According to Wikipedia, rice is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world’s human population, especially in Asia. For this, I cannot argue with the fact that the rice cooker is one of the most, if not, THE most indispensable kitchen equipments in Asia.
During my student days, the rice cooker was enshrined and revered as the be-all and end-all of all inventions. Being Asian, eating and self-taught cooking were the norm and being a student, money was scarce 😦
No Frills but Thrills
One of my housemates, who happened to be my roommate, had her internship in one of the law firms in Malaysia. With her well-deserved and decent student paycheck, she invested in a 10-cup rice cooker, the biggest pot she could find. My roommate is known for her generosity and by the way, that is the wittiest thing any student would and should do. The rice cooker became part and parcel of our daily bread. With our frugal students’ budget, we were never left hungry by eating smart 😉
My roommate’s rice cooker had only 2 functions, Cook and Keep Warm – nothing fancy. Although the rice cooker is “supposed” to function as a rice cooker, id est cooking or steaming rice, but lo and behold, we conjured wonders from the gadget. We have cooked many tasty meals of chicken curry, laksa, chicken rice, stir-fried water spinach, long beans, green beans, noodles and soups. A typical weekend meal would consist of steamed rice, one type of vegetable and a soup dish with meat or shellfish. The cooking was done in stages and always planned ahead. First the rice (20 mins cooking time), then the veg (10 mins cooking time) and finally the soup dish (20 to 30 minutes). Of course the easiest and fastest meal on busy weekdays was the all-in-one dish: noodles with vegetables, meat or seafood soup. Our favourite was the Tom Yum Kai-Kung noodle soup (Spicy fragrant Thai chicken-prawn noodle soup) all-in-one. No frills but only thrills in our palates. Those were the days!
Just One of the Gadgets …
Today, my rice cooker is just one of the many electric kitchen appliances in my house. I have a Soup Maker that makes a million and one types of quick and tasty soups in less than 25 minutes. There is a recipe book that came with the Soup Maker, but I never follow any of the recipes. I just create my own depending on what I have in my fridge.
Here are some of the examples of soups that I have contrived using my Soup Maker, currently one of my most utile kitchen gadgets – a blessing during cold winter period or any fleeting moments of hunger pangs 🙂
I could probably make these soups in my rice cooker, but it never occurred to me anymore, because I’m no longer a student *wink*
Insanely mind-boggling challenge!
And then, I received an email from Miss B. She has invited me to participate in one of the most difficult challenges yet – baking or cooking or steaming, whatever-you-call-it cake in a rice cooker!
The rice cooker may be multi-faceted and from my testimony of using the appliance (during my student days), never in my mind’s eye would I “bake” a cake in that gadget. That’s completely insane!
But then again, I LOVE a challenge anytime 😉
In fact, I was plain curious …
You know, life is too short. If you haven’t tried out things you want to try out, you will never get to know the end result, right?
If you hop over to Miss B’s blog here, you will know why I took up her insanely mind-boggling challenge. If it worked and still works for her, why would there be any difference for me?
By the way, I’m the living proof of Miss B’s RCC creation. What I am trying to point out here is that last May, I invited Miss B and her family to our house for a simple housewarming buffet lunch, since we just moved house recently. She came to my house and brought not one, but two cakes! One of which was the rice cooker banana cake. Unfortunately I did not have a snapshot to proof, because the cakes were all gone in the blink of an eye.
It was really good – moist and buttery with the sweet taste of banana, ie, how a good cake should be. You would not have thought it was “baked” in a rice cooker!
19 years old and (still) looking great!
I have a very trusty National 8-cup rice cooker, which I had it shipped from Malaysia to Belgium in the autumn of 1995, however, I have steamed only rice in there. Chicken rice, nasi kunyit (turmeric rice), nasi lemak (coconut rice), Biryani, Pilau, pandan rice, chicken porridge and just simply, white steamed rice.
No soups, because I have a Soup Maker, remember?
No stir-fried vegetables or chicken curry or laksa or noodle dishes, because I have enough pots, pans, slow cooker, steamer and what have you in the kitchen 😉
A rice cooker cake? Not in a million years. Anyway, I have an oven and a steamer.
However, a challenge is a challenge, and the BIG question is, can my 19-year old rice cooker transcend the test?
Let’s check it out!
Cooking – Keep Warm
My 8-cupper has very basic functions. A “Cooking” function and a “Keep Warm” function with either a choice of cooking Rice or Porridge. There is no timer. No beeping sound when the Cooking button is shifted automatically to Keep Warm. I kind of know as well from experience that my rice will cook perfectly in 20 minutes or when the smell of cooked rice started whiffing and breezing in my kitchen. Mmmmm…. Heaven!
