Monday, September 12, 2011

(Not your ordinary) Chocolate Cake

My husband loves his grandmother's cooking, particularly her nasi himpit (a traditional Malay dish where rice, cooked with more water than usual, flavoured with pandan and then compressed and cut into square cakes) and kuah kacang (peanut sauce) which she makes once a year. I've tried it; he's right. The rice cakes almost melt in your mouth and the peanut sauce has the perfect combination of flavour and texture — not too hot, not too sweet, not too oily. Perfect.

So, when he commented today that my dish tasted like his grandmother's nasi himpit, I should have been pleased, right?

Well, not quite since he was commenting on a chocolate cake I had baked. He assured me though that the cake was good, and the comparison was a compliment. Ok, then.

Actually, as strange as the comparison sounds, he may have been on to something since I made this chocolate cake in a rice cooker. Hell, yeah: A RICE COOKER! Not the fancy-schmancy computerized cookers. The generic basic model that has just two functions: cook and keep warm. 

See.. I am not kidding. Just a regular rice cooker

So, what compelled me to bake a cake in a rice cooker? Well, for this week's Don't Call Me Chef (column in The Star), I decided to focus on the wondrous rice cooker (will add the link as soon as the article is published online). Everyone knows how to cook rice in the rice cooker but how about a cake? Or soup? Or a stew? What about bread?  To accompany the article, I included recipes for two dishes I made in the cooker: a pineapple cake and macaroni and cheese. The cake was nice and moist (though it didn't rise quite as much as I would have liked it — turned out to be more of a pineapple slice) and the macaroni was scrumptious, complete with the crispy cheesy bits you get when you bake it. 

 Mac and Cheese and Pineaple cake/slice
I was happy but I wanted to have another go at making a cake in the cooker as I wanted my rice cooker cake to rise. And that, my friends, is how I ended up making this chocolate cake.

Don't le the craters on the surface scare you
I adapted this recipe from one I saw on Of course, that cake went into the oven and not the rice cooker.

Here's what's so special about this cake (apart from the fact that it was made in a rice cooker — sorry to repeat this so many times but I am just amazed).

* it is an eggless cake. Most eggless cakes I've tried use condensed milk to replace the eggs so that the cake remains soft and moist. This recipe doesn't use condensed milk but instead, vegetable oil. 

* the cake uses unsweetened cocoa, lemon juice and vinegar: a similar combination used in the red velvet cake. The chemical reaction between the cocoa, lemon juice/vinegar gives the cake a reddish hue. 

So,  don't get put off by one man's comparison of the cake to ... er... compressed rice. The cake turned out great. The rice cooker chocolate cake was dense but extremely moist; soft but not too spongy (come to think of it, that's somewhat similar to the compressed rice cakes). The texture is somewhat like that of the Honeycomb Cake (Bingkai Semut), a popular Malaysian cake that is steamed.

The chocolate cake is also extremely chocolatey...and it rose well and had height as well as depth of flavour. The crumb is soft; it doesn't have the slight crispy crumb of baked cakes.

You can eat the cake as is or you can slice the cake horizontally in half and make a sandwich cake with a simple chocolate frosting in between the layers. A recipe for the frosting follows. Enjoy!

Rice Cooker Chocolate Cake

11/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
3 tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp (heaped) baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil (plus  a bit more for greasing)
1 tbsp vinegar
1 cup water

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda into a bowl and whisk them together with the salt and sugar, lightly. Add the oil, extract and vinegar and mix till well incorporated. Add the water, bit by bit, until a smooth batter emerges and then gently mix in the choc chips. Be careful not to over mix.

Grease the rice cooker pot with some oil and then pour the batter into the pot. Close the lid of the rice cooker and press the cook button down. The cooker should switch to the "keep warm" function after about 5 − 7 minutes even though the cake isn't done yet. Leave it on warm for about 10 minutes then press cook again.

After another 5-7 minutes, the cooker will once again switch to "warm". Leave it, this time for 30 mins before pressing cook one last time.

