It may not seem like that big of a deal, but when you have a more than healthy relationship with baked goods that enjoy the union of sugar and butter, being able to bake is a big thing. Especially when you live in a place without a decent bakery (meaning one that bakes sweets), let alone a cupcake or cookie boutique popping up on every corner. The problem is compounded when butter and sugar cost twice the US price, and oh yes, you don’t have an oven. In desperation, I’ve more than once resorted to some Oreo off-brand creation with an eternal shelf life. But no more. A while ago I discovered that you could cook cookies in a skillet on the stove top. The results are not exactly like a cookie fresh out of the oven; since you have to flip the cookie to get it to cook properly, you end up with two browned sides. But it’s something. And then, and even bigger breakthrough. Steam cake. Have you ever heard of this before? I hadn’t, and I wasn’t sure about it, but the concept seemed worth a try. If you can take some cake-batter-like substance and steam it into submission, why not try something other than a “steam cake” recipe. I chose banana bread from here (minus the burbon, and substituted oil since I was out of butter). Will you believe me if I told you it worked? I don’t think I would have believed it if I hadn’t tried it myself. It was almost like a miracle when I opened that pan and instead of a gooey, drippy mess I found a perfectly firm but moist banana bread.
The process is very simple. Here’s what it looks like:
Here’s the break down.
- Find a pan that is big enough to fit your cake pan inside without the cake pan touching the walls of your bigger pan.
- Put something metal on the bottom of the pan to raise the cake pan up, but also keep it level. Old canning jars would work great for this, but I didn’t have any, so I just used forks.
- Fill your pan with about an inch of water. It should be just below the level of the bottom of your cake pan, but I don’t know if it would hurt the cake if the water actually touched the cake pan.
- Fill your greased cake pan with the batter.
- Place the cake pan inside the bigger pan.
- Tie a dish cloth around the lid of the big pan. Choose one that is big enough to tie, and one that is tightly woven (I think these are less likely to catch fire if the cloth gets hot).
- Put the lid on the big pan. Make sure no part of your towel is hanging where it can catch fire. THIS IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT.
- Turn the heat on to medium.
- Let it cook for the amount of time listed in the recipe. Steaming make go a little quicker or slower, so just check it about 10 minutes before the time just to be sure. Also, keep an eye on the water level. You don’t want your pan to go dry.
- When your cake/bread/brownies are done, remove the lid and take the pan of the heat. Unless you have some special grabber, it will probably be hard to get the cake pan out before it cools, so just leave it there. Leaving the lid off helps dry out the top if a little water collected on the top of your pan.
And there you go.
I have yet to venture into other batter-baking areas, but these brownies have been calling my name, so they are next on the list.
So yeah, if you can’t use your oven for some reason, or you just want to try something a little different, give steam cooking a try.
Have a great Monday (and happy Presidents day to you US readers)!