February 8, 2011

I think I’ve died and gone to “Snack Cake” heaven. My daughter Shani, who loves to bake, recently came up with the ideal snack cake recipe she found online. A cupcake topped with a donut! Yes, I know, topping a baked good with a fried one is indeed self indulgent, but who could resist this decadent treat.

Over the years donuts and cupcakes have had their share of fame and popularity. From donut shops to cupcake stands, these delicious treats have become staples in our breakfast and snack diets. But where did they originate?

The Donut

The donut first appeared in the United States in the mid-19th century by pilgrims from Holland who brought olykoeks, or oily cakes to America.

There is a very popular half-truth in doughnut lore centered on a very real sea captain and his mother. In 1847, Elizabeth Gregory was known in her New England circle to make a very fine olykoek. Her secret was to add a hint of nutmeg and fill the center with hazelnuts or walnuts. She even had a special name for her creation — dough-nuts.

As legend has it, Mrs. Gregory sent her son Captain Hanson Crockett Gregory on one of his sea voyages with several dough-nuts and her recipe to make more. Captain Hanson found himself having difficulty steering his ship and holding his dough-nut at the same time. The quick-thinking Captain impaled his dough-nut on one of the spokes of his steering wheel. Satisfied with his new dough-nut holder, he ordered his cook to henceforth prepare all dough-nuts with holes in the center.

By the 1920’s the donut was being mass produced. In 1933 Krispy Kreme opened their first donut shop in Paducah, Kentucky while in 1946 the first Dunkin Donuts opened in Boston, Massachusets.

The Cupcake

While no one is quite certain where cupcakes came from, it is known that they made an appearance in the United States sometime in the 19th Century. Called Fairy Cakes in the United Kingdom, cupcakes revolutionized how cake was made and mothers across the land praised this new smaller cake.

Cupcakes were made by measuring the ingredients for the first time. It has been suggested that this is perhaps where the term “cup cake” originated, since everything was measured in cups. Other origins of the name have also been offered, such as the fact they are baked in a cup but at one time, cupcakes were also called “number cakes”. This name originated from the recipe, whereby it required “…once cup butter, two cups sugar, three cups flour, four eggs…” At one time, recipes called for cupcakes to be “…baked into little tins.”

Though cupcakes only recently developed an upsurge in popularity, causing a number of bakeries to specialize in just cupcakes, it was in 1919 when Hostess developed the precursor to the Hostess Chocolate Cupcake. The rich, creamy filling and chocolate icing was popular with consumers and a love affair was begun.

Over the years, as Kosher grew in popularity most of the national bakeries we’ve come to know and love have jumped on the Donut/Cupcake bandwagon and proudly bear the OU kosher symbol. From Entenmann’s, Hostess, Weight Watcher’s, Otis Spunkmeyer, and Freihofer’s just to name a few, all are OU kosher certified and are available nationwide in your local supermarket. Strauss Dairies from Israel has an OU certified marshmallow variation called the Crembo, a mouthwatering cake or cookie topped with chocolate covered marshmallow fluff. Is your mouth watering yet?

Eating a cupcake or a donut can give you that warm fuzzy feeling, you know the one I’m talking about….it makes you feel young again and with the variety of flavors and frostings that have leave your mouth watering, there isn’t an appetite or yen that can’t be solved with a tasty “snack cake”. So the next time you’ve got a craving for a snack, or you’re looking for an unusual decadent dessert, try my daughter Shani’s recipe by topping a cupcake with a donut. The icing on top of the cupcake will serve as the perfect creamy pillow for the donut. Shani likes to call them “Pillow Cakes”, I just call them heaven……please pass another pillow cake!