Cupcake sites on the Internet have been growing with leaps and bounds during recent years. Many feature reviews of the numerous cupcake shops, while others have cupcake recipes and historic lore about the small bakery delicacy. Television cooking shows abound with cupcake baking competitions.
Cupcake popularity has reached Carrollton this month, with one cupcake shop, Fluffy’s, opening downtown on May 19, and another, Simply Cupcakes of Carrollton, due to open Friday at 1141 Bankhead Highway, in the shopping center next to Theatre Carrollton.
In addition, traditional bakeries and caterers are getting more calls for cupcakes to serve at parties, receptions and weddings, places where the old-time cake was once king. Brandi Shirey, who owns the Sweet Kakes catering business, said calls are increasing for party cupcakes because they’re easier to eat and more cost efficient.
The two new cupcake shop owners come from different backgrounds, but both agree that the cupcake is convenient, tasty, economical, decorative and simply a lot of fun.
Mike Rushing opened his Carrollton Fluffy’s in an Alabama Street retail building, sharing space with the Classy Crickett, a popular clothing boutique. It is next to Carrollton Cultural Arts Center and is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Rushing’s first Fluffy’s location was opened in Bremen last July. It’s a larger shop, with space for children’s birthday parties. And nothing is as popular with children’s birthdays as cupcakes.
“We offer cupcake decorating parties,” he said. “Children come in, we give them cupcakes and they decorate them with frosting and sprinklings.”
Rushing said people like cupcakes at parties, because they can hand them out and there’s no need for knives, forks and plates, as with the traditional large cakes.
“You can just grab up the cupcake and walk around with it,” he said. “It gives variety because you can have several different flavors and let people pick out the ones they want.”
Carrollton Fluffy’s has 11 flavors every day.
“We always have our red velvet and strawberry shortcake,” he said. “We then have different varieties each day of the week.”
He said cupcakes make good gifts and Fluffy’s has several styles of boxes to personalize the present. These range from a box with one cupcake to those with spaces for two, four, six or 12 cupcakes.
Rushing said cupcakes are an easy treat for husbands waiting on their wives to finish shopping or for diners who passed up dessert while eating out.
“A lot of people will come in, after eating a meal downtown, to get a cupcake for dessert,” he said.
Tish Kilgore, who with her husband, David, is opening Simply Cupcakes this Friday, got into the business from hobby baking.
“I lost my job about three and a half years ago and started cleaning houses,” she recalled. “My son played football at Central High and I volunteered at the pre-game meals. Most of the food came from donations, but the economy was bad. They didn’t have anyone to donate desserts since so many companies were cutting back.”
Kilgore said she volunteered to do the cupcakes and soon found that she really enjoyed the task.
“I started playing around with flavors,” she said. “The word got around about my cupcakes and soon I was hosting parties. I decided there might be something to this. Cupcakes are convenient at social gatherings. You can stand around and eat one and don’t have to have a dish and fork.”
Kilgore said she started doing research on cupcakes and found a franchise in Florida called Simply Cupcakes. She liked the company’s approach of using local ingredients and making all cupcakes “from scratch,” never using mixes.
She said all the work in getting the shop ready has been done by her and her husband.
“We’re just a local family and we don’t have a big construction company to help us,” she said.
She said the store is keeping its vendors local, buying ingredients from a Carrollton wholesale grocer and getting telecommunications from an area company.
“I really love baking and we’ve been doing dry runs this week,” Kilgore said. “Last night, we had people peeping through the window and kids just loved watching us bake.”
She said Simply Cupcakes will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Pricing will be $2.85 per cupcake, with price breaks for larger quantities.
While the cupcake is enjoying a recent resurgence of popularity, its history dates back to the 19th century. There’s two basic theories to how the cupcake got its name. One is that the cakes were originally baked in cups. The other is that the ingredients were measured in cups, rather than by weight, as required with larger cakes.
One story is that cupcakes were once called “1-2-3-4 cakes” because of the proportion of their ingredients: one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour and four eggs. Along with those basic ingredients, you added a cup of milk and a spoon of baking soda.
Around the turn of the 20th century, muffin tins became popular and it was convenient to use thin paper cups to hold the mixture in the pan for baking.
“Cupcakes are enclosed in a nice, convenient package,” Kilgore said. “It makes each person who gets one feel special, like that cupcake was just made for them.”