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

Posted by on Aug 22, 2013 in Cake Decorating, Food & Cooking | Comments


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.

Cake in a Mug with Sprinkles and Bite Missing

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.

Close Up on Bite with Cake in a Mug in Background

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.

Fork Mixing Cake Ingredients in a Mug

Step 3:

Stir in the milk and oil until well combined.

Fork Mixing Egg into Cake Mixture in Mug

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.

Hand Putting Mug into Microwave

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.

Cake in Mug Topped with Chocolate Ice Cream

Cake in Bunny Mug Topped with Chocolate Ice Cream and Sprinkles

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 Craftsy 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?

Comments

  1. Rosemary says:

    I’m allergic to eggs, so maybe I’ll try yogurt or applesauce as a substitute. I use yogurt instead of eggs when I make brownies and my fussy husband still eats them!

    1. Alanna says:

      Try this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie — no eggs needed!

      http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/11/06/one-minute-chocolate-cake/

  2. Josy says:

    OMG just what i needed it, yum yum. Thanks so much

  3. Kelly says:

    Even easier…the 3-2-1 mug cake. Mix an Angel Food cake mix and any other flavor cake mix in a plastic zip bag or air tight container. Take 3 tablespoons of this mixture, 2 tablespoons of water, then mix in a mug and microwave for 1 minute. Different texture than the above recipe, but can be made almost anywhere and it’s yummy.

  4. Barb R says:

    I’ve made the chocolate mug cake before. True, it’s not a “real” cake, but it sure satisfies a sweet craving FAST!

  5. Candy says:

    That’s awesome! greatest idea ever. Thanks

  6. Natalie says:

    What makes this rise?

  7. Jan Jones says:

    Great idea! I was just craving home baked sweets! I can’t make a whole cake just for me! It would go to waste or I would eat it all!

  8. Carolyn says:

    It sounded like a fast and easy recipe, but when I put the base ingredients into a nutrition calculator, the calories for one cake would be 689 (50g of fat, 30g of sugar) – a bit too high in calories for me for just a quick dessert fix – I think I’d just have the ice cream that was suggested to go on top.

  9. Iryna says:

    what makes it rise – egg, it is the levening here. Actually it doesn’t rise – it pops out of the mug!
    just made for my kiddo. she could eat only 1/3 of it.
    pretty rubbery.
    but works in a pinch

  10. Iris Adley says:

    What is Canola oil please ? ( There goes the diet )

  11. Jerrie Anderson says:

    I saw this recipe while recovering from knee replacement surgery. It not only grabbed my interest, but was a quick, easy dessert AND delicious. I topped with strawberry cheese cake ice cream — yum, yum! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Yennie says:

    Looks really yummy. Can i use self rising flour or do i have to use plain flour?

  13. @yennie – I have never tried it with self-rising, so I am not sure if it would bubble over. Better safe than sorry!

  14. rawr says:

    i just made it. it tastes kinda bland. I think I’ll add a lil more sugar and a pinch of salt next time