A cupcake (also British English: fairy cake; Hiberno-English: bun) is a small cake designed to serve one person, which may be baked in a small thin paper or aluminum cup. As with larger cakes, frosting and other cake decorations such as fruit and candy may be applied.
In the early 19th century, there were two different uses for the term cup cake or cupcake. In previous centuries, before muffin tins were widely available, the cakes were often baked in individual pottery cups, ramekins, or molds and took their name from the cups they were baked in. This is the use of the name that has remained, and the name of “cupcake” is now given to any small, round cake that is about the size of a teacup. While English fairy cakes vary in size more than American cupcake, they are traditionally smaller and are rarely topped with elaborate frosting.
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Information from Wikipedia