The day of my dinner party, our oven was condemned! It was an absolute potential disaster situation - not just for the event, but also because at that point we didn't have a definite moving date. Thankfully. Ryan rescued the dinner party menu by cooking on a camping stove, but it got me thinking about baking. Not a dedicated cake maker, but with the inclination to dabble and tap into my inner Mary Berry, would it be possible to indulge my sweet tooth without an oven. With mug cakes having been on my radar for a while, I knew that it was something I just had to give a go.
Not wanting to dive into the deep end and start guessing, I decided to follow a reputable recipe, and chose this one from the BBC Good Food website. The steps seemed simple enough to follow, and with a shiny new microwave on my side, one weekend, finding myself with some time on my hands, I collected the ingredients, swept my hair off my face, and got my baking hat on.
In principle, the cake should have been easy enough to make. There were however some ever so slight hiccups along the way that I didn't initially factor into the equation. Firstly, making the switch from mixing bowl to mug was a little tricky when it came to mixing ingredients. It was nearly impossible to see if everything was mixed thoroughly, and initially really difficult to decide on just what to use to combine everything. A wooden or silicone spoon is my usual weapon of choice, but these were far too big for the mug, so instead a metal dessert spoon seemed appropriate. Whilst this seemed to be just the ticket at first, it soon became clear that everything was going to get stuck to the surface of the spoon, so I had to periodically stop and shake the mixture back into the mug. Not an arduous task, but one that definitely made whipping up the mixture a little longer than expected.
The second hitch was getting the timings right for the mug cake. The recipe and method indicated that in between 4 and 5 minutes should be adequate for the cake to cook sufficiently. However, without a large surface area for the mixture, deciding whether the cake was done all the way through was quite hard to deduce, resulting in me "over-baking" slightly. I think if I had known the microwave a little better this wouldn't have been so much of an issue, but this being the first time I had used it, things were not on my side.
However, when the cake finally emerged from the microwave I was really surprised to see how well-risen it was, and, more importantly, how much it actually tasted like a cake! The texture was a little dry, but there were fluffier patches, and the chocolate chips that I had added were dispersed pretty evenly. It was the perfect portion size for Ryan and I to share too without either of us feeling too naughty about it.
Hiccups aside, I think that the concept of making microwavable mug cakes is really smart. To an extent, it is incredibly child-friendly and easy to do - the perfect rainy day activity. They would also be really fun to whip up if you have somebody pop round for a cup of tea and you don't want to go overboard with providing too many accompanying sweet treats. With a recipe that I think must be quite universal, it also means that you can experiment easily with flavour combination (I'm tempted to try a Rocky Road inspired concoction next). And most importantly, you don't need an oven at all! So if you ever find yourself in a similar situation to us, you can still get your baking fix in a few simple steps.