What is the name of the traditional American cake of small size, designed to serve one person?
A cupcake 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.
The earliest extant description of what is now often called a cupcake was in 1796, when a recipe for "a light cake to bake in small cups" was written in "American Cookery" by Amelia Simmons. The earliest extant documentation of the term cupcake itself was in "Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats" in 1828 in Eliza Leslie's "Receipts cookbook".
A standard cupcake uses the same basic ingredients as standard-sized cakes: butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Nearly any recipe that is suitable for a layer cake can be used to bake cupcakes.
Because their small size is more efficient for heat conduction, cupcakes bake much faster than a normal layered cake.