December 1, 2020

Dorm room dishes

Sliced pineapple, cake mix, eggs, brown sugar and maraschino cherries combine to make pineapple upside down cake. PHOTO BY BRITTANY RUESS

Craving a delicious dorm room dessert? Here’s a cake recipe you’ll flip for.

If you read the first installment of “Dorm Room Dishes,” I hope you’ve tested the waters and experimented with microwave cooking. If you have, great, because it’s time to step it up a notch. This week, we’re using the microwave to bake.

Yes, it is entirely possible — and easy — to bake in your microwave oven. With only some microwave-safe dishes, you can make pies, cookies and even cakes. When cooked in a microwave, cakes are just as good and take half the time of a normal oven.

In the fall of his senior year, Webster alumnus Jeremy Clements participated in a campus cooking event called Iron Chef: Dorm Edition. The competition gave teams one hour to prepare two dishes, but with a catch. Like “Iron Chef,” the competition featured a secret ingredient — pineapple.

Clements and his teammate came up with bacon-wrapped pineapple pieces and a pineapple upside-down cake

“I was most proud of the cake,” Clements said. “The judges loved it, the cake was moist and fully cooked, and it was really good.”

To produce the best cakes using your microwave, here are some tips to remember:

Cakes dishes should not be filled over half full. Microwave baked cakes increase substantially in volume and the texture is somewhat lighter than oven-baked cakes. Save the extra batter to make cupcakes.

Bake one layer at a time and allow to cool for no longer than five minutes before removing from the dish. It’s more likely to stick if you let it sit in the pan for longer.

Overcooked cakes will be dry and slightly hard. It is always better to undercook and check for doneness frequently toward the end of cooking.

It’s not possible to brown foods in a microwave like you can in an oven, so other baked goods like pies and cookies won’t have a conventional oven-baked look. Keep this in mind when making any microwaved baked goods, because you’ll overcook them if you try to achieve a golden-brown exterior.

For cookies, any plate or flat microwave-safe dish can be used. Cookies should be scooped slightly smaller than they would be for oven baking. In the microwave, they’ll only take two to four minutes to cook on a medium power setting.

A full-sized pie takes about 20 minutes total to bake in a microwave, and the method is the same as an oven-baked pie. Crust can be homemade or store-bought, but store-bought crust should be transferred to a microwave-safe dish before baking. Make your own fresh fruit filling, or use pre-made filling to save time.

As always, remember to be creative with your microwave cooking, and do some research.

“If you only have a microwave, don’t think that you cant make good food,” Clements said. “There are thousands of recipes, and the food is all really good.”

Recipe for pineapple upside down cake:

Ten to 15 minutes cooking time

1 box yellow cake mix

One 20-ounce can pineapple slices

¾ cup brown sugar

1 stick butter

Maraschino cherries

Prepare cake according to package directions, substituting pineapple juice for most of the water (one can of pineapple doesn’t give you all the liquid you need.)In a 10-by-10 inch microwave-safe baking dish, melt butter. Add brown sugar and stir until combined. Arrange pineapple slices in the bottom of the dish, and place maraschino cherries in the center of each ring.

Pour prepared cake batter over pineapple slices and brown sugar mixture. Make sure batter only fills up the dish about half way.

Microwave on high for 10 to 13 minutes. Let cool in microwave for 5 minutes, then turn over onto a plate or serving dish.

To make microwaved cupcakes with extra batter:

Spray the inside of a mug with nonstick cooking spray. Pour batter into the mug, about halfway up the side. Cook on high power for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Allow the cupcake to sit and stop rising. When the cupcake has set, flip out onto a plate and enjoy.

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