It's basically fine

Kat Kinsman
Updated: September 13, 2018

If many people like a thing, then it is probably very good. And if a whole lot of things that people like are mashed together into one thing, the result has to be extra good, right? Right?! No.

Sometimes the good things cancel each other out and the aggregate is just resolutely fine, or possibly even terrible. A paleo pumpkin spice cauliflower mug cake is not excellent. I care about you too much to pretend that it is. But it is OK. Semi-pleasant, even, if you're not burdened by the illusion that what you're consuming is cake in the traditional sense. It's hot, fluffy, autumnally-seasoned mush, and there truly are worse things in the world—like accidentally consuming a drink that has been sweetened with stevia, people who corner you at parties to evangelize about CrossFit, and the gradual realization that Morrissey has become (or perhaps always was, but your bone-deep love for The Smiths and some of his solo work clouded your judgment) a terrible person. This "cake" is better than that.

You could make an actually delightful version of it by swapping in steamed sweet potatoes for the cauliflower, and if you are not possessed of a mangled gut, use wheat flour rather than almond flour. Or just bake or purchase a cake like a normal human being who is not living a folie a deux with an Instant Pot.

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Paleo Pumpkin Spice Cauliflower Mug Cake

Makes 1 for you and 1 for Instant Pot


1/2 cup steamed cauliflower (or rounds of peeled sweet potato)
2/3 cup almond flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
Pumpkin spice, homemade (get the recipe) or store-bought
Salt to taste


Pour 1/2 cup water into the Instant Pot. Place raw cauliflower florets and sliced stalks (or sweet potato) in a steamer basket or perforated foil pouch atop a trivet, seal the Instant Pot, steam for 10 minutes, and release manually. I apologize for the cauliflower reek in your kitchen. It will go away soon. Carefully remove the vegetables from the Instant Pot, mash them, and drain any excess liquid. You will use 1/2 cup mash for each cake, so store any excess in a lidded container for future cakes, or just eat it with butter and salt. You are clever and I believe in you.

In a bowl, whisk together mash, flour, maple syrup or honey, egg, and vanilla. Administer pumpkin spice and salt to your own liking. Grease or spray the inside of sturdy mugs that you don't care about very much, and fill about 3/4 of the way with the batter. Cover the mugs with foil and place on a trivet into the Instant Pot. Seal the Instant Pot and pressure cook on low for 8 minutes. Manually release, remove the foil, and allow the cake to cool for a moment. Eat it straight from the mug.

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