When the lever pops up this time, the cake should be done. Put a tester through the cake to make sure — the tester should come out clean. If it is still a little wet, let the cake warm in the cooker for another 10 mins. If the cake is done, remove the pot from the cooker and let it cool before your upturn it onto a plate.

That's ooozy frosting in the middle, not uncooked batter!

Optional Frosting
(for top of cake or, if you want a sandwich cake, in between the layers)

50g butter, melted
10 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
4 tbsp cocoa, sifted

Mix all ingredients together.


  1. Tq for ur creative recipes. I'm inspired to try dis cake :) wish me luck :)

  2. If you're going for those bread-making recipes, there's a few going out on the Net. One of which, notably, comes from a Japanese anime called "Yakitate Japan!" or something like that. And according to some people out there, the recipe featured DOES work.

    Haven't tried it yet, but if you're going that way...^_^; I like your Star article, by the way.

  3. hi, i wanna ask , 1 cup of flour is equivalent to how many grams? and 1 cup of water is equals to how many milliliters ? thanks for ur information, appreciate it !

  4. Greetings to you. It's nice to know that rice cooker can be a multi purpose cooking tools. Regards to Wan Hui question, I also would like to know on the conversion of cup to the respective measurement.

    Would appreciate the information as I would like to try baking using your methods.


  5. Hi guys sorry for not replying asap. Am away on holiday at the moment and have not been able to log on as much as i would like. Anyway, here are the answers to your querries:

    1 cup plain flour = abt 128g

    1 cup water = abt 235 ml

    have fun trying the recipe and let me know how they go!

  6. Came across your recipe and thought it was great. So I followed the recipe exactly except I added the chocolate chips in the batter before pouring into the cooker pot.

    After the 3rd cook cycle, the cake was far from done. So I did the this: 10 min rest - cook - 15 min rest - cook. Ran a tester thru and it came out clean. I removed the pot and left it to cool.

    Unfortunately, when I flipped the pot over, the cake wouldn't budge. I used a spatula to loosen the sides and gently shook the pot. The cake dropped out and sort of fell apart while a portion was still stuck to the bottom of the pot.

    Any advice would be appreciated!!

  7. Hey Lemons

    Here's my suggestion. Instead of removing the pot after running the tester through, perhaps leave it for another 10 mins. Or, maybe add a tad more flour, like maybe a couple of tbsp or 1/4 cup?

  8. Hi there,

    When do you add the chocolate chips? They're listed in the ingredients but not mentioned in the recipe.

    1. OMG Rose. Sorry for that! And thanks for pointing it out. You add the chips once you're done adding the water. It's the last step. Have added it into the recipe. Thanks again ;)

    2. Thanks so much! Looking forward to trying it this weekend.

    3. Good luck! Let me know how it turns out. BTW after you posted your comment, I made the cake again but this time added shaved sweetened coconut instead of choc chips. If you like choc and coconut together, you should try this. You could add the coconut on top of the choc chips :)

    4. I had the same problem that Lemons did. It turned out that my Aroma digital rice cooker doesn't switch from "cook" to "warm"; it switches from "cook" to "off". So instead of the [cook, warm 10 minutes, cook, warm 30 minutes, cook] cycle you suggested, I got [cook, off 10 minutes, cook, off 30 minutes, cook]. Needless to say, this did no good. So once I figured that out, I went with [white rice, warm 10 minutes] repeated until the cake tester came out clean, since it does go from the "white rice" setting to "warm" automatically.

      Fellow Aroma digital rice cooker owners, take this as a warning! When the "warm" light is blinking, it is not actually warming anything. You need to press the "warm" button for it to be useful.

      Next time I'll try [white rice, warm 10 minutes, white rice, warm 30 minutes, white rice] and see what happens.

    5. thanks for sharing. Did the cake turn out well in the end?

  9. Hi. I am planning on making this cake for vday. In case rice cooker attempt fails, can I bake it in the oven as usual?


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