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Eva’s Eats: Sweet surrender – birthday cake blues

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A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine had a birthday, and I found myself frosting a cake for about the umpteenth time in my life. Cakes aren’t my favorite thing to come out of a bakery, but it was decided a long time ago that birthdays and cakes go hand in hand. As I spread the rich frosting over the chocolatey exterior of the cake and adorned it with chocolate dipped strawberries, it was then that I remembered the bane of celebrating birthdays while living in the dorms of my last school. It was a tradition of sorts to go knocking on people’s doors at midnight on the eve of their birthday with one of those “just add water” mug cakes from Betty Crocker. Here I am a year later, back in my own kitchen with all of my gadgets, wondering if it was at all worth it.

Thus, we come to this week’s topic: the mug cake! A revolutionary idea surely, in theory at least. However, as appealing a concept as it may be, I had never had one before. For me, a homemade cake is possible even without an oven; just apply the same basic Betty Crocker cake in a box principles to your own recipe, and viola, you have a delicious, gooey 90 second cake. Understandably though, not a lot of people have the flour, baking powder, vanilla extract, and other baking necessities available in their dorm room, so I figured I’d give ol’ Mrs. Crocker a shot before comparing her “no-bake” microwave delight to my own.

 

In order to get the full insta-cake experience, I chose two varieties: rainbow cake with rainbow chip frosting and chocolate fudge cake.The instructions for both cakes were easy enough; pour the batter mix into a 12 oz microwave safe mug, mix in 3 tbsp of water, nuke for a minute, and squeeze on the frosting.These are my thoughts:

Chocolate Fudge:

  • Very rich, with a sponge like texture
  • Somewhat dry as it cooled
  • The grainy fudge frosting was not enough to moisten the cake. Rather, it’s own unsettling texture just made it that much weirder
  • Strange, almost cough syrup like after taste

If you want chocolate cake, just buy some Entenmann’s!

Rainbow Chip:

  • Same spongy texture
  • Stayed somewhat fluffy as it cooled, as well as seeing a taste improvement
  • It’s rainbow chip frosting so, yeah, no complaints there

If you’ve got your heart set on mug cake, this is the way to go. It comes with twice the frosting and maintains its texture as it cools. I found that it tastes better after letting it cool for a few minutes.

 

For my original mug cake recipe you will need:

  • Equal parts flour and sugar (I used a 2 oz shot glass to measure it out, leveling both off at the top.
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • 2 oz milk
  • 2 oz veg oil
  • 2 oz chocolate chips
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • 12 oz mug

Using the same idea as the store bought mug cake, simply add your flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt to the mug, thoroughly combining the ingredients with a fork, before adding the milk, veg oil, and vanilla. Mix together until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips, and microwave for 90 seconds. I topped mine with more chocolate chips and sprinkles.

What comes out is a fudgy, gooey, brownie like cake, that pairs excellently with a glass of milk. The chocolate chips create lovely little pockets of chocolatey goodness in each bite, and the flavor is almost as rich as one might expect with a traditional cake.

This recipe will likely put you back a little more financially than the Betty Crocker mug variety, but at the end of the day, you will be able to make more cakes for less and get a whole lot more out of it flavor wise. If the endeavor of making your own cake seems too much, go for the rainbow cake, or just pay up for a premade one- the birthday boy or girl will thank you.

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