Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Recipe: Cake without the Bake

Evidently, there's a lot you can do with a rice cooker. In celebration of this wonderful cooking device, I've decided to repost a recipe I wrote for my Chinese language blog. You can also find a bilingual version from my guest post on Chinese Reading Practice. I think it's a good recipe if you find yourself living in Asia without an oven, as some of us do. You can try making a cake with your rice cooker. Be warned—results will vary. Each rice cooker is a little different. But why not satisfy your inner sweet tooth and give it a try? My cake was a bit unsightly, but tasted delicious. . . and isn't that all that matters anyway? As an added bonus, you should be able to find all the ingredients locally if you omit the vanilla.

I went a few years in China without an oven because I thought I wouldn't be here long enough to justify the expense of one. Once we moved back to Chengde, in 2008, I decided to buy a little convection oven for about 400 RMB (about US$70). It's been one of the best purchases I've made, in my whole life. I've learned how to make many different food from scratch. Since it isn't always easy to find everything I need in Chengde, I have gotten pretty creative with substituting ingredients. I am a big fan of taobao (more or less the Chinese version of eBay) as well because I can find pretty much anything and everything I need on there. I have bought cocoa powder, cream cheese and whipping cream online—all with great success.

I will try to post some more recipes in the future, both western and Chinese. Since the baby was born I don't have as much time to piddle around in the kitchen making western food from scratch (my days of rolling my own tortillas and attempting homemade gnocchi are now behind me). I've now turned to fine-tuning my knowledge of cooking Chinese. Ming taught me some basics years ago and I was decent at making several standard dishes, but now I'm venturing out and experimenting a lot more. Cooking Chinese food is a lot of fun and pretty easy once you understand the flavors. Maybe you'd be interested in making some? Stay tuned!

Upside Down Cake (in a rice cooker)

Servings: 8

250 g (1 cup) fruit, such as strawberries, bananas or mangoes
115 g (½ cup) softened butter or 180 ml (3/8 cup) oil*
180 g (¾ cup) white sugar
2 eggs
180 ml (3/8 cup) milk
5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract** optional
125 g (1 cup) flour***
5 g (1 teaspoon) baking soda (小苏打, xiǎo sūdǎ in Chinese)
pinch of salt


  1. Mash fruit in a bowl, using a fork. I used strawberries and mangos, but feel free to experiment!
  2. Grease the bottom of your rice cooker with oil or butter.
  3. Spread fruit in bottom of greased rice cooker.
  4. In a bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. In a second bowl, cream butter (or oil) with sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla extract and milk and mix.
  6. Add dry mixture into wet mixture. Stir until combined.
  7. Pour batter into rice cooker.
  8. Close cooker and press 'cook' button. The cake will probably take about 15 minutes to cook but the 'cook' button will change to 'keep' before that. Just let it stay on 'keep' for a few minutes and then hit 'cook' again. Repeat if needed.
  9. Check cake with toothpick; it should come out clean.
  10. Let cool for 10 minutes. When done, loosen cake from sides of rice cooker with a plastic or wooden spoon (or spatula).
  11. Flip onto plate and serve. Top with more fresh fruit if desired.

*I prefer sunflower and olive blend, but vegetable or canola should work well. I don't recommend peanut as the flavor is quite nutty. Some olive oils also have a very strong flavor.
**You can find vanilla on taobao and in some special supermarkets in China.
***You can use all-purpose, self-rising, or even dumpling flour.


Sarah said...

That is a fantastic idea, I will definitely be trying this soon :)

rosieinbj said...

Hope it turns out! I want to experiment more with my rice cooker but I haven't gotten around to it.