Are Mug Cakes Actually Good?


Claire Lawrence, Reporter

If you’re like me, you’ve always been skeptical of mug cakes. I’ve always seen those “tutorials” for them online, and they seem to turn out moist and chocolate-y. One night I had a peculiar craving for chocolate and decided to put the most popular recipes to the test. I decided to try out three common recipes to see which was the best. (for science, of course) I ended up trying recipes by Buzzfeed Tasty, Table for Two, and Bigger Bolder Baking.

Buzzfeed had a very quick paced video to go with their recipe and I thought it would be fun to try it. After all, just about everyone had been tempted by Buzzfeed intriguing camera angles and suspicious recipes. Table for Two had the first recipe to come up when I Google searched “chocolate mug cake.” They advertised their recipe as “The Moistest Chocolate Mug Cake!” so I decided that Table for Two had an intriguing recipe that wasn’t Buzzfeed. Lastly, Bigger Bolder Baking had a recipe without any milk, eggs, or baking powder. My mother can’t have any dairy, so I jumped on the opportunity to try it out. The recipe was also slightly vague so I thought it would be interesting.

Just as a warning, I am no baker. However, the purpose of a mug cake is to make an easy and quick dessert in a pinch. You shouldn’t have to be an amazing cook or baker to make a good mug cake.

Let’s start out with Buzzfeed’s baking process. Their recipe consisted with a short Instagram video as well as a recipe on their website. I mostly tried to follow the video as Instagram intended, but sometimes it went too fast and I had to refer to the website. The instructions were kept vague, combining all the ingredients in a separate bowl and then pouring that into a mug. It then said to microwave on high for 1:30. When I attempted this recipe, it turned out clumpy and like sticky cookie dough. This looked nothing like the thin batter consistency of the video. After checking the recipe multiple times and concluding I did everything correctly, I just decided to add a splash or two of milk to thin it out. The final step was to add a tablespoon of Nutella to the center. My theory is that this is to substitute the process of frosting (more about this later). Upon “baking”, the cake puffed up to twice its size and was soft and jiggly, The Nutella sunk into the cake very well, giving it a warm and creamy center.


Table for Two had a much more specific recipe and instructions. In fact, this was the only recipe I didn’t have to modify slightly. The instructions called for the only ⅛ of the flour that Buzzfeed called for, so that must be why it maintained a liquid batter-like consistency. It also made me add a lot more oil and milk. After microwaved, the cake was a slight bit denser than Buzzfeed’s and the Nutella didn’t sink as much, leaving the bottom drier. Although the cake was somewhat dense, it tended to be softer than Buzzfeed’s and had a fluffier consistency.

Bigger Bolder Baking’s recipe called for much stranger ingredients. It had one tablespoon of flour less than Buzzfeed, but certainly not as little flour as Table for Two. Instead of granulated sugar, it made me use brown sugar. This was strange because brown sugar is basically a combination of molasses and granulated sugar. There was no logical reason to call for this ingredient, but they did anyway. Also, they made me use three tablespoons of almost every ingredient. This was either a coincidence or the recipe wasn’t made well. Upon mixing the ingredients in the same way Buzzfeed told us to, the recipe again turned out thick and lumpy. I wanted to maintain the milk free aspect of the cake so I decided to add more water until the consistency matched the other two. The recipe called for only one minute in the microwave, but when I pulled it out, the cake was liquidy and wasn’t puffed at all. After 30 more seconds in the microwave, it wasn’t as liquid and it only slightly puffed. This was the only recipe that didn’t have me incorporate baking powder, though. That maybe was why it didn’t puff as much. The finished cake was dry but decent for somebody like my mom who couldn’t eat regular cake.

Overall, mug cakes work but they just don’t compare to a good homemade chocolate cake. All three of the recipes weren’t sweet enough. I decided this was due to the lack of frosting. It’s okay if a regular cake is more rich and dark, but the frosting is what really balances cake out. The first two tried to supplement frosting out with Nutella, but hazelnut really overwhelms them and makes them only taste like Nutella.

In conclusion, the cakes are good in a pinch. They don’t require as many dishes as making a whole pan of cake, and they are a good single serving dessert. However, there is almost no way that they could ever compare to a moist and chocolate-y homemade cake.