Semi-Lucid Rice Cooker Apple Cake

So I am sick again. This time it’s with a bronchial bark that frightens the neighbours and a fever that has made the past few days rather interesting, perception-wise.  Mind you, sometimes when living in Shanghai it is difficult to tell whether or not you are delirious and hallucinating or just out for a stroll in your neighbourhood.

So I went for a walk on Shaoxing Lu and these were in my pathway.

Let me give you a closer look at what I may have hallucinated.

So with such a tenuous grip on reality and with my mega-garlic soup busy simmering away in the crock pot, I decided to busy myself with a new challenge this afternoon.

You know those kids who can never be trusted with a chemistry set because they’ll just end up blowing things up, impulsively setting out to see what happens if you add this to that over a massive flame?  That’s me in the kitchen.  I kind of wish that was me in a chemistry lab, as I might have been able to graduate from university with a more practical degree than Mao-To-Now Chinese pop culture studies (seriously- I did a massive term paper once on the History of Rock Music in China, 1985-1989, from Wham! to Cui Jian).

I still had my second round of amazing Hangzhou hotel apples waiting in the fridge (next round coming mid December when I’m sent back there to do more work! Yay!) and had googled apple cake recipes in my barking, fevered state. I decided on a really dignified one from Epicurious, as they tend to be totally reliable and China-friendly (i.e. they don’t casually include ingredients like ‘cake mix’ or ‘tin of frosting’).  It had the right number of apples for my stash (4) and no improbable ingredients besides the dark rum. I figured I’d use my vanilla-steeped gin instead anyway.

So this is their recipe, which is really nice and simple. The 8tbs of butter is 120ml of melted butter, or about 1/2 a cup. I used 2 tablespoons of vanilla-gin instead of the rum, as noted above. I also added a teaspoon of cinnamon because, well, I have a 500g bag of it to spare.

I really liked the fact that so many of the ingredients in the recipe came in 3, 4, or 3/4 measurements. It was kind of hypnotic.

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


Now the thing is, in my fevered state I decided I’d experiment with making this cake in the rice cooker. I was determined to do it. I have no idea why. It seemed like a great idea at the time. Thus, I’m not including the Epicurious instructions here as I didn’t even look at them.

Let me show you what I did with my rice cooker and if it doesn’t please you then you can always refer back to the Epicurious link for the real instructions (which require an oven and a springform pan, whatever that is).

No whiskey in the jar, but there is vanilla gin. Oh, and half a kilo of cinnamon.
This much butter.
I don't recommend peeling apples when you are both left handed and delirious with fever.
That's a sh*tload of apples. Damn.

I should just note here that the above photo needs a small caveat: beat the 2 eggs in the bowl while you slowly melt the butter. When the butter is melted, put it aside to cool down a bit. Don’t mix it with the eggs yet or I have a horrible feeling you might scramble them. Just a hunch. While you’re waiting for the butter to cool, beat some sugar into the eggs, and add your grog. If you happen to have 3 table spoons of dark rum at hand, go for it.

One handed pouring! Whee!

Here, just blend the liquids into the dry mixture until they are integrated and there are no weird little pockets of dustiness. Should take just a minute.

This is what it looks like with the apples mixed in before the sides were wiped down.

One thing to remember is to carefully wipe away any batter stuck to the edges of the pot above the cake as it’ll just overcook and be stuck and stringy and pointless.

I started it out on the full-blast cook setting but it popped up to 'maintenance' mode after 5 minutes.

I’m not really sure exactly how our rice cooker operates. Generally, whenever I push the lever down and go away, by the time it pops up by itself whatever I’m attempting to make is done. Mind you, I’ve only ever made oatmeal and rice and grains in this thing.

Cake was something unexpected. The lever popped up after barely five minutes. What I ended up doing was going out to the kitchen every 15 minutes (about 4 times total, I think) to push it down again then go back to bed to focus on coughing up another lung. I cooked it for about an hour in total.

It tastes a lot better than it looks. Really.

After an hour, I stuck it with a wooden kebab skewer and by gum, it came out clean. The cake was done. The texture was halfway between a Chinese steamed cake and a regular cake with just a hint of British steamed winter pudding. I had a big bowlful when it was still piping hot and it was really good. Not much to look at but quite tasty.  I intend to try other cakes this way in the future- they come out quite moist and tender, in the nicest possible way.

See, it almost looks like a real cake if you squint hard enough.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Be Sociable, Share!


  1. Good one! Happy to see someone successfully make a rice cooker cake – I’d heard rumours, now I know it can be done!

    Hope the lungs are improving. BTW those chairs – what the?

    1. MaryAnne says:

      The chairs… the chairs… I have no freaking idea! They were on Shaoxing lu near Shanxi last Wednesday afternoon. A bit of a mind trip.

