Adventures in Student Cooking

Adventures In Student Cooking: Getting Mugged

6 March 2018

The Chef
— Really can’t cook, but tries hard
— Would have already died in apocalyptic scenario
— Good at picking My Kitchen Rules winners
— Irrationally dislikes onion

The Setup
— One small fridge with freezer compartment
— Three gas stove burners (one is broken)
— One microwave that burns the outside of frozen meals while failing to defrost
the center


Confession: I am a person who snacks, a lot. I don’t tend to eat huge meals but I generally eat at least every two hours. This means that I get hungry at inconvenient times, i.e. within the midnight—2am range. The thing about getting hungry at this time is that I usually want something a) warm and b) sweet, but also c) super fast.

The idea of cake in a mug is honestly one of the most attractive things I can think of, ever. It meets all of my criteria for the perfect midnight snack; you just have to remember to stop the microwave before it beeps. So, this week I set out to find a great mug cake recipe.

Attempt One: The Anti-Mug Cake

This was my little home-made disaster. The recipe for this mug cake included:

— self-raising flour
— cocoa
salt
— brown sugar
— egg
milk
butter
— vanilla extract

To be fair, I am that annoying person in the comments section of every recipe that’s like, ‘I left the tomatoes out of this tomato sauce and it was super bland! 0/5 stars!’. Vanilla extract was too expensive, and since I don’t have an oven, baking ingredients like self-raising flour takes up unnecessary space in my small cupboard and aren’t worth it. It was a really fiddly little recipe because of the amount of ingredients, even though to actually make it you just have to mix everything together and chuck it in the microwave. If, like me, you don’t already have all the ingredients, the amount you’re going to use for this recipe is so tiny that it’s probably not going to be cost effective. This one didn’t taste great. It wasn’t sweet enough for me, and the consistency was a little slimy and weird.

However, the worst/most entertaining part was the mess. The mixture completely spilled out over the sides and ended up looking more like a failed science experiment than a cake. There was more cake outside the mug than inside it; it was a good anti-mug cake! This meant that there were lots of cake remnants cooked onto the outside of my mug, which was a PAIN to clean. I don’t know if I can talk about the state of my microwave.  On the plus side, the crispy bits were pretty delicious!

Rating: 5/10


Attempt Two: Milk Was A Good Choice

When I was at the supermarket, I noticed some White Wings cake-in-a-mug instant mixes.

Instant mixes are my own personal brand of heroin, or whatever that awful goddamn quote from Twilight was.

I LOVE them. It’s amazing how you can feel like you’ve made something yourself when really the most effort required was to turn on the microwave. These instant mixes come in several flavours but for the sake of consistency/lack of raspberries (because I absolutely detest them) I chose the chocolate flavour.

For these, you just mix the instant powder with a teaspoon of milk and stick it in the microwave for 90 seconds. The mix seemed super thick – it’s definitely thicker than a brownie batter – so I was a little concerned, but this turned out great. It’s a little dry but springy, and actually tastes like a cake. The dryness is just a good excuse to add cream. It’s nice and sweet with tiny pieces of chocolate spread throughout. Plus, no mess!

I think the biggest downside of this one is the amount. While the other cake spilled over the mug because there was too much, this one barely reached halfway up the mug. However, because it’s so rich, I don’t think you’d need much more.

Rating: 8.5/10


Bonus Round

Okay, so, story time. When I was in college last year, the biggest issue in my level’s kitchenette (aside from the proliferation of dirty dishes) was the fridge. Every single time it was opened, it would start loudly pronouncing its existence in the form of never-ending beeping. Obviously, not ideal for making a midnight mug cake. Plus, we often ran out of communal milk and I absolutely would not walk all the way downstairs to get a clandestine teaspoon of milk from the kitchen just to add to my premix. So, this tip is for everyone who also has an annoyingly loud fridge! Also just in case you don’t have/don’t like milk, have let it expire or simply can’t be bothered:

Just add water!

This tip can transform ordinary girls into mermaids in the iconic TV series, H20: Just Add Water, and it can make a premix mug cake that’s just as good as with milk. I found that adding a bit more water than I would milk works better but I usually just eyeball the mixture to check the consistency.

Rating: 9/10 (tastes the same but it’s lazier)

Even though my successful attempt wasn’t really something I’d made myself, I’m happy overall.  It’s both the better tasting option and the more cost effective option. If you are interested in trying the first recipe, please, for the sake of your mug, your microwave, and your sanity, use the biggest mug you own. My goal for next column is to not make a horrendous mess.

The bar has reached a new low.  


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