When Sarah Jessica Parker tucked into a cupcake in Sex & The City in 2000, the show's followers were not watching the outfits for once.

"That scene helped to launch the cupcake on to the world stage," says Victoria Jossel, co-founder of Lola's, a cupcake bakery set up in London two years ago by Jossel and Romy Lewis. It started as an online store with a supply deal for Selfridges and Harrods, but this month opened a concession in Selfridges and is about to open its first standalone store.

Supermarkets such as M&S, Sainsbury's and Waitrose have launched pre-packed and individual cupcakes, but not all cupcakes are created equal, she adds. "Our cupcakes have a one-day shelf life. They do not contain preservatives. This is very different from a cupcake with a six-day shelf life, filled with preservatives or rapeseed oil," says Jossel.

Although Lola's says it has been approached by supermarkets, it is not tempted. "The volumes required would make it impossible to bake by hand. We are not willing to compromise on quality."

Cupcakes were the fastest-growing recipe search on Google in the UK in 2008, says Tarek Malouf, founder of the Hummingbird Bakery, which opens its third shop in London later this year. The cupcake is not a fad, he insists.

"Cupcakes are here to stay. The size is small enough to eat by yourself but big enough to satisfy a craving for something sweet. They are also very versatile: suitable for a mid-morning coffee, afternoon tea or even a wedding reception."

Old hand The Fabulous Bakin' Boys also added a range of kingsize cakes to its cupcakes in supermarkets at the end of last year, achieving sales of £3m in their first six months. "We dominate the packaged cupcake market, with sales of £5m in the past year, up 25%," says MD Gary Frank. "As a product they will stick around, although I'm not sure whether boutique bakeries selling £3 cupcakes will last too long," he adds.

Focus On Cakes & Biscuits