Cakes And Queries

Who invented the cake?

According to food historians, the first culture to show evidence of baking skills and interest were the ancient Egyptians. They were probably fed up with game meat and wanted to try something new. However, they were more bread-like and instead of sugar, they were sweetened in honey. The word cake is of viking origin, from the norse word “kaka”.

Cakes symbolize the importance of the person you bought it for, since in the old days, ingredients like refined sugar, nuts and dried food were expensive. Although they are not as expensive today, the message still holds through. It is a way to show someone you care.

Cakes have their part to play in ancient beliefs and superstitions, some which still carries on to modern times. In olden times, people used cakes as offerings to their gods and spirits around the world. The Chinese celebrate Harvest Moon festival and have moon cakes to honor their moon goddess. This tradition continues up to today. Russians have sun cakes called blini which are thin pancakes to pay their respect to a deity called Maslenitsa. Ancient Celts rolled cakes down a hill during the Beltane festival held on the first day of spring to imitate solar movement. With such a rich history and connection of humans with cake, it is no wonder that they remain such an important part of our lives.

How do I bake a cake without an oven?

There are many recipes on how to make cake or how to make cake at home. But most of them require some good old baking. Well, to be honest, it is known that the cake is a dessert that is, in most times, baked. However, you don’t need to follow the rules! Who knows, maybe you don’t want to turn on the oven during the hot days or maybe you just don’t have an oven. Who said that you can’t have a cake in this case? There are some interesting techniques that will allow you to make a cake without an oven. You can use the pressure cooker, the steamer method, the stove top method.

1. Decide on a good, uncomplicated recipe for your pressure cooker cake. Simple recipes work well in a pressure cooker. Prepare the batter and set aside.

2. Use a pressure cooker that’s at least 3 litres, but 5 litres is a good size and what I would recommend. Your cooking time and cake pan size may need to be adapted accordingly.

3. Remove the gasket (the rubber insulation thing) on the lid of your pressure cooker. This is an important step. You also do NOT need the whistle. You also don’t need to add any water to the pressure cooker, more on that below.

4. Some pressure cookers come with this stand that goes at the bottom of the cooker pan. It distributes heat more evenly and is especially useful when baking cake in a pressure cooker. If you don’t have this same thing, try to find a substitute. Maybe a small, thick steel plate would do the job as well.

It’s better not to have the cake pan touch the bottom of the pressure cooker directly since that may cause the bottom of the cake to cook more rapidly. Another option is to place the pressure cooker on a flat griddle or tawa and cook the cake. It’s just an insulation between the flame and the bottom of the cooker to protect the cake.

5. Another important thing to remember is, do NOT add any water to the pressure cooker pan for baking a cake. If you do, you will be steaming the cake but here we are trying to create an oven-like environment using a pressure cooker as much as possible. The heat generated in the pressure cooker will be enough to cook/bake the cake.

6. Before starting to bake the cake, you need to pre-heat the pressure cooker. For this, just place the lid (without gasket) on the pressure cooker (which should contain no water) and cook on high heat for 2 mins.

7. Now you can put the cake batter in. Make sure to use a cake pan that fits comfortably inside your pressure cooker without the sides touching. Use a pot-holder since the cooker will be hot because of the pre-heating.

After placing the batter in, close the lid and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes and then lower the flame to just a simmer. The cake, depending on the size of your cake pan and pressure cooker, will take anywhere between 45 minutes to 1 hour to bake.

Points to note:

  1. A pressure cooker is not meant for baking or using in the manner described above so consider that before using it to make a cake.
  2. This process may compromise the quality of the safety valve on the lid and the high heat may cause the handle and other parts to deteriorate a bit.
  3. Using your pressure cooker to bake once or twice a year is probably okay but not regularly. If you bake anything more than once a month, I recommend buying an oven. It will be worth it and your options are much wider than using a pressure cooker to bake.
  4. Always check manufacturers instructions to make sure your make and model of pressure cooker can handle this. It’s probably best not to do this in a non-stick pressure cooker since dry-heating a non-stick surface without water or oil is not advised.