In Appreciation of the Microwave + a Mug Cake

Sweets are very dangerous for me to keep around. I have absolutely no control around them, and I will eat a whole package of cookie dough (my biggest weakness) in a sitting. My best friends and I know we could never judge one another as I might have crumbs in my bed, but my roommate Keelin has Kit-Kat wrappers in hers, and Kaitlin snuck into our room the night before to eat the rest of our candy corn. Let’s be honest, sweets make everyone happy!

In addition to sweets, I love my microwave. You might think I’m an idiot for saying that, but I think the microwave is a wildly underappreciated piece of technology. It heats food in a completely different way than your oven!


Sweets and microwaves actually have a history together. In the 40’s, Percy Spencer, an engineer, was working on technology for radar. He had a chocolate bar in his pocket that melted during his work. He discovered the radar had done it, and history was made!

The microwave heats food through two mechanisms. The first is called dipole rotation. When the microwave applies its electric field, the water in the food rushes to match itself to the direction of the field. The electric field, however, changes extremely quickly, so the water is constantly moving creating heat by friction. This friction heats the food components surrounding the water.

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The second mechanism is ionic polarization. Ionic polarization has to do with the ions in the food. In almost all cases, I mean salt. The electric field applied by the microwave causes the salt to move because of the nature of the salt. The salt’s movement creates kinetic energy which is converted by collisions with other food components to thermal energy—heat. The more salt, the more movement and collisions, and therefore more heat!

This recipe combines my love for sweets and microwaves with a mug cake. The water in the recipe from the milk and the butter as well as the salt create heat and cause the ingredients to “bake” into a cake. The basics of conventional baking are laid out here.

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Vanilla Microwave Mug Cake

I used the recipe from Table for Two and didn’t change anything.

WARNING: Check the wattage on your microwave so that you don’t overcook your mug cake.

WARNING #2: This is a very dangerous recipe to have around! As soon as you realize it’s this easy to make a personal cake for yourself…it’s all over.



One Comment

  1. Kaitlin
    September 13

    you are ABSOLUTELY amazing ! along with your treatsies

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