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Dec 19, 2012 12:55 AM

Pressure Cooker desserts

Doing fruits in a pressure cooker doesn't require much creativity or praying.

Cheesecake and cakes made of flour are a different story.

I have never used my pressure cooker (stovetop, with two pressure settings, high and low, 15 psi and 8 psi) to do a cheesecake or flour cake.

For cheesecake, I'd like to use lower fat ingredients and natural sweeteners, such as agave nectar. Does the cheesecake set just as well if I was to use lower fat cheeses such as neufchatel, nonfat cottage cheese, or even vegan cheeses? I'd even be willing to do half and half (full fat cream cheese with a lower fat cheese). For a sweetener, I'm ok with real sugar, but with the amount called for in these recipes, I'd rather go with another sweetener (not an artificial one) which is thought to be "healthier."

I have read that some Indian cooks use their pressure cooker without water and use sand in the bottom to help heat their cooker like a mini-oven. No way would I use my cooker that way. So, by using water (as intended for use by a pressure cooker), there would be a steam environment vs. a dry environment as in an oven. I may get a baking pan which has a lid on it (silicone based unit). Would that make a difference to the texture and rise of the flour-based cake if the pan was closed? Reviews for using a pc to make cake say that the finished product has a spongy texture like the Indian sweet called a

Of all the pressure cooker cookbooks I have read, only two have listed recipes for a flour-based cake. I thought there must be a reason why almost all of them list for desserts made in a pressure cooker just flans, cheesecakes, and fruit-based desserts.

The main purpose for using the pc to make a cheesecake and/or a flour-based cake is for reduced cooking time and ease of use. I have read that the flavor and texture of a cheesecake made in a pc is very good.

For the record, the baking pan to be used (most likely would get a silicone one with a cover - it's not a springform pan) would sit on a trivet above water. Cakes normally cook at above 350 degrees F.
With the high pressure bringing the temp to almost 250 degrees F, would that temp not be insufficient to cause rising in the cake?
(Though meat cooks at a higher temp yet it gets done faster and more tender in this kind of steam environment, so I'm not sure how to make sense of the temperature's affect on cooking.)

And, last ... if the cake does come out with a spongy texture, is there some modification in the ingredients that can be made to counteract the overly moist environement, such as using an ingredient that would "absorb" the moisture?

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  1. Never run your pressure cooker without water - unless you want to ruin it.

    You can absolutely make flour-based cakes in the pressure cooker. I'm writing my second cookbook on pressure cooking and the dessert chapter will include several conventional cake recipes.

    For pressure cooker cheesecake, just use a basic cheesecake recipe and halve it (or more) to fit the form that you will be pressure cooking. If it sets in conventional cooking, it will set in pressure cooking, too.

    To the pressure cooker add 2 cups water, steamer basket, and un-covered form containing cheesecake.

    Pressure cook at high pressure for 20 minutes with natural release.

    Let cool, chill, and enjoy!


    5 Replies
    1. re: pazzaglia

      I assume you are the author of the "hip" website with great looking pictures of baba ganoush! Browning the eggplant in the manner you described was clever, given the minimal if any water used in the recipe.

      Regarding your confidence in making flour-based cakes in the pc, do they come out spongy? Do you need to cover the pan? Is there any time savings with using a pc to make a cake? Wouldn't the cake still need the same amount of time to rise as in a conventional oven? (I am looking at doing a simple cake, such as a vanilla or lemon cake.

      Would you recommend a nonstick or tin/stainless steel springform pan over a silicone given the reported "thinness" of the silicone in the baking pan?

      Have you attempted a lower fat cheesecake, such as using in place of full fat cottage cheese a combination or single-based ricotta cheese, neufchatel cheese, nonfat (or 1 or 2 % fat) cottage cheese, or a nondairy (vegan) cheese?

      Why are there so few recipes for flour-based cakes in these pressure cooker cookbooks?

      1. re: FelafelBoy


        If you look carefully at instruction manuals and pressure cooker cookbooks, you will see the same recipes written over, and over again with one or two ingredients changed. A whole slew of pressure cooker cookbooks have been published this year and for the most part they come from authors who have written slow cooker, bread maker and toaster oven cookbooks. They don't really know the medium and don't bother experimenting with different recipes and techniques.

