Mug Cake. Pan Cake. Pancake. Is There A Difference?

This week a friend posted that they were making a Microwave Mug Cake, but another friend commented that they didn’t have a microwave, and asked if there was any way to make these in a pan instead. So I said I’d do a little experiment for her and see if would work.

And so the ‘Pan Cake’ idea was born. Say with me… Pan Cake. Not pancake (all one word) but Pan Cake. Cake in a pan, different you see…

Or is it?

When you look at the recipe below you might think, umm, that’s a pancake recipe. And you’d actually be right. It could be used as the mixture to add to a large frying pan and make lovely light & fluffy pancakes. And delicious they would be too. But I wanted to make Pan Cake. Cake in a pan.

What I realised when I was thinking over this little challenge was that in fact most ‘microwave mug cake’ recipes do indeed have very similar ingredients to a healthy pancake recipe. There always seems to be an egg involved, some sort of floury stuff, a little oil and often in many of the recipe I find myself drawn towards, some protein powder (for us health & fitness nuts!).

So would the microwave mug cake recipe indeed work when cooked in a pan? I thought I better make two lots of identical mixture, then try it both ways.

Here are the ingredients and the pictures of both the Pan Cake and the Microwave Mug Cake, as you can see they turned out to be quite different. I’ll see you below for the taste test, comparison and conclusion.


  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla protein powder (I used Myofusion brand)
  • 2 tbsp. almond flour (ground almonds)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • About 15 blueberries

Directions for Mug Cake:

  • Melt the coconut oil in a very large mug then add all other ingredients to the mug apart from the blueberries, beating well with a fork until the mixture is fairly smooth.
  • Stir in the blueberries
  • Place in microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds on full power.
  • Leave to sit for a minute then turn out into a bowl, using a knife round the edges of the mug to release the cake, if necessary.

Directions for Pan Cake:

  • Melt the coconut oil in a bowl then add all other ingredients to the bowl apart from the blueberries, mixing well with a fork until the mixture is fairly smooth.
  • Stir in the blueberries
  • Pour the mixture into tiny non-stick frying pan (use a little coconut oil to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick), mine is 4″ across (how cute?!) and place on a medium heat on the hob.
  • Cook for around 5 minutes or until you can safely flip the pan cake over without it spilling out or splitting, i.e. it must be fairly ‘set’ before you do this.
  • Once flipped, cook on the other side for another 3-5 minutes, until the pan cake is set all the way through to the middle. (Test with a knife in the centre, if it comes out clean it is done)

Here are the pictures of the Mug Cake…

Mixing it all up…

Blueberry Mug Cake

After cooking…Blueberry Mug CakeAnd the final product with its sponge-like texture

Blueberry Mug Cake

And here are the pictures of the Pan Cake…

Cooking along nicely in the miniature pan…

Blueberry Pan CakeAfter flipping…

Blueberry Pan Cake

And the final Pan Cake, served with a dollop of Greek yogurt and some additional fresh blueberries… As you can just about see, the Pan Cake could’ve done with an extra minute or two on the heat, as it was still a tiny bit runny in the very centre. If you’re pregnant be careful to always cook eggs through thoroughly.
Blueberry Pan Cake

So how did they differ? Well for a start I have to say that the Mug Cake wins hands-down in terms of texture, being light & fluffy, sponge cake like. The Pan Cake didn’t rise as much as the Mug Cake did, and due to both the lack of rise and the extended cooking time, was more firm than the Mug Cake. In fact I would say the Pan Cake is not very much like cake at all really, funnily enough it is more like a (wait for it!) Pancake!

To be fair, both the Mug Cake and the Pan Cake (ok, let’s call a spade a spade, it’s actually a thick pancake isn’t it!) both tasted absolutely delicious, one just being more firm that the other. But if you don’t have a microwave and want Cake in a Pan, then maybe you COULD settle for a Pancake.

Conclusion: Mug Cake 9/10 due to lovely fluffy texture and being quick & easy to make, Pan Cake 7/10 due to extended cooking time and less cake-like tendencies, especially if you’re in the mood for ‘cake’!

It’s been really interesting looking at the differences between cake and pancake ingredients and thinking about it, I’d bet that you could take most standard cake recipes, cook them in a large frying pan as pancakes and have success 9 times out of 10. But that’s an experiment for another day…

So what’s for breakfast? Pancake anyone?

In fun & health,




  1. Janice this is a great experiment! Yay to you for giving it a go and sharing it with all of us curious readers.
    I wonder what might have happened with that little pan cake if you’d put it in the oven? Would it have turned out more like cake then?
    I don’t have a microwave either, so this was a terrific post for me. Sadly, still feel left out and want a microwave so I can have cake in a mug too! lol

    1. Yeah Shan, that was the last little part of the experiment that I didn’t get round to, but I do believe it would make a fantastic cake in the oven. It has to, it’s a cake recipe after all!!

  2. You are my new favourite person Janice!!! I have trawled through heaps of these recipes and there is either too much egg, or they say to put a sweetener in, or too many other ingredients – this looks perfect and is exactly what I was looking for! Can’t wait for brekkie – I can see my boys trying to trade their porridge with me tomorrow!!

    1. Well thank you! I’m glad you found something on my blog that fit your needs exactly! I hope the pancakes turned out as you hoped and the boys liked them too 🙂
      I don’t know if you saw the last post on this blog, but I have moved! You can now find me (including all posts from this version of the blog) at
      Please join me there (there’s a free eBook of recipes when you sign up for my newsletter on there too!).
      Janice x

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