While I've never microwaved my tobacco I have let it sit out on a paper towel for a time, or under a lamp for 10-15 minutes. Cake serves mainly to protect the briar from burnout, I don't know how much it really benefits a dry smoke by its existence.
Some tobacco is ready to go, in my experience Prince Albert is ready to go right away. Aromatics are almost always goopy. All depends on the blend.
The gurgle can come from a number of issues, where the draft hole is drilled, shape of the pipe has a lot to do with it to. Full bent pipes seem to do it more since they have a good place for steam to collect. Keep in mind if you breathe back through the stem it adds moisture too.
You may never get the bowl to burn evenly around the whole diameter, but I'd attribute more to packing than just moisture content. Also, relights are a good thing!! And one huge key is to tamp while you smoke. Gentle tamping during the smoke helps it burn more evenly.
Oh, this Twinkie thing, it ain't over yet. -Tallahassee