Meg Makes: Winning mug cake's secret? Homemade applesauce

Meg Makes: Winning mug cake's secret? Homemade applesauce

I recently had the pleasure of judging a mug-cake bake-off at Prairie Winds of Urbana, an assisted-living center where apparently, a healthy sense of competition thrives.

Mug cakes are just what they sound like. They start with a mix of cake mix, angel-food cake mix and sugar-free instant pudding. Then, when you want a single serving of cake, you mix in some water, heat the batter in a coffee mug in the microwave, and ta-da! Warm, delicious cake.

It seems like a great option if you have a hankering for something sweet, or if it's too hot outside to turn on your oven.

Now, for the bake-off, Prairie Winds residents had many, many choices: they could make lemon cake, strawberry cake, vanilla cake, red velvet cake, and so on. The options seemed endless to this judge.

And that doesn't include their choices for add-ons: strawberries, sprinkles, pecans, marshmallows and more.

They were using jars of frosting: My favorite was a raspberry-white chocolate combination, which Prairie Winds Culinary Manager Devin Blobaum said started with a Duncan Hines frosting base and was created with add-ins of the same brand. On top of a chocolate cake with real chocolate melted inside, it was incredible.

The winner, though, took add-ons into her own hands. Lois Roney said her speciality has always been making spice cakes with homemade applesauce. Don't bother with the store-bought stuff, she said, because it doesn't add the right texture. But homemade — that's the solution for a dry cake, she told me.

In the true spirit of mug baking, she made her own applesauce in the microwave to be included in her spice cake. She peeled and quartered gala apples, and cooked them with about cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl until they were soft. Then, she stirred in cinnamon candies — I grew up thinking of them as Red Hots — until her applesauce turned red.

Here's the rest of her winning mug-cake recipe.

Mug-Cake Mix

Servings: About 48 mugs.

1 box of angel-food cake mix

1 box sugar-free instant pudding mix

1 box cake mix, flavor of your choice (this recipe calls for spice cake mix)

Combine ingredients; when ready to make one serving, pour into coffee mug, add 1 tablespoon water, then microwave for one minute.

Lois' Winning Apple-Spice Mug Cake

1 tablespoon homemade applesauce

1 tablespoon water

3 tablespoons mug-cake mix

Mix ingredients in a coffee mug.

Heat in microwave for one minute.

Turn out onto a small plate and sprinkle with sugar for a simple but beautiful presentation.

Meg Dickinson is a local communications professional who spends many of her waking hours daydreaming about food. To submit a recipe for her consideration, email her at

Sections (1):Living
Topics (2):Food, People

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