Q. What does "MMC" mean?
A. It stands for Microwave Mug Cake. Repeatedly typing, and saying, "Microwave Mug Cake" became too taxing for us after awhile, so we came up with MMC. Of course, this book focuses on gluten-free microwave mug cakes. But, to save space, we've usually abbreviated gluten-free microwave mug cake as "MMC."
Q. What's the difference between an MMC and a muffin?
A. An MMC looks a lot like a muffin, and when it's fresh from the microwave oven, it tastes just as good as a warm muffin. But an MMC takes far less time, energy, and equipment to prepare than a muffin does.
Q. What type of mug should I use?
A. You need a mug that can hold 16 ounces of liquid and, to create a solid MMC that can stand on its own, we suggest that you use a mug that's shaped like a cylinder. However, you may use a tapered mug if you don't mind a bit of wobbling.
Q. Do I have to remove my MMC from the mug before I eat it?
A. This has been a source of heated debate among intrepid MMC testers. There are two schools of thought. The first holds that fewer dishes are better, and as long as you wait about 5 minutes for a baked MMC to cool off, you can eat it directly from the mug. The second holds that you simply can't fit enough frosting on an MMC that's trapped in a mug, and unmolding the MMC before you eat it is a must. The choice is yours. Be warned, though, that since this is such a volatile subject, it's best not to bring the topic up anyplace where the volume of the conversation can be an issue.
Q. What do I do if my microwave mug cake breaks in half while I'm removing it from the mug?
A. Use frosting to "glue" it back together again, and relax. No one will care.
Q. Do I have to use the frosting and decoration combinations that you suggest in the "fancy stuff" portion of the recipes?
A. No. The suggestions are just that. Create your own favorite frostings and decorations, or eat the microwave mug cake bare. Have it the way you like it — it's your MMC!
Q. Do I have to measure the ingredients?
A. Please do. Because it only takes a small amount of ingredients to make an MMC, the proportions matter more than in other types of baking. "Eyeballing" the orange juice and pouring in a couple of "glops" may be fine if you're making a muffin. But the same glopping instead of precise measuring can cause the batter to spill over the mug and run all over your microwave. We're not trying to make your life difficult here. We're just trying to save your microwave oven — and your mug.
Q. Do I have to use a mixer and have a perfectly smooth batter?
A. No mixer is required, but do thoroughly mix the batter with a spoon or a whisk, and remove as many of the lumps as you can.
Q. Is it okay to use an egg substitute instead of an egg?
A. We'd say "no." Our intrepid MMC testers couldn't get egg substitutes to work, and they made many messes trying.
Q. What happens if I substitute, say, regular all-purpose flour for gluten-free all-purpose flour, or buckwheat flour for millet flour?
A. You do not want to substitute one flour for another unless you really, really, really know what you're doing. Each type of flour has its own density, flavor, and other properties. They are not interchangeable. Two tablespoons of sorghum flour do not necessarily equal two tablespoons of quinoa flour, nor does coconut flour have the same density as, say, millet flour. The only flours we consider interchangeable are brown and white rice flour. Take your pick, although we've found that brown rice flour lends a wonderfully rich, golden color to the finished MMC.
Q. All of the microwave mug cakes recipes say "1/2 teaspoon guar gum, xantham gum, or tapioca flour." Why is that?
A. All gluten-free microwave mug cake recipes require a thickener to replace the gluten. Guar gum, xantham gum, and tapioca flour all work equally well in the recipes. Choose whichever you prefer (or whichever is least expensive or most readily available).
Q. Some of the ingredients in the recipes specify "gluten-free," and some do not. Why is that?
A. We've specified "gluten-free" when failing to do so might have caused confusion. Anytime you're making gluten-free microwave mug cakes, all the ingredients you use should, of course, be gluten-free products.
Q. Are you sure that the products you've specified in these recipes are gluten-free?
A. No. We checked with the manufacturer of each product we mention and, in each case, were told that as of that phone call or email exchange the product was gluten-free. In numerous other cases, manufacturers of brands we know and routinely use assured us that their products were gluten-free – but that, for legal reasons, they weren't ready to make an official claim to that effect. Given that, and the fact that this is your health and your family members' and friends' health we're discussing, always check with the manufacturer for the most current gluten-related information for a product before you use it to make a gluten-free microwave mug cake.
