The Secret Is Science: How to Make Cake in a Mug in the Microwave

Microwaves aren't just for torturing Peeps anymore!

Here's a quick-fix dessert that doesn't taste like desperation: cake prepared in a mug, in the microwave.

With a consistency something like a steamed pudding, this recipe with vanilla and chocolate variations might not rival a fancy French gâteau in sophistication, but will nonetheless hold its own as an easy yet tasty dessert. And should you find some ice cream or buttercream to top it with, or should you be inclined to fancy it up with some delicate piping , well, all the better.

Photos via CakeSpy

Of course, to call this a "cake" may be slightly misleading, as the resulting self-contained dessert more closely resembles a baked pudding than a light and fluffy cake, with its moist and somewhat dense texture. But considering the fact that this dessert comes together in less than 10 minutes, and the fact that it's made with common pantry items that you're likely to have on hand, it creates a surprisingly satisfying result.

How does it work?

With science! In microwave cooking, radio waves penetrate the food, stimulating both water and fat molecules throughout. What this means is that no heat has to work its way into the middle of what's cooking -- the heat is everywhere at once and permeates the food evenly. Of course, there are exceptions, but this cake is not one of them. By conducting atoms vs. conducting heat, the microwave allows this cake to bake through and through, and not be gooey or uncooked in the center.

What kind of mug should you use?

Use at least a 10-ounce sized mug. The cake will puff as it steams, but fall back down a bit after it's removed from the microwave. However, it's better to be safe than sorry, so err on the side of caution and use a larger mug.

Microwaved vanilla cake recipe

Makes 1

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Up to 3 tablespoons various mix-ins

Directions:

Step 1:

Place all of the dry ingredients in the mug and mix with a fork.

Step 2:

Add the whisked egg and combine well. It will be pretty sticky at this point.

Step 3:

Stir in the milk and oil until well combined.

Step 4:

Add the vanilla, and any other mix-ins you'd like.

Step 5:

Microwave for 3 minutes in a 1000-watt microwave, or 4 minutes in a 700-watt oven. The cake will puff up in the mug while it bakes, but don't panic, it will deflate when you remove it from the heat.

Note: If you are worried about spillage, or if you are using a smaller mug and it's looking pretty full, err on the side of caution and put a plate beneath the mug -- this will save you possible cleanup woes later.

Step 5:

Top the cake with confectioners' sugar or icing or ice cream if you'd like, as well as any desired candy or garnishes. (I added chocolate ice cream and rainbow sprinkles .)

Serve immediately.

Variations:

Coconut cake in a mug:

Replace the milk in the recipe with coconut milk, and 2 tablespoons of toasted flaked coconut to the batter. Bake according to the recipe. Top with whipped cream with more coconut on top.

Strawberry shortcake in a mug:

Chop two strawberries and add to vanilla cake batter, or add a swirl of strawberry jam. Bake according to the recipe. Top with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

Rainbow chip cake in a mug:

Stir 1 heaping tablespoon of rainbow sprinkles into the vanilla cake batter. Bake according to the recipe. Top with buttercream icing and more sprinkles.

Maple bacon cake in a mug:

Stir in a small amount of finely chopped, cooked bacon (about 1/4 strip -- a little goes a long way) and 2 teaspoons of maple syrup into the vanilla cake batter. Bake according to the recipe. Add more maple syrup on top of the cake.

Microwaved chocolate cake recipe

Makes 1

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Up to 3 tablespoons various mix-ins

Directions:

Step 1:

Place all of the dry ingredients in the mug and mix with a fork.

Step 2:

Add the whisked egg and combine well. It will be pretty sticky at this point.

Step 3:

Stir in the milk and oil until well combined.

Step 4:

Add the vanilla, and any other mix-ins you'd like.

Step 5:

Microwave for 3 minutes in a 1000-watt microwave, or 4 minutes in a 700-watt oven. The cake will puff up in the mug while it bakes, but don't panic, it will deflate when you remove it from the heat.

Note: If you are worried about spillage, or if you are using a smaller mug and it is looking pretty full, err on the side of caution and put a plate beneath the mug -- this will save you possible cleanup woes later.

Step 6:

Top the cake with confectioners' sugar or icing or ice cream if you'd like, as well as any desired candy or garnishes.

Serve immediately.

Variations:

Chocolate peanut butter cake in a mug:

Stir 2 tablespoons of peanut butter into the batter for chocolate cake in a mug. Bake according to the recipe. If desired, top with more peanut butter or chocolate icing.

Triple chocolate cake in a mug:

Stir in 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips into the batter for chocolate cake in a mug. Bake according to the recipe. Top with hot fudge ice-cream sauce or ganache .

Salted caramel chocolate cake in a mug:

Stir in four or five caramel candies, each chopped into small pieces, into the chocolate cake batter. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt. Bake according to the recipe. Garnish with more sea salt.

To learn more chocolate cake recipes, check out the Bluprint class Decadent Chocolate Cakes with Alice Medrich .

What a mug! These cakes are easy, quick, and sweet. What mix-ins do you think would make for a great dessert in a mug?

August 22, 2013
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The Secret Is Science: How to Make Cake in a Mug in the Microwave