I’ve seen several recipes for steamed chocolate cake and have been curious as to how the texture and taste would be for a cake that is steamed rather than baked. I bookmarked a recipe a long time ago that I found on The Little Teochew, but I was always too lazy to try out the recipe until now.

Once I got around to doing it, it wasn’t too hard to put together. The biggest problem I had was the steaming though. First, I had some trouble finding a pot big enough to hold a 9 inch round baking pan. And then I had trouble finding a proper steamer. Usually I use a bamboo steamer, but my mini one was too small. Another problem I had is that you are supposed to line the entire baking pan with parchment paper. My parchment paper is in sheets and so it’s quite difficult trying to line the sides of a round pan. My parchment paper had a lot of folds, which of course affected how the cake looked, since it ended up having many grooves from the parchment paper.

As I steamed the cake, I knew this cake would come out moist, since it was being cooked with so much moisture surrounding it.

Once the cake was done, I let it cool and then it was ready to be tasted. The most noticeable difference right off the bat is the exterior of the cake. Because it is baked with so much moisture, the surface of the cake is quite dark, almost as if a thin layer of chocolate ganache had been put on.

The cake was moist and a little dense. I was surprised. I’ve had steamed asian cakes before like the ones served at dim sum and they’ve always been really soft and spongy so I had expected a similar texture. However, this cake texture was very similar to a baked chocolate cake, just slightly more moist.

The cake was good and had a deep chocolate flavor. It didn’t completely wow me so I’m not sure if I’ll make it again. I think this method of making cake almost guarantees a moist cake, but steaming in a 9 inch round baking pan is a bit of a pain if you don’t have all the right equipment.

Steamed Chocolate Cake (recipe found on The Little Teochew)

Ingredients

- 188g unsalted butter
- 225g castor sugar
- 1/2 can evaporated milk (about 200ml)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Line and grease a 9-inch pan.
2. Combine castor sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla extract and butter in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted. Once all ingredients are melted, turn off the heat and leave it on the stove to cool.
3. In a bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda.
4. Once the liquid mixture is cooled, add the beaten eggs in and mix thoroughly. Finally, pour the mixture into the flour and stir till well combined. The final batter should be runny.
5. Pour the batter into prepared pan and place it in the steamer. Cover the top of the pan loosely with a sheet of aluminium foil.
6. Steam over medium heat for 45 mins or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
7. Turn off steamer and let cake cool completely.

The Nordstrom in downtown San Diego has a cafe on the top floor. It sells mainly sandwiches and salads, but with a more upscale setting.

You line up and place your order and find an empty table. After that, a server will come over and bring your drink, your order, and service you throughout your meal.

The sandwiches here are pretty tasty. The sandwiches are panini sandwiches, served hot and toasted. BF and I had lunch there the other day.

We shared a salad and a sandwich. The salad was a shrimp louis salad. It was served with a hot sour dough bread.

We also ordered a chicken club sandwich. The sandwiches come with salad or chips.

At the end of your meal, they give you some chocolate mints.

It’s a nice spot to come for lunch if you work nearby or if you need a shopping break. I’ve always had attentive service here.

Nordstrom Cafe
324 Horton Plz
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-1700
Nordstrom Cafe on Urbanspoon

I’ve been craving more of the tangzhong method bread lately. I just can’t get enough of the soft, fluffy texture of this bread. I’ve scoured the blogs for other recipes but this weekend I decided to try playing around and creating my own variation, using one of my favorite things: nutella.

I’m pretty sure I can eat nutella on toast for breakfast everyday and not get sick of it. I’ve never made a swirl type loaf bread but I’ve been wanting to try cinnamon raisin swirl bread. Hopefully I’ll get to try it soon. Using that same idea, I decided to try creating a nutella swirl loaf.

So far, all the tangzhong breads I’ve made have required separating the bread into smaller chunks and then letting the chunks bake together to form a single loaf. For this bread, I used one giant chunk and hoped for the best.

I used the recipe for the milk bread as my basis. I then decided to split it in half to create two loaves of nutella swirl bread, since one loaf of milk bread with this recipe is pretty big and always bursting out of my 9 x 5 loaf pan.

To my relief, this bread came out pretty well. The bread is soft and chewy, with nutella swirled inside. I wasn’t too happy about the gaping holes between the layers of nutella swirl, but I’m not sure how to eliminate them either.

The recipe was enough for two 9 x 5 loaves. I was worried there would be enough rise in the dough to create two whole loaves, but there was.

Nutella swirl bread
Yields 2 loaves

Ingredients:

2½ cups bread flour
3tbsp+2tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
½ cup milk
120g tangzhong (click here for making tangzhong)
2 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsp butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)
nutella for filling

Directions
1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast in a bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center. Add in all wet ingredients: milk, egg and tangzhong. Fit the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer and begin mixing on medium speed and knead until your dough comes together and then add in the butter and continue kneading.  Keep kneading until the dough is smooth, not too sticky on the surface and elastic. I kneaded the dough for about 18-20 minutes. Each mixer may vary.

When the dough is ready, you should be able to take a chunk of dough and stretch it to a very thin membrane before it breaks. When it does break, the break should be form a circle.


2. Knead the dough into a ball shape. Take a large bowl and grease with oil.  Place dough into  greased bowl and cover with a wet towel. Let it proof until it’s doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
3. Transfer to a clean surface. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Knead into balls.  Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.
4. Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into a thin rectangle.
5. Spread nutella across rectangle, leaving about one inch of dough along the edges. Roll up dough from the short end. Place in loaf pans and cover with plastic wrap. Let them rise until double the size, approximately another 40 minutes. The dough should fit across most of the loaf pan when it is finished rising.
6. Beat an egg and brush egg mixture on top to create shiny eggwash finish.
7. Place breads on lower third shelf of oven. Bake at 325 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes.