose. Whether it was the event or charity that we were used to help raise funds for, that was all that really mattered. The dryness and lacklustre experience was of no real consequence, and neither were we.
There was a model that we had to conform to, one that consisted of a uniform batter mix, with standard icing. To deviate from this would be to overstep the boundaries, and perhaps transcend into the realm of culinary merit rather than good intentions, and overwriting these good intentions would in turn overwrite the apparent purpose of our existence.
Our rather concise aesthetics seemed to provide a scapegoat for this disregard of our very being. The frilly garments embodied a self-actualisation that assumed that we needn’t be anything more than plain sponge and wanton decoration. Were we not entitled to the same regard and respect as those larger cakes? Perhaps it was our stature and novelty that somewhat trivialised our merit within the baking field.
It was time to break out of the frilly cups that imprisoned us. It was by all means a metaphorical break as we intended to stay very much within the garments that made us who we were. Soon we began to adopt the flavours that were only reserved for proper cakes. We demonstrated hints of Vanilla, and our icing delivered the punch of citrusy sourness that any lemon drizzle cake could. Those who had purchased us out of courtesy didn’t know what hit them.
Very soon after this we began to fully embody our larger counterparts, and people sat at their tables bemused, struck by the uncanny nature of a miniature carrot cake, or chocolate gateau that could fit into the palm of their hand. They of course assumed that we would pale in comparison to the ‘real thing.’ The problem that presented itself with this new step in evolution was the fact that we were seen as mere representations of the larger cakes, an absence of a profound reality masked by a new kind of endearingly uncanny aesthetic.
This was perhaps understandable when taking into account the difficulty of baking several little carrot cakes to the same specification. At least one of those would be a ghostly shadow of the others. Despite being baked in the same oven for the same time, we must remember that these are individuals and should be treated as such.
More often than not, they would sink their teeth into our moist sponge and relive memories of taking a bite from the apple cake of their childhood. These memories are somewhat reworked and enhanced through the concise format of the cup, providing an altogether new experience.
This was progress indeed, but we were still not satisfied and soon after, had begun to harness our format and stature as a canvas for experimentation. What better way of attempting a new flavour than to try it out in miniature? Inevitably these experiments became successes, and we were forming our own signature titles such as The Red Velvet, which brought us into a new era of decadence. The number of new cupcake breeds was growing, and shops and cafes had to be opened for the sole purpose of accommodating them. This was not at all a problem as people accepted this with open arms, and mouths. Green Tea, Earl Grey, Rose, and Lavender Caramel were just some of the few flavours that carried out the second phase of the revolution. The icing, once an off-white blanket, was now treated as an art piece in itself as intricate small roses adorned an enticingly pink cloud of cream cheese frosting.
We are now at the stage where larger cakes are attempting to embody their smaller counterparts. The ones that they had dismissed before as being mere novelty now have something to teach them. While still keeping their physical size they have grown in stature. We are now in menus, at the forefront of glamour in baking, we are subtle and varied, we are artworks, and we can even induce smiles now and again. We have come a long way since lying half eaten on a bake sale table, slowly going stale and thinking about when a cupcake revolution might arise.