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If you’ve never baked a cake in your steam oven, this simple Steam Oven Chocolate Cake is where I’d recommend you start.
Today’s chocolate cake recipe began as a vehicle for frosting to use up some of leftover burnt caramel sauce from this burnt caramel monkey bread. I thought a deeply flavored chocolate caramel frosting would be perfect on a classic chocolate cake. Turns out I was right, but it’s not why we’re here.
I’ve never been that happy with the way my go-to chocolate cake baked in my steam oven, and somehow my quick and easy baking intentions degenerated into a quest to update my recipe so it suited combi steam. The old recipe was fine and the texture of the cake was lovely and tender with added steam, but it didn’t rise evenly and sometimes ended up with enormous air pockets baked into the batter. Not so pretty.
Along the way I ended up tossing the caramel frosting in favor of something simpler, so now, here we are, finally, at what I’d like to call a simple steam oven chocolate cake with a simple frosting. The way is littered with chocolate cake cast-offs deemed unworthy of further development but my husband’s work colleagues must either be thrilled with their bounty of ok-but-not-perfect cakes, or never want to see a chocolate cake again. Ha.
What happens when you bake cakes using combi steam
In the many years I’ve been cooking and developing recipes, I’ve learned a few things about steam oven cakes and baking.
The first is that you can adapt almost any ‘regular’ cake recipe to be cooked in your steam or combi steam oven, but you probably shouldn’t. I mean, mostly they’ll come out ok, but as you may have heard before, baking is a science. It involves chemical reactions between various ingredients plus (usually) leavening/raising agents and heat.
If you’re trying to cook a recipe in your steam oven which you’ve made for years in a standard convection oven (exactly where I was at before this crazy caper kicked off), it will likely bake up with an entirely different texture than you’re used to.
The biggest reason for this: steam is in itself a leavening agent, and it impacts the way your cakes and other baked goods rise in the oven. Sometimes that impact is good, but if you don’t understand exactly what’s going on with your ingredients you might be in for a not so happy surprise! Hello peaked, over-risen cake with enormous cracked canyons running across the top, or something which is so dense and pudding-like it almost isn’t a cake at all.
Looking for other steam oven cake recipes? Try these:
Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Four Ingredient Chocolate Truffle Cake
Lemon Ricotta Cake
Baking powder and baking soda as leavening agents
Want a brief lesson in leavening agents, baking and steam ovens? Read on! Or if you’re only here for the cake, just continue on down the page to the recipe (I won’t be offended, promise).
So here it is – most cake recipes employ one or a combination of baking powder, baking soda, air, steam and yeast to make them rise during baking. We’ll leave yeast-risen cakes out of this particular discussion, but there’s a more in depth summation of how that works here if you’re interested.
Baking soda and baking powder look pretty similar, and their purpose in baked goods is similar: to provide leavening via the release of carbon dioxide. That does NOT mean they’re directly interchangeable, though, because they work in different ways.
Baking soda, also sold as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate soda, is a base which needs an acid to react with in order to provide the tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide which make your baked goods rise. Think lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, sour cream, honey, cocoa or lots of others!
Baking powder is a ready-mixed acid and base combination which, when it gets wet, reacts to form carbon dioxide. You can use it in baked goods where you don’t want to add anything else acidic to the mix.
If a recipe calls for baking soda but you don’t have any, you can use baking powder instead (though you’ll have to use roughly double the stated quantity).
You can’t replace baking powder with baking soda, though, unless you add something acidic as well. Cream of tartar will work if need be – I substitute ¼ tsp baking soda and ½ tsp cream of tartar for every 1 tsp baking powder. It’s not a perfect swap and probably won’t rise as much as the baking powder would have, but it will do in a pinch.
I don’t suggest using more of the baking soda and cream of tartar mix to get more rising as too much baking soda can leave your baked goods with a bitter, fizzy aftertaste.
Air as a leavening agent
This one is pretty simple. If you can get air into your batter or dough, it provides lift to your baked goods.
Generally this is in the form of beating butter or egg whites to incorporate air bubbles, then carefully mixing in the remaining ingredients in order not to knock out too much air before baking. Using air as a leavening agent is very often (but not always) done in conjunction with baking powder or baking soda.
Steam as a leavening agent
This is where things get interesting, fantastic and sometimes frustrating when you’re baking in a steam oven.
Steam acts as a leavening agent in all baked goods to some degree, because the water content in your food will turn into steam when it gets hot enough, causing the molecules to spread out and the food to expand.
The extra moisture in the oven cavity when you use a steam oven means the water in your food doesn’t evaporate as quickly – that’s great for retaining moisture and tenderness but can create chaos with baked goods in particular.
Can we bake a cake now?!
Almost! I’m trying to bring things neatly back to steam oven chocolate cake.
The go-to recipe I’ve made for about the past fifteen years is quite dense (in a good way), with an almost-mud-cake texture when made in a conventional oven. In the steam oven it was giving me all sorts of trouble.
My recipe uses baking powder as a leavening agent, but the combination of the baking powder and steam was causing the cake to rise so quickly and so much that it kept ending up with huge cracks and peaks on top. Worse, in large round cake or loaf cake form it baked up with a huge hole through the middle, which is pretty unattractive when cut. The giant holes didn’t happen when I made it in cupcake form but I was still getting those cracks. It really bothered me despite the fact the texture and taste were really great.
After much experimentation I have settled on a couple of things.
The first thing I’ve done is adapt my recipe to one using baking soda. The lift it gives to the cake in the steam oven is lovely but not so extreme that it causes the aforementioned cracking and holes.
But the biggest change? Layers, people. Before I began using a steam oven for a lot of my cooking, I baked most cake recipes as one single large cake (and I have baked A LOT of cakes in my lifetime). If I wanted them to become layer cakes I just split them after baking (plus it didn’t require multiple tins to be greased and lined).
Now? I am more than happy to grease and line an extra tin, because using my steam oven I can get the cooking time to less than half of any previous efforts, and the texture is SO GOOD. Lighter than a mud cake but heavier than a sponge, with a soft, moist crumb and keeping qualities which extend for days.
Incidentally, if you want to see the difference between baking as one single cake or as two separate layers, have a look here. The one with the peaks and valleys is today’s recipe baked in a single tin for 55 minutes, and the other two are exactly the same recipe split in half and baked in the same tin for 22 minutes apiece.
What you can’t see in that photo is the difference in the crumb – the split batch is even, soft and springy while the one-tin batch is heavy and dense under a thick and uneven crust (it’s not a bad cake even then, but side by side the split batch is the outright winner for both looks and eating).
The final result, after all the experiments, is the recipe below – Simple Steam Oven Chocolate Cake.
It uses two bowls and a whisk. No melting, no beating, and, if you’re lazy like me, not even any sifting. I’d call that a pretty great recipe and it’ll be my new go-to cake for baking in the steam oven at our house. I hope you like it.
4.39 from 18 votes
Simple Steam Oven Chocolate Cake
This steam oven chocolate cake uses two bowls and a whisk. No melting, no beating, and, if you’re lazy like me, not even any sifting. The key is baking the cake in layers for a fast, even cook which results in a soft, springy and even texture.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time22 mins
Total Time52 mins
Keyword: chocolate cake, sour cream chocolate frosting, steam oven, steam oven cake recipe, steam oven chocolate cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour plain flour
- 1 cup superfine/caster sugar (white or raw, doesn’t really matter)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar firmly packed
- 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
- 2 tsp baking soda sodium bicarbonate
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 eggs large/59g size
- 1 cup vegetable oil sunflower, almond or rice bran oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup water
For Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting
- 14 oz dark chocolate
- 10 oz full-fat sour cream at room temperature
US Customary – Metric
Grease and line the bases of two 9 inch/22cm cake tins (or one if that’s all you have – you can turn out the first cake, pour the batter in for the second and bake in two batches. The second cake won’t rise quite as much because the batter sits around, but the difference is negligible). I have these great cake tin liners which I love and try to always keep around.
Preheat your oven to 320⁰F/160⁰C, combination steam setting. If your oven has variable steam settings, use 60% (if not, don't worry! Just set to combi steam at the correct temperature and the oven will work out the steam level for you).
Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and give them a whisk to combine. I don’t sift but if your baking soda in particular is lumpy, give it a quick sieve so you don’t end up with fizzy lumps in your cake.
Put all the wet ingredients except the water into another bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until it’s just smooth. Add the water and mix gently to incorporate.
Divide the batter between your two tins and bake them for about 22 minutes, or until they’re springy and test clean with a skewer. Leave to cool in tins for 5-10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.
Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting
Melt dark chocolate, then stir in room temperature full fat sour cream until it’s incorporated and you have a smooth, shiny mixture. You can use this straightaway as a pouring consistency frosting (if you only want a thin coating), or wait for it to cool and thicken slightly before spreading over the cooled cakes.
This makes one 22cm/9” cake with two layers. If you’d like to make it in a smaller tin I’d suggest splitting the batter in thirds and adjusting the cooking time down a few minutes, because the deeper the batter, the higher the risk of the dreaded cracked top and too-dense texture.
You’ll see there is no chocolate in the cake, only cocoa. Use the very best you can afford – my absolute favourite is the Barry Cacao Extra Brute. Yes, it comes in a big bag, and yes, I buy it in that quantity. It keeps for ages in a cool, dark place and I find I get through a bag or two a year. You’ll taste the quality of the cocoa in the finished cake and I always figure there’s no point wasting your time in the kitchen for inferior baked goods.
I’ve called for milk + lemon juice in this recipe because it’s what I most often have available, but if you have buttermilk hanging around in your fridge, use that instead as your acidic component.
Don’t be tempted to use ‘light’ sour cream, the water content means your frosting might seize.
The frosted cake will keep, covered, for about 4 days.
Serving: 1slice | Calories: 643kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 357mg | Potassium: 433mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 240IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 6mg
It helps your cake stay moist
A steam oven helps you achieve this using a hot pressurised system that helps your cake cook evenly while retaining its moisture and flavour. This also means you can reduce the amount of butter and oil used in the cooking process, for a tasty cake without all the fat.
Steamed cakes will have a more pure flavor of the ingredients that make up the cake. Baked cakes will have a more rounded flavor, and this is because of the browned edges. 2 The cake will be soft and moist but dries out faster, too. The advantage of steaming is that it's quite fast.Why is my steamed cake not fluffy? ›
If it is stirred quickly in the same direction, the batter will easily become gluten, causing the cake to collapse or not be fluffy. Therefore, when mixing the batter, you should mix with the folding method, so as to reduce the probability of defoaming and avoid the batter from becoming gluten.Does steam help cakes rise? ›
The biggest reason for this: steam is in itself a leavening agent, and it impacts the way your cakes and other baked goods rise in the oven.What Cannot be cooked in a steam oven? ›
A steam oven cannot brown items, and this may be one drawback for people considering the purchase of one. Most meat needs to be grilled or browned prior to cooking in the oven, or the result is a rather pallid-appearing meat, much like meat cooked in the microwave.How do you steam a perfect cake? ›
All you need to do is fill up the bottom of the pan with water and bring that water to boiling point. Put your cake mix in your cake tin, then add the cake tin to the pot so it rests in the boiling water. Cover the pot and let the steam do all the work.Why do people steam cakes? ›
For those who don't know, steamers are used to remove cornflour and fingerprints from your sugarpaste covered cakes and cupcakes to give them a perfect, glossy finish. Smoothing out these minor imperfections will give your cakes a more polished and professional look – a must for any aspiring professional!Does steaming take longer than baking? ›
Steamer vs. Oven
Steamers are ideal for cooking large batches of food quickly without over cooking or drying the food. Steam cooks at 212 degrees while an oven cooks at higher temperatures however a steamer will cook faster because steam transfers heat 100 times more efficiently than air.
Don't have enough air bubbles, and the structure is weak. Batter deflates during mixing. Not enough eggs/whites/yolks. Not enough non-fat liquids, so not enough steam to help the cake rise.What is the secret to light fluffy cakes? ›
Creaming is the magical step that creates a light and airy homemade cake. It describes the process of incorporating air into your batter, which (in conjunction with baking soda or baking powder) helps the cake leaven and rise. Your recipe probably starts by beating the room temperature butter and sugar together.
When cooking meats such as lamb or pork, steaming removes the fat from the meat so it can be easily discarded whereas conventional cooking methods such as grilling, baking or frying, cook the fat into the meat. Getting rid of the fat makes the meat lower in calories and lower in cholesterol.What makes a cake rise higher? ›
Add a leavening agent to the flour. Most cakes will call for a leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda. These create the bubbles you need for the cake to rise. If the flour you use is self-raising, it already has a leavening agent in it.Can you put foil in a steam oven? ›
The oven trays supplied with the Convection Steam Oven can be covered in aluminum foil. Any baking mode can be used. Never place foil or foil pans on the floor of the oven, or allow foil to touch the back wall of the oven as it will cause permanent damage.Is it worth having a steam oven? ›
Steam ovens keep more nutrients in your food, keep its color better, and eliminate the need for oil. Steaming also prevents cross-flavoring, so you can cook a salmon and chocolate torte at the same time without getting a fishy dessert. A combi-steam oven may be your favorite appliance at holiday time and year round.Can you put parchment paper in steam oven? ›
Recipes calling for a higher temperature should be prepared in a conventional oven. Plastic wrap and parchment paper can be used in the CSO.Can steam damage your oven? ›
Any steam penetration could have an adverse affect on the live circuit boards or controls causing them to malfunction e.g. a partial or full short circuit. The enamel coating and other parts of the oven itself etc. could be more liable to corrosion.Is steam cook healthy? ›
Steaming is a healthy method of cooking because it adds no fat or calories. Steaming food in the microwave is easy. Using a microwave safe dish, put a little water in the bottom with the food and heat until the food is cooked through.What is the trick to a moist cake? ›
- Use Buttermilk Instead of Milk. Whenever I look at a cake recipe, I know that it will be moister if it contains buttermilk as an ingredient. ...
- Add Vegetable Oil. ...
- Use Instant Clearjel or Instant Pudding Mix. ...
- Use the Right Recipe. ...
- Don't Overbake. ...
- Bake in Sheet Pans Instead of individual Cake Pans. ...
- Use a Simple Syrup or Glaze.
When you're ready to bake the loaves, slide them in and immediately pour a cup of very hot water into the pan. Be careful because steam will billow up and can burn you. Close the door immediately to trap in the steam and leave the oven undisturbed for at least five minutes.How do I make my homemade cake moist? ›
For example, replace water for whole milk, milk for heavy or whipped cream, granulated sugar for brown sugar, or use real butter instead of margarine to achieve the perfect texture of the cake. Sweeteners like honey, corn syrup, and molasses help retain moisture inside the cakes, so they stay fresh longer.
Place a steamer into a large pot on the stove and fill with water until it ALMOST reaches the base of the steamer. Bring the water to a steady simmer and carefully place in the cake. Turn off the heat and leave the cake in the pot with the lid on for 10 minutes or so until the cake has softened and is as good as new.Can you steam a buttercream cake? ›
Yup, STEAM it! You don't want to steam it so much it starts melting, but just enough to bring some shine to the cake. I only recommend steaming fondant cakes or fondant decorations, not buttercream. It doesn't really make a difference for buttercream cakes.Why do people put a coin in a cake? ›
Vasilopita (Greek: Βασιλόπιτα, Vasilópita, lit. '(St.) Basil-pie' or 'Vassilis pie', see below) is a New Year's Day bread or cake in Greece and many other areas in eastern Europe and the Balkans which contains a hidden coin or trinket which gives good luck to the receiver, like the Western European King Cake.What are the disadvantages of steaming? ›
- It takes longer time than boiling.
- It consume more cooking energy.
- It tends to lack flavour.
Tips to maintain a steam
That keeps the steam inside the pot so it can cook your food, as well as maintains the water level at the bottom. Once you arrive at the boiling point, you can turn the heat level down a bit but not too much that you've stopped creating steam.
When should I steam? We typically suggest steaming once or twice a day for 10-15 minutes. It is best to do it at times when you are most aware of your symptoms e.g. dry throat or have been in a dry environment/used your voice more heavily. boils can scald so give it a minute or so before using the water.Why do steam cakes shrink? ›
He writes that cakes collapse as they cool because steam condenses in the cake bubbles. The cake bubbles shrink because air can't get into those cake bubbles to replace the volume lost.Can I bake cake at 180 degrees? ›
The majority of cakes are baked in a regular oven at 180c (350F/Gas Mk 4), on the centre shelf of the oven.At what temperature should a cake be baked? ›
Cakes typically bake between 325 and 450 degrees F. Most convection ovens require the fan to be turned off as well as reducing the temperature by 25 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.Should you beat eggs before adding to cake mix? ›
Whisk first: To absolutely ensure my eggs incorporate slowly, I whisk all my eggs together and then slowly drizzle it into the running mixer. I've found this very gradual approach really helps to create a nice emulsion. You'll find the mixture will be thick, creamy and not curdled.
"Adding an additional egg creates a richer, fluffier cake," says Waterson. Tack on an additional egg than what's called for on the box while mixing, and mix as normal. Egg whites: Egg yolks contain more fat than egg whites. For a light, airy cake, swap out whole eggs for egg whites.How long do you beat butter and sugar until fluffy? ›
Place softened butter and sugar into large mixing bowl. Mix, using hand mixer or stand mixer on medium speed 1-2 minutes, or until butter mixture is pale yellow, light and fluffy.What are the 2 advantages of cooking with steam? ›
- Lowers Cholesterol and Makes a Healthier Lifestyle. Like we mentioned, steam cooking is an extremely healthy way to eat. ...
- Brings Out Flavor and Color. ...
- Not Easy to Overcook. ...
- Shares the Space Well. ...
No, you should not use steam on your face every single day. Although the benefits of steaming face are far too many, steaming everyday can prove to be slightly harsh as the pores will not have enough time to close. Therefore, limit the process to 10 minutes once a week for best results.Is steam oven healthier than microwave? ›
In general, food cooked in steam ovens tends to be healthier than food cooked in microwaves. This is because a steam oven preserves the nutrients in food, reducing the risk of overcooking.Does milk help a cake rise? ›
Milk (and other liquids) actually activates other ingredients in the cake batter like leaveners (baking soda, baking powder). And just the same as any other liquid in a cake recipe, it helps everything mix together well and provides steam to help the cake rise.How do you bake a cake so it rises evenly? ›
Most cake recipes call for setting the oven at 350°F. Instead, drop the temperature to 325°F. Lowering the oven temperature slows the rise in the leavening agent, so instead of the dreaded dome, you'll get cake with a beautiful flat top. Do keep in mind that the lower temperature will require a longer bake time.Do eggs cause a cake to rise? ›
Beaten egg whites can be gently incorporated into a batter or soft dough to make it rise; while egg yolks can add richness, color, and flavor.Is a steam oven good for pastry? ›
Pastry in combi steam
Recipes involving puff pastry do surprisingly well in combi steam. In fact, puff pastry was one of the first things I cooked in a steam oven, and it's still a go-to when I want to show people what these ovens are capable of.
Steaming Your Oven When Using a Baking Stone
A small cast iron pan is a good choice. It retains heat and the water that is poured into it turns quickly into steam. We carefully toss about ½ cup of boiling water into the heated pan right before sliding bread onto the baking stone.
If you're planning to renovate your kitchen or replace an existing oven, a steam oven is an easy upgrade. It fits into the same niche as a traditional wall oven while giving you many more cooking possibilities, and stacks easily with other 24-inch-wide appliances like a second oven or built-in coffee maker.Can you bake in a steam convection oven? ›
Steam provides better moisture retention, so your food is juicier. Overcooked or dried out food (such as with a microwave oven) is no longer a concern. You can bake or crisp food in true convection style or steam-bake when needed. Steam helps preserve flavor and doesn't ruin food texture when reheating.Are steam ovens worth having? ›
Steam ovens keep more nutrients in your food, keep its color better, and eliminate the need for oil. Steaming also prevents cross-flavoring, so you can cook a salmon and chocolate torte at the same time without getting a fishy dessert. A combi-steam oven may be your favorite appliance at holiday time and year round.Can you put aluminum foil in steam oven? ›
The oven trays supplied with the Convection Steam Oven can be covered in aluminum foil. Any baking mode can be used. Never place foil or foil pans on the floor of the oven, or allow foil to touch the back wall of the oven as it will cause permanent damage.Can you put plates in a steam oven? ›
Glass and ceramic dishes for steam oven cooking
Heat-proof glass, ceramic and pottery dishes work well for combi steam cooking but aren't suited to most steamed foods.
If you'd like to soften or melt butter, or melt chocolate, you can do this quite easily at a low steam oven heat, so long as it's covered to prevent the steam from getting into the food.What's the point of a steam oven? ›
Steam ovens are generally considered to be healthier than standard ovens. The steam helps lock moisture into whatever food is being cooked or reheated, eliminating the need for extra oils and fats to keep food moist. No more getting trapped in the kitchen basting that turkey to keep it from drying out!Is 350 degrees the same in a convection oven? ›
Reduce the oven temperature of a standard recipe by 25 degrees if using a convection oven. If a recipe calls for baking at 350 degrees in a still oven, reduce the temperature to 325 if baking in a convection oven.What should you not bake in a convection oven? ›
Don't use convection for cooking cakes, quick breads, custards, or soufflés.