Food trends come and go, but a recent one that’s still going strong is mug cake. This single-serving dessert is exactly what it sounds like: A cake in a mug. Instead of baking a full-sized cake in one or more pans in the oven, stir a few ingredients together in a coffee mug or Mason jar, and pop it in the microwave. A mug cake is a quick way to satisfy a craving for sweets without devoting an afternoon or evening to baking. Keep reading to learn how to make your own mug cake, along with a few recipes to check out.
Mug Cake Tips and Tricks
Why make a mug cake in the first place? Small batch baking can help us exercise portion control, especially for those of us with a sweet tooth. Even cake-lovers can’t eat an entire cake within a few days, so we either have to share it with friends, family, or neighbors, or resign ourselves to throwing out half of it. Mug cakes use small amounts of ingredients and usually don’t include eggs, which makes them a smart option for cravings, rather than running out to the grocery for a pint of ice cream or other store-bought goodies. Mug cakes are also a fun way to make individual desserts for a dinner party or other small gathering. Use microwave-safe ceramic ramekins or cocottes.
One of the biggest points of contention among mug cake recipes is whether or not to add egg. Consider that a full layer cake calls for two or three eggs; a single serving mug cake doesn’t need a whole egg. Not only can too much egg affect the texture of your cake, it can even seep into the taste. Use other binders and leaveners like applesauce and baking powder instead.
You may need to do some trial and error cooking to see how much batter to use when filling each of your dishes. Your cake will puff up significantly due to the steam created while cooking, but it will also shrink back down once you remove it from the microwave. You want a mug that’s big enough to hold your cake so it doesn’t spill over in your microwave.
Cooking times are not one-size-fits-all for mug cakes. You may need to microwave 10-20 seconds at a time and check your cake at each interval to avoid overbaking it. When it’s done, the center of your cake should still be a bit liquid and sticky to the touch. Cook it too long, and your cake will be dense and rubbery instead of light and moist. WonderHowTo suggests adding a spoonful of water to the top of your cake batter (don’t stir it in!) before cooking. It can be a safeguard against overcooking.
Does a mug cake taste like a slice of a full-sized cake? No. But is a mug cake warm and gooey and sweet? Definitely.
Mug Cake from Scratch
Don’t be dissuaded by these recipes from scratch. Both of them are simple and straightforward, with ingredients you probably already have on hand.
This recipe from Table for Two makes a chocolate mug cake using baking powder, milk, and oil, among other essential ingredients. You can also drop in a few chocolate chips or a spoonful of Nutella to create a molten center. Check the wattage of your microwave and watch the cooking time carefully. Julie from Table for Two has made this cake in two different microwaves; one cooked it in 70 seconds, and the other cooked it in 90 seconds. She also used a 14-ounce mug for this cake, which allows plenty of room for the cake batter to rise.
This snickerdoodle mug cake from Five Heart Home looks like a delicious variation on classic snickerdoodle cookies. Like the recipe above, there’s no eggs included, but it calls for salted butter instead of oil. Not only is there cinnamon in the cake itself, but the recipe includes a cinnamon-sugar mixture for layering and topping. Don’t leave out the vanilla extract, and if you only have unsalted butter, add a small pinch of salt. Both of these ingredients make a big difference in flavor.
Mug Cake from Mix
If you don’t feel like measuring and mixing a half dozen ingredients, you can always use cake mix as a shortcut. Forget the instructions on the box and check out these recipes instead.
Start with this recipe from Ideas for the Home. Combine a box of angel food cake mix with a box of your favorite flavored cake mix. White, yellow, and chocolate are all a good place to start. Measure out the cake mix, add water, and microwave. The egg whites in the angel food cake mix act as a binder, which is the reason for combining the two types of mix. Try topping the finished cake with whipped cream or hot fudge.
If you’re up for tweaking your mug cake just a bit, try this recipe from Kirbie’s Cravings which includes cake mix, water, and applesauce. The applesauce functions as a binder, and it adds moisture to the cake too. If you don’t have applesauce on hand, simply double the water and add half a tablespoon of oil. Drop some chocolate chips into the mix for a molten center. Kirbie’s Cravings also has a ton of other mug cake varieties, both from mixes and from scratch.
If none of these recipes appeal to you, try the Yummly recipe finder that lets you filter based on criteria like cake mix flavor and ingredients to include or exclude. You’re sure to find a recipe worth trying!