Cakes in a cup

Investigate the chemistry of cakes by making microwave mug cakes and seeing what happens when you leave out key ingredients from the recipe.

a girl stirs something in a cup with a spoon
Sally making her first microwave mug cake


Make a simple cake batter and cook it in a microwave.

ExpeRiment with different combinations of ingredients to see what effect they have.

Learn how the ingredients react together to make cake.

About this activity

Jo and her daughter Sally investigate the chemistry of cakes by making microwave mug cakes in this fun kitchen science experiment. They follow the recipe for the perfect cake, then investigate what happens if they try making the cakes without certain ingredients. This scientific approach reveals which ingredient does what to the cake. They discover how baking powder is needed to make a cake spongy, because of the carbon dioxide gas it produces; how an egg with its long chain-like molecules gives structure; and how oil coats the other ingredients to stop them drying out, leaving a nice moist cake.

Experimenting in the kitchen is a great way to get children thinking like scientists while they have fun, and make something delicious.