Personal Growth Lessons from My 5-minute Mug Cake Fails

Photo by Hannah Pemberton on Unsplash

On Monday, my sister came over. We had lunch together. After we were done, she asked for dessert but we didn’t have any. To satisfy our sweet tooth, I hopped on YouTube to find a quick fix.

I found a 5-minute mug cake recipe. I quickly glanced through the recipe and decided to give it a go. Now I don’t call myself a pastry chef, but I know a thing or two about baking a cake. So, this seemed like a done deal.

I gathered all the ingredients, took out a huge mug, and without hesitating got started. I mixed the dry ingredients and then added the rest. A quick mix with a fork and the batter was ready.

So far so good.

Confident about my masterpiece spinning in the microwave, I hollered my sister to check out the surprise dessert. I was proud of myself for churning out a quick solution. My mouth watered as I thought of consuming this scrumptious dessert.

As the timer set off, my excitement took a backseat, anticipation arose and reality started to sink in. I took out the mug and to my delight, it was a perfectly risen cake.


Well, not just yet.

You see appearance is just a part of it. The taste matters the most. Alas, this is where I failed. It was cooked perfectly but the cocoa powder overpowered the sweetness of the sugar. My Sister found it to be an acceptable flavor, but my mother didn’t.

5-minute mug cake: Take 2

I am nothing but ambitious. When it comes to cooking, I love experimentation more than cooking itself. So, I decided to try once more by altering the amount of cocoa. Now it is bound to work out, right? I scraped off the remains of Nutella as the jar was almost empty. To add some quick caramel sweetness, I dropped a caramel toffee in the mix.

Onto the microwave, this time a bit nervous but hopeful.

Let this be right this time, I prayed.

Well, sadly this one was even more problematic. You see, the cocoa bitterness was gone, but there was an unpleasant saltiness.

So much for the caramel richness!

If you think I was discouraged by my failures, you are wrong.
They made me more curious. I like to learn and improve. I was determined to figure out the perfect balance of ingredients.

The YouTube recipe went down the gutter and I was steering this ship solo.

5-minute mug cake: Take 3

For the third batch, I skipped the pinch of salt, altered the baking powder ratio, and just added a hint of cocoa. At this point, I was prepared for impact. Fortunately, the third time is a charm. I finally had an edible soft mug cake.

It didn’t have the perfect look like the first one but perfect flavor for sure. Owing to the massive mess in the kitchen, I decided to call it a day. The 5-minute stint had cost me half an hour but I was finally satisfied.


Needless to say, I would rather bake a cake next time with a tried and tested recipe. But…..if it is midnight and I am craving a snack, this might be a contender.

Lessons from baking three 5 minute mug cakes

Whatever you do has a lesson attached to it. Honestly, this was the last thing on my mind during my spontaneous mug cake journey. As I reflected later, I realized it had some lessons for personal growth.

  1. I tasked myself with a challenge and went through the process patiently. Although I had all the necessary information, it didn’t pan out well in my favor. I had to bring in my own instincts and alter the recipe. Sometimes being familiar with something doesn’t seal the deal. You have to be adaptable to the situation and be open to the possibility of learning something new.

2. It wasn't my first time baking yet I failed. I didn't give up or lose patience. I took it as a challenge and leveled up to the trial at hand. I had to put in hard work, efficiency, and passion to achieve the desired result. In the end, it may have taken longer but I managed to get there eventually.

3. Our failures do not define us, they redirect us to be a better version of ourselves.

It wasn’t a mug cake debacle, it was a personal growth experience!



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Sarah Shaukat

An economist, journalist & writer. I focus on tech, blockchain, crypto & healthcare. I love giving writing tips and narrate stories from my everyday life.