Baby Cakes

Dear Reader,

How are you doing on groceries nowadays? With the ongoing pandemic, I have not been shopping in over three weeks. Needless to say, my supplies are dwindling. Regardless, I have been craving sugar and was wondering whether I could bake something with my meager collection of ingredients. I found plenty of recipes for cookies that use four ingredients or less, which I will likely soon try, however, this time, I was interested in baking a cake.

Have you ever had a mug cake? These little treats are single-serving cake recipes that are “baked” (microwaved) in a normal 12 oz coffee mug. Mug cake recipes are perfect for me at the moment because my sack of flour is nearly depleted, and a mug cake only requires three to four tablespoons of flour each. For a quirky dessert, I decided to try two mug cake recipes for a nice evening with my boyfriend. After browsing a few different recipes, I decided to keep it simple and go for a chocolate and vanilla mug cake.

The beauty of a mug cake is that they are easy to make and do not require too many ingredients or an oven. I was in graduate school when I experienced my first mug cake. Rather than mixing the ingredients myself though, I bought a pre-packaged product that only required water and a microwave. I remember enjoying the cake, but I noted that the treat had a synthetic taste. Combining powder, water, and heat in this manner reminded me of the “Easy-Bake Ovens” of my youth. Now, with a kitchen of my own, I have more room to experiment and make an authentic tiny cakes.

First, I began to prepare the chocolate mug cake with this recipe. The recipe called for flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, milk, canola oil, vanilla extract, and semisweet chocolate chips, all in modest proportions. Due to ingredient availability, I substituted olive oil for canola oil, used dark chocolate cocoa powder (an upgrade!), and had to omit the chocolate chips. The recipe is straightforward and the combining of ingredients can take place directly in the mug. Before I put the chocolate batter into the microwave, I combined the vanilla mug cake ingredients, which included unsalted butter, milk, vanilla extract, an egg yolk, white sugar, flour, baking powder, and sprinkles. The recipe suggests that an egg yolk may be substituted with a tablespoon of milk, which I did to spare our modest egg supply.

After no more than two minutes in the microwave both batters were baked, and the cakes were ready for frosting. Only the vanilla cake recipe came with frosting instructions, which included two tablespoons of unsalted butter, two to three tablespoons of powdered sugar, and one teaspoon of milk. I made the vanilla frosting first and then used that as a guide for chocolate frosting (by adding cocoa powder to the mix).

Overall, the cakes turned out with mixed results. The chocolate cake was fabulous! It was moist and paired well with the frosting. As for the vanilla mug cake… I’m glad that I had prepared that one for myself, because I would not want to serve that to another human being. The cake had a rubbery texture. Perhaps, this was because I substituted the egg yolk for a tablespoon of milk. Egg yolks give cakes more moisture, which I missed out on by making this substitution (which was sanctioned by this recipe). Personally, I was also not a fan of the frosting, as the added sugar to the frosting did little to mask the buttery base. Regardless of the outcome, the experience of preparing two tiny dishes was worth it for the amusement of the procedure alone.

If you are looking for little activities to entertain yourself while you are stuck inside, Dear Reader, try thinking small!



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