  2. I need a rice cooker really badly. The only time rice ever gets posted on my blog, I got the man to make it. Seriously.

    I have now discovered a second reason to buy a rice cooker. I love me some moist puddingy cake!
    Nicola @ unhip squirrel recently posted..pear and fennel seed upside-down cakeMy Profile

    1. MaryAnne says:

      Rice cookers are awesome! No boiling over, no sticking, perfect every time… I have no idea how they do it. And now this! Miraculous!

  3. Marie says:

    I’m glad you did this because your rice cooker looks a bit like mine…only two settings. I really thought you’d need a fancy schmancy one like I had in Japan that walks and talks in order to actually bake in it. I’m adding this to my bookmark called “Emergency cake making techniques” under “when you can’t be a**ed to put the oven on”.
    Marie recently posted..In Defence of Food: Book reviewMy Profile

    1. MaryAnne says:

      I had thought so too so I’m glad my fever-induced impulsiveness drove me to try it.

  4. Sally says:

    I’m surprised that I actually have all the ingredients for that cake except the vanilla and the rice cooker… may actually encourage me to buy a rice cooker. (Seeing as I am too lazy to cook rice on the stove… besides, for some reason, I always forget how to make it. Yep, I can’t remember how to make white rice. Seriously, I’m brain impaired.)
    Oh, and I NEED one of those chairs.
    Sally recently posted..What I’ve Been Doing While I Haven’t Been Here (Because I Know You Were All Dying to Know)My Profile

    1. MaryAnne says:

      I’m sure you can skip the vanilla. Have you any other booze? I just buy the vanilla pods in bulk when I’m away (these ones were from a market in Bali) and steep a few of them at a time in a jar full of whatever booze I happen to have. Brandy and vodka work best but I’ve settled for gin for now.

      Get a rice cooker! Make cake!

      And maybe consider a new hobby making those pompom chairs…

  5. Erica says:

    Great post! Love the chair with all those chicks! Thanks for the recipe, would try it out on the weekend!
    Erica recently posted..Long Winter Dog WalksMy Profile

    1. MaryAnne says:

      Thanks! I covet that chair! Sometimes the creativity in this city surprises me… Enjoy the cake!

  6. Tina says:

    Yeah, it is a little rough looking, but can’t beat the convenience of the rice cooker. Warm apple stuff= yum.
    Please take care of yourself. I know three people this Fall who had pneumonia and didn’t even suspect.

    1. MaryAnne says:

      Oh, that’s a bit worrying- one of my friends here is just getting over pneumonia. I’ve been paying close attention to my lung-issues and I think I’m okay (no weird colours) but will take care!

      And yeah, the cake won’t win any beauty contests (in fact I was a bit horrified when I first opened the rice cooker lid!) but it really tastes good. A lovely texture. Very cozy.

  7. Robin Bird says:

    Hi, I’m enjoying reading your web site. I’ve recently moved to China and actually won a Media rice cooker (this is a little bit of a bigger model – an FD30H – with tons of settings. I cannot read the Chinese labels on the front and am hoping to ask anyone here if they can help me out on this.

    Besides this, I love cooking and would love to try out your recipes. I’m living in Fuzhou.

    Also, I did try to subscribe, but when I pressed the link to confirm my subscription, it would not go through (maybe this is something to do with China?)

    Anyhow, now that I have explained my interests, perhaps you would put me on your subscription list, and if possible, give me any advice that you can about my new rice cooker.

    Thanks heaps,

    – Robin

    1. MaryAnne says:

      Hi Robin! Welcome to China! I’m not sure what’s wrong with the subscribe function– did you use the email one on the main page (right sidebar)? Or the WordPress one at the bottom of the posts? I’ll try to figure it out. It could just be China being weird, esp if you tried to do it via Google reader as Google’s in China’s bad books these days.

      As for the rice cooker, ours is crazy basic (on, off, maintenance) and I use it for rice (mostly brown) and other grains (like oat and barley). I found with mine, however, that I needed a bit more water than rice usually calls for as it evaporates more quickly than rice done on the stove. Go figure. I’ve heard some rice cookers have bread (面包) and cake (could be any of these: 蛋糕, 饼, 糕, 糕点, 糕饼, 粑) settings. That would be pretty exciting!

    2. MaryAnne says:

      Hi again! I just checked the email subscription thing on the home page (the one in the right hand column) and it seems to work. Try that one? Very happy to have you on board.

  8. Harmony says:

    I liked the look of this but mine didn’t work out. Perhaps the apples were too juicy? Or too big. I had to leave one apple out altogether, it was just never going to fit. What I might try next time is par-cooking the apple in the butter before combining it. That way, a lot of the juice will be drawn out of the apple and I can allow for it with the mix – perhaps with a bit more flour.

    1. MaryAnne says:

      That would be a good idea. I tend to play around with proportions as fruits and flours are never quite the same…

Comments are closed.