I didn’t intend to create a microwave cake recipe. But I was looking for a way to “bake a cake” in a plastic container (more on that at another time) and naturally, I started experimenting with some of the microwave cake recipes I found online.
I quickly discovered that many microwave cakes have a rubbery texture and/or more than a hint of “poached egg” flavor. Another big difficulty with microwaved cake is how quickly they dry out — which is quickly. Very, very quickly.
So I started experimenting. Approximately sixty microwave cake recipe experiments later, I had this cake.
Gathering microwaved cake supplies.
Microwave Cake Ingredients
1 box cake mix
I strongly recommend using one of the Betty Crocker “SuperMoist” mixes. I tried several different brands/flavors and the Betty Crocker “SuperMoist” was the standout every time.
IMPORTANT: Avoid dense cakes like “fudge cake” or “pound cake”. Those are just hockey pucks waiting to be nuked.
1 box (3.4 size) instant pudding in a similar or complementary flavor
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon meringue powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-1/3 cup milk
Non-stick cooking spray
2 – 9″ glass (or other microwave-safe material) pans
Your favorite easy-to-spread frosting
The Not-So-Secret ingredients: meringue powder
The Secret Ingredient
Eggs are a vital ingredient in most cake recipes… but when you microwave a cake with eggs in the recipe, you can easily end up with cake that has a hint of “poached egg” taste and the texture of a rubber chicken. I tried a variety of alternate recipes including: eliminating egg (good for making cake crumbles), substituting egg with applesauce (not bad if you like applesauce cake), substituting egg with prepared pudding (good for a burnt candy flavor), and a host of experiments not worthy of mention.
I know that Meringue Powder isn’t a standard ingredient in a lot of kitchens, but it’s the secret to making a moist “non-eggy” microwaved cake. Meringue Powder can be found in most cake supply stores or craft stores with a cake decorating section. I buy it at the local Michael’s Arts & Crafts store.
Batter will be lumpy -- it's okay.
Microwave Cake Instructions
Combine box of cake mix (dry), pudding mix (dry), and meringue powder in a large mixing bowl. Thoroughly mix ingredients. Break up any large clumps.
Add oil and milk. Mix by hand for approximately one minute.
Don’t worry about small lumps in the batter.
Batter spread in pan
Spray two 9″ x 9″ microwave-safe containers with cooking spray.
Spread 1/2 of the batter in each pan. Spread evenly. Or as evenly as humanly possible. Don’t worry about those few little bits of dry mix — it’s part of the microwave’s magic to make those disappear.
Watching cake in microwave.
Place one batter-filled pan in microwave. Now here’s the dicey part: Cooking Time. As you likely know, microwave ovens vary greatly in “power and efficiency” and that means there are no absolutes when it comes to “just how long” you should microwave your cake.
My microwave is ten years old and lists “wattage output” at 1100W. The perfect microwaving time/power setting with my microwave is 3 minutes and 45 seconds at Full Power. If your microwave has a lower wattage, you might need a longer bake time. If your microwave has a higher wattage, you might need a shorter time (or less than full power).
When the first layer is finished “baking”, cover tightly and then microwave second layer. When finished, cover second layer. Allow both layers to cool before frosting (but keep tightly covered). Covering the cakes helps keep them moist — as mentioned earlier, one of the biggest difficulties with microwaved cakes is how quickly they dry out.
Finished microwaved cake.
Finished Microwaved Cake
And here’s the unfrosted cake — in just over seven minutes of “bake” time, you have moist, delicious cake!
“Lumpy?” Yes, it does look a bit lumpy, but it doesn’t taste lumpy at all. And I’ve not found a solution to the visual problem that doesn’t sacrifice taste… so always remember: frosting is our Cakey Cosmetic friend.
Frosted microwaved cake -- good enough to eat.
Frosting the Microwaved Cake
Microwaved cake is more fragile than an oven-baked cake and requires a “soft” frosting. Homemade buttercream frosting works well. If you’re selecting a “canned frosting”, select one of the whipped varieties as the standard canned frostings will be nearly impossible to spread on microwaved cake without shredding the cake.
Suitable for Company?
The taste of this cake is certainly suitable for company, but because you can’t make this cake too far in advance and then the cake has to cool before frosting, it’s a difficult dessert to prepare without abandoning your guests.
But it’s the perfect quick and easy treat for casual gatherings and lazy family weekends.