        Usually the authors are under a deadline to get another "appliance" book out so they just recycle recipes by changing a few ingredients - they don't have to test over, and over, and over again. That's why you see so few flour-based cake recipes in the pressure cooker. If one isn't already published and popular, you won't see any copies of it.

        There is no need to wait for cakes to "rise" they are made with chemical levners (baking soda or powder, not yeast) - which are activated by acid, liquid and heat.

        Though I can't share any here, I will definitely ask the publisher if we can share a pressure cooker cake recipe in the promotion of the cookbook (it'll be out in 2014 - snapping the photos for it now). I think, especially you, will really enjoy it. The chapter heads explain the WHY's and not just the HOW's of pressure cooking. It will have recipes, of course, but also explain all of the little adjustments and caveats so a cook can improvise and adapt with success.

        I have not tried making a low-fat cheesecake but I recommend you find an established recipe and then adapt it as I mentioned, above, to the pressure cooker.



        1. re: pazzaglia

          As I said from "the other board, " (MV) it was harder to track down this link (!) (than to reply "over there", but I wanted to let you know here that I appreciate your information and probably know why you referred me to follow your reply on this board (due to potential number of followers).

          I believe there probably is some simple formula that allows for a substitution of a few ingredients allowing for a recipe written for one medium to be used in another one, though the presence of a sealed steam environment (pressure cooker) presents different challenges that are not present in a drier environment (oven).

          I assumed that since almost all pressure cookbooks I have come across refer more to puddings for desserts vs. exploring cakes, that it meant that the pressure cooker is not useful for cooking cakes. Even one book I read recently, referred to "pudding cakes" and "bread puddings." At worst, I'd think there should be a way to do most of the initial cooking in a pressure cooker and then finish it off for a few minutes in the oven to "dry it out."

          Not having used a springform pan, I still need to be convinced that such a pan wouldn't leak in the pc!!

          Wait one year for your collection of cakes made in the pressure cooker? That's a long time!

          1. re: FelafelBoy

            There are steamed breads, both ones using yeast and baking powder. But trying to cook these faster under pressure probably will result in a flat cake. The CO2 and steam in the batter will be working against the higher pressure in the pot.

            1. re: FelafelBoy

              Generally it is not a good idea to ask the same question in different places at the same time.

              I answered your question here, because I saw it here first.

              You don't have to wait a year to make a cake in the pressure cooker... experiment! That is how all great recipes are made.

              Happy New Year!!


      2. Cooking with an insert is a variation on steaming.

        While an oven uses 350F, that is dry heat. The steam in a PC is much more effective at transferring heat to the food. The main thing that you won't get is browning.

        Lorna Sass has variety of recipes using a pressure cooker, especially bread puddings.

        I've seen Japanese recipes for steamed cakes. They would probably work in a PC. Chinese steamed breads might also work. Boston brown bread is a steamed quick bread. And there are various steamed or boiled 'puddings' in the British tradition that might also work in a PC.

        You might also take clues from recipes for microwaved cakes.

        1. Is it possible to have a cake rise in a pressure cooker?

          A cake recipe where I substituted "healthier" ingredients for traditionally used cake ingredients resulted in a gummy unrisen cake.

          I covered the cake pan with aluminum foil and cooked the cake under low pressure for about 30 minutes and let it come down using the natural pressure technique.

          The ingredients consisted of whole wheat pastry flour, all purpose flour, silken tofu (for eggs), brown rice syrup, extra light olive oil, baking powder, salt, and vanilla extract, and soy milk. The result was what you might expect - something inedible!

          Has anyone used a pressure cooker to create a cake with similar texture as you would get in the oven? (I have used silken tofu before as a substitute for eggs in a carob cake recipe and it came out fine when I cooked it in the oven, with the pan not being covered.)

          1 Reply
          1. re: FelafelBoy

            Did you by any chance "butter" / grease the pan sides for the cake? This might be applicable in your instance, since you had whole wheat pastry flour, and didn't have the leavening effect of eggs, but I've read that some cakes actually require the ability to "grip" the sides of the pan in order to rise. If the sides the ramekin (or whatever you used) were too slick, perhaps it was impossible for the cake to use the pan sides for rising purposes.

            It also occurs to me that since you covered the pan in the pressure cooker, but not in the oven, that perhaps the cover was keeping more moisture inside, and that moisture was also preventing the cake from using the sides of the pan to rise.