Hey! You know what I haven’t done in literally two years? A cheater’s recipe! Since I’m sure you don’t remember because how could you possibly, my cheater’s recipes are so called because they’re barely recipes at all. I’m a cheerful baker, but an indifferent cook. So they’re really more like assembly instructions, usually. Ideas for things that can be slapped together with minimal effort. Effort so minimal it feels like cheating! Get it?
What inspired me to return to the format after so long away? Well, thanks to many twists of fate, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time alone lately. Not alone-alone, mind you – I’ve still got the cats, so I’m never lonely – but I’m the sole human occupant of my apartment at the moment, and the only one who needs to be fed human food. (Needs. Ruffian only wants.)
So I’m temporarily back to cooking for one, which, if you ask me, is way more of a challenge than cooking for ten. Few ingredients can be readily bought in the proper proportions for just one person, which leaves you either eating the same thing a million times in a row or wasting a bunch. Not to mention the diminished motivation. I can disappoint me; it’s cool. Like, I’ve done it before, you know?
Where was I before I went down that little rabbit hole? Oh yes. Cooking for one. I bet one element of my isolation is the same as yours: COVID. Gotta stay inside! And because you gotta stay inside, you might be looking at a very diminished Thanksgiving party. Heck, it might be just you. What are you gonna do, bake an entire cake for one person?
No! But you know what you can do? Make a single-serving mug cake!
If you’re not familiar with mug cakes, they’re a small-scale cake recipe designed to be assembled in a mug and cooked – wait for it – in your microwave. I’ve been making them for myself lately when I want something sweet that won’t leave me with an enormous yield of too many cookies or whatever. They’re easy, they’re pretty good, and they satisfy the sweet tooth.
I wanted to bring some of that magic to you, so I created a new recipe with the holidays in mind, and so I give you: the holiday orange (aka pomander) mug cake!
Pomanders are those traditional oranges people like to stab with cloves and put up around Christmastime, for the smell and also the aesthetics. I used this recipe for vanilla mug cake as a base, and then messed around with the ingredients until I got what I was after.
A few notes before we start:
If you’ve never had a mug cake before, temper your expectations – you’re not going to get a fluffy birthday cake. I’d liken the consistency more to a moist, spongy muffin. Still satisfying, but it’s a different animal.
I use 1/4 teaspoon of orange essence because I found the full 1/2 teaspoon to be a bit too tart. If you like a really strong orange flavor, feel free to go for the entire 1/2 teaspoon.
I also reduced the amount of sugar and butter in the recipe by a full tablespoon each. If you’re after a richer treat, feel free to add them back, but be sure to reduce the milk by a tablespoon, too.
Okay, now – go!
Holiday Orange Mug Cake
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp orange extract
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
Melt the butter in the mug (you may want to grease the mug first, but I don’t think it’s strictly necessary).
In a separate cup or bowl, mix the milk, orange extract, and sugar together.
Add your mixture to the butter and combine. Then add your remaining dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix until combined.
Nuke in the microwave for approximately 70-80 seconds, give or take. Adjust to your microwave’s usual strength; they all have different outlooks on life and how fast they’re willing to cook things therefore.
Let the mug cake cool for five minutes or so. You can garnish it with whipped cream, or cream cheese frosting, or sprinkles, or anything else you like. Or you can eat it plain. Enjoy!
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