Q. How can I store an uneaten portion of my microwave mug cake for another day?
A. Don't. By the next day, you can use the leftover MMC as a paperweight. Besides, you're always less than 10 minutes away from a new one. If you want to save some of your MMC for later the same day, however, you can try plastic wrap (or plastic ware) and hope for the best.
Q. Why do you suggest that I thump the batter-filled mug six times before baking it?
A. Because we felt that, on the seventh thump, you might break the mug. Seriously, thumping the mug firmly several times removes excess air bubbles and ensures that your finished gluten-free microwave mug cake won't end up lopsided.
Q. Should I add salt to the batter?
A. No. Microwave mug cakes don't require any salt.
Q. Vanilla extract: real or imitation?
A. We'd go with the real stuff. It's more expensive, but we think that it tastes better than the artificial flavoring.
Q. What type of milk do your recipes require?
A. We use 1% milk when a recipe calls for just "milk." Otherwise, we use soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk, as the recipe indicates.
Q. What type of oil should I use?
A. We use canola oil, and that turns out just fine. It's okay to use your favorite gluten-free cooking oil, but we'd steer clear of olive oil because of its pungent flavor.
Q. Is it okay to substitute white sugar in recipes that require light brown sugar?
A. We wouldn't, especially if you plan to eat your gluten-free MMC without frosting it (or to serve it to someone else). Since the microwave oven doesn't brown baked goods, the light brown sugar gives your MMC a finished look.
Q. What if I run out of an ingredient?
A. You can always substitute one flavor for another flavor of the same food type (the exception is, of course, flour – flours are not interchangeable). For example, you can use vanilla or chocolate pudding powder in place of pistachio pudding powder; you can swap lemon or mixed berry yogurt for strawberry yogurt. In fact, making these substitutions is a great way to unleash your creativity. Try it, and let us know what you come up with!
Q. What happens if I want to get really creative — say, adding an extra two tablespoons of yogurt to a recipe, squirting in some pickle juice, or mixing together three different flavors of baby food?
A. Good luck with that — and really get ready to thoroughly clean up your microwave oven or forfeit your mug after your experiments in the event that things go wrong. In our experience, they probably will.
Q. Is this real baking, or is it a gimmick?
A. Not unless you sense the neighbors are watching. Finger foods can be fun.
Q. Is it selfish to bake a gluten-free microwave mug cake for yourself?
A. Yes, but "selfish" isn't always a bad thing. Your loved ones want to see you happy, and if a gluten-free microwave mug cake can make your day, then go for it.
Q. How hot does the mug get once the MMC is baked?
A. Extremely hot. Wait two minutes before you remove the cake from the mug. And wait about five more minutes before you wash out the mug. Clean mugs are good. Burns are not.
Q. Must I use a fork to eat my gluten-free MMC?
A. Not unless you sense the neighbors are watching. Finger foods can be fun.
Q. What can I use to frost my gluten-free MMC?
A. In the first place, you can eat every MMC "as is." But, if you want to get into the fancy stuff, you can top your MMC with frosting (any gluten-free topping is fine), yogurt, and so forth. We have recommended specific frostings and toppings … but let your imagination be your guide.
Q. I'm unfamiliar with gluten-free baking. Is there a steep learning curve?
A. As long as you follow the recipes exactly, you'll be able to make a perfect gluten-free MMC the first time you try and every time thereafter. Later, you might expand your repertoire to include other types of gluten-free baking. But, for now, you can rest assured that you no longer have to deprive yourself of a delicious homemade snack just because you're on a gluten-free diet. Bring on the ingredients that are new to you, roll up your sleeves, and explore!
Q. Are you aware that the word "healthier" rightly applies only to living organisms – thus, recipes cannot actually be "healthier," and you're overtly and unabashedly misusing the word "healthier" in the subtitle of this book?
A. Yes. Thank you.
Q. Stacey, you wrote the book alone. Why, then, do you refer to yourself in the first person, plural, throughout the text?
A. We don't know, but it worries us.