A MUG is typically used for drinking tea, coffee and sometimes soup out of.

It can also be used to collect loose change in, or as a pot for pens and pencils or maybe homemade candles, but it’s also very handy for baking delicious cakes in .

Winter is a time we tend to seek out comfort foods and don’t stop at one chocolate digestive biscuit.

Going into the colder winter months, one of my favourite puddings is a golden syrup pudding, if you can find one today.

But who steams puddings today in a simmering big pan of boiling water for two hours? Not me.

I will tell you what does float my boat: a cup full of sticky deliciousness, stupidly-simple-to-make, and I have to say the only thing more satisfying than cake, is a mug cake.

You can muster it up in minutes with minimal weighing and not a warehouse of ingredients, with the added bonus of no washing up.

Your mug cake will always be a Blondie as the golden brown comes from the caramelisation of the sugar. It’s well worth queuing up at the microwave with your spoons in hand waiting for the ping.

Golden syrup has a fascinating history and sums up British baking, but oddly it was never intended to be a commercial product. Thank goodness it became one.

The story goes back to a businessman from Scotland called Abram Lyle who owned a sugar-refinery. One by-product of this process was thick, gloopy syrup which he sold to his workers, who nicknamed it ‘’Goldy’’. Soon, Goldy became popular outside of this workforce and everyone wanted some.

It was sold in a tin, and today the tin is a icon with the famous drawing of a dead lion peppered with swarming bees.

Mr Lyle was a very pious man, and used the story of Samson in the Book Of Judges from the Old Testament.

Samson was attacked by a lion which, through his power, Samson was able to rip open, killing it.

He later saw that bees had built a hive within the carcass and he took the honey to his family to feast on, and said unto them, “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness”.

For over 125 years the golden nectar has been in daily use and is indispensable - even taken on Captain Scott’s fateful trek to the Antarctic, to make gingerbread, Parkin and flapjacks.

Who said my mug shot was ugly – it had unflattering lighting!

Makes one golden syrup mug-cake


3 tablespoons self-raising flour

Half teaspoon ground ginger or mixed spice

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 medium egg

2 tablespoons milk or cream

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or sunflower

A few scrapes of lemon zest, optional

1 tablespoon toasted flaked almonds, optional

1 tablespoon golden syrup


1. Pour the flour, sugar, egg, milk, oil and lemon zest into a large, deep mug.

2. Beat the mixture well with a fork until smooth.

3. Spoon a generous dollop of golden syrup into the centre of the batter and scatter over the toasted flaked almonds.

4. Place the mug into the microwave oven and cook on high for two to three minutes (800 watts) until the cake is firm to touch and has come away from the sides.

5. Be careful though, the cup will be very hot when you take it out of the microwave oven.

6. Allow to stand for one minute, then serve in the mug or tip it out into a bowl with piping hot custard, cream or ice cream.

Serving suggestions

Piping hot custard or vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of golden syrup.

Baker Mike’s mug cake top tips

* Anything microwave will work – glasses, jars, ceramics or even paper cups.

* The most important thing to remember is not to fill the mug more than half full with the batter.

* Use your best judgment and experiment, it only takes one or two mugs to become an expert.

* Always use the shortest cooking time, then check the cake is springy and firm on top. If not, keep cooking in 15-second bursts.