I've made Chocolate Microwave Cake several times; it's not as good as our Small Chocolate Cake (the un-wacky one) but it's definitely nice to have a cake recipe that bakes in 10 minutes without heating up the kitchen. I used to do more baking in the toaster oven, but the one we have right now doesn't seem to hold a steady enough heat to bake things well. It makes toast and heats leftovers, but I don't quite trust it for cakes.
Yesterday I wanted a non-chocolate cake to put with some blueberries and whipped cream. If that sounds too much like Sunday dinner, it's because yesterday was actually a holiday here and I wanted something special. But it's still hot and muggy (and seems to be raining every time you turn around), and I haven't been using the big oven. Hmm...any other kinds of cake you can make in the microwave? Carrot--not what I wanted...no vanilla or yellow cakes except for cake-mix directions. Actually that's pretty understandable, because Microwaves Don't Brown Things. Who wants a pasty white cake?
Well, I did; I didn't care if it browned, because I was going to cover it with blueberries and whipped cream anyway. So I adapted the chocolate cake recipe, and this is what I came up with. Note that it's both dairy- and egg-free (but you'd have to use a dairy-free topping for the shortcake).
1 3/4 cup all-purpose or unbleached flour
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder (the chocolate cake used baking soda, but I didn't think that sounded right for a plain white cake)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
Blend the dry and wet ingredients separately, then combine.
Choose your baking dish carefully: non-metal, obviously, and something that will turn around easily if you have a turntable in the microwave. Our microwave is too small to allow an 8-inch square pan to go around without getting stuck, so I use a 6-cup round casserole dish. I read somewhere that microwave cakes turn out better if you don't grease the dish; but do line the bottom with waxed paper.
Scrape the batter into the prepared dish, and microwave about 10 minutes or until the edges of the cake just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. (Our microwave tends to take a bit longer than some (and only bakes on full power), so you might want to test it a couple of minutes before that or put it on a different setting.) The top will be just a bit sticky, but the cake should test done (with a toothpick or cake tester). Let it cool a bit in the pan (the edges will pull away more), then turn it out onto a plate.
If you're using the cake for shortcake, cut it in half horizontally and layer it (between and on top) with blueberries and whipped cream. (I combined our whipped cream with a small amount of fruit yogurt, mostly for colour.) You could also cut it in pieces and then add topping and fruit to each serving instead (better if you have a smaller family).
Makes six generous servings or eight smaller ones.