Being a complete novice to “baking” rice cooker cakes, I referred to one of Miss B’s tried and tested RCC. That’s right; it was her rice cooker banana cake! I adapted her recipe with some modifications. On her blog, Miss B indicated that the cake turned out too sweet and that she would reduce the amount of sugar the next time she were to bake the cake again. I do not like very sweet cakes; hence, I actually did NOT use sugar. Yep, I “baked” a sugar-less RCC banana cake!
Below are the ingredients adapted from Miss B’s RCC#4 with my adjustments in blue font.
Ingredients –3 eggs 110g sugar (I did NOT use sugar but used about 15 dates –seeds removed and diced finely) 110g melted butter (110g butter, melted) 200g banana (I used 2 large ripe bananas, fork-mashed) 160g plain flour (I used 1 1/3 cups self-rising flour) ¾ tsp baking powder (I used 1/2 tsp as I was using self-raising flour) ¾ tsp baking soda 1 tsp cinnamon powder => this was not on Miss B’s recipe (Note: this is a personal choice as I love the cinnamon flavour in banana cakes) A pinch of salt
- Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- Melt the butter. Set aside to cool.
- Chop 15-20 dates and mash the bananas with a fork. Set aside
- Whisk the eggs until fluffy. Add the cool melted butter, mashed bananas and chopped dates. Mix to combine with a wooden spoon or spatula
- Add the sifted flour mixture. Fold to amalgamate the cake batter
- Pour the cake batter into the greased rice cooker pot
- Press the cook function of your rice cooker. In my case, the “Cooking” button.
I noted the time I first pressed the Cooking function. It was 8.10pm.
If I’m cooking rice, it would take about 20 minutes and the Cooking button will shift automatically to Keep Warm when the rice is cooked perfectly, but lo and behold, just after 5 minutes, my rice cooker button moved automatically to “Keep Warm”
Huh? Only 5 minutes?
I dared not open my rice cooker otherwise I’d end up with a collapsed cake. Furthermore, there was no baked cake smell floating in my kitchen. I pressed the Cook function again, but it did not allow me to cook. I had to wait for another 5 minutes before I could change from Keep Warm to Cooking.
But again, after 5 minutes, the button switched to Keep Warm.
All right it’s going to take the whole night. Miss B’s much-talk-about banana cake took one hour in her Toshiba 5.5-cup rice cooker with only 3 presses of the button, and here I am, manually pressing my rice cooker button to Cook function after every 5 minutes? No way, Jose! I did not plan to stay all night in my kitchen being a mechanical part of the rice cooker. So what I did was taking a cardboard and forcefully pressed down the button to Cook.
After 15 minutes (around 8.25pm) I smelled the beautiful banana cake smell emitting from my rice cooker. I did open the rice cooker to peep, but the batter was not quite set. I closed the lid and continued with the “forced-to-cook” operation.
Anyway, who would have thought that a cake would be cooked in 15 minutes?
Another 15 minutes passed by and I smelt something else. Nothing closed to a baked cake smell at all…. but….. Oh NO!!!
I immediately aborted the entire operation by removing the cardboard from its position, and the button shifted automatically to Keep Warm. Whether there was going to be a cake or not, it did not matter anymore *sob*
It was exactly 8.40pm when I opened the lid. The top side looked really good, but with the burnt smell (yes, B*U*R*N*T!); I could already deduce that the cake had a charred bottom. I was right!
It was soot black!
After all the effort, did I throw the cake away? Well, if you must know, I did thrash one cake in the past, if you have read my post Baking is not really my cup of tea or is it? A supposed swiss roll cake that wouldn’t roll – it was leather hard 😦
The Dark Side and a New Hope …
I managed to salvage the good half while removing the burnt side. The good side actually tasted as gorgeous as it looked. The cake had a good height with the right texture but a bit dry because it was “over-baked” (?), and damn… the dark side!
The Dark Side had a smoky, almost barbecue-flavour that I was not at all used to. The New Hope side had the familiar banana-ey flavour with just the right level of sweetness.
Will I take this challenge again? Is there hope for a success? If this piece of cake had a pair eyes, I bet it would be gazing at me doe-eyed.
I apologize for the blurry snapshots as all pictures were taken at night in my dimly-lit kitchen *grin*
Oh by the way, I baked another RCC. Was it a success?
Erm… my lips are sealed, but do stay tuned for my next episode of another crazy adventure in the world of RCC, a ‘fever’ that was passed on to me by Miss B. Ah-choo!! 😀
Well, as Sir Winston Churchill once said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts” 😉
I am submitting this post to the Rice Cooker Cake Challenge #1 – Are You Game for It? hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders
Have a fantastic week!