Like pound cakes, which originally contained a pound of each ingredient, cupcakes are so-called because all the ingredients were originally measured out by the cup: 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and 4 eggs. The muffin pan with its individual cavities came later, so the name really derived from the recipe, not from the baking pans.
Any recipe for layer, butter, or pound cakes can be used to make a cupcake. Coffee cake recipes can also be used, as can recipes for fruit cake, nut cakes, and tea cakes. Cupcakes are baked in muffin pans. As a general rule, the pans are prepared for baking by coating them with shortening or spraying with a cooking spray. They may also be lined with paper or foil baking cups sometimes called "paper liners", which ensure that the cakes doesn't stick to the pan, making clean up easy. The liners also help keep moisture in the cakes, make them easier to handle or transport, and keeping them fresher longer.
Flat-bottomed, wafer ice cream cones can be used as baking containers for cupcake batter. Children are particularly fond of cupcakes served in this fashion. To make them, fill the cones two-thirds full with batter (about 2 generous tablespoons). Place the filled cones on a flat baking sheet or in cavities of a muffin pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Add icing to the top, decorations and eat the cake and its container.
Today, many weddings serve cupcakes instead of the traditional wedding cake. They are attractively displayed on tiered serving stands.