Moist steamed cakes

Steamed pear cake
Rajiv Shah

Steamed cakes are moist and very easy to make. You have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already. Two things you will need: a good, tall steamer that will allow the cake to rise without touching the lid. A cloth to use with the lid to absorb the steam. If water drops back into the cake from the lid, you will have soggy top!

Steamer lid


  • 1 cup spelt flour

  • ¾ tsp baking powder

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

  • ⅓ cup plant milk

  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

  • ¼ cup oil of choice—I used olive oil

  • 3-4 tbsp maple syrup or sweetner of choice, including date paste

Optional ingredients for flavour

  • Fruit eg. chopped pears, pineapple, raspberries

  • Jam

  • 3 tbsp choc chips

  • 2 tbsp cocoa

Apart from a good steamer, you will also need three heat proof  medium sized glasses.


  1. Pre-heat the steamer, with enough water to steam the cakes for 20 to 25 minutes. Add a thin slice of lemon or lime—this is stop the pan calcifying. Once the water starts to boil, switch off the heat.

  2. Lightly grease the glasses with either coconut oil or oil of choice.

  3. Add the apple cider vinegar to the plant milk.

  4. Add all the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl and mix well.

  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix, except the jam or fruit if you’re using them. Mix well.

  6. If you are using fruit, place a small amount at the bottom of the glass.

  7. Put 2 tbsp of the cake mixture into each glass, if you are adding jam, if you are not then you put 3 tbsp instead.

    Cake mixture in glass

  8. Add 1 heaped tsp of jam and then add 1 tbsp of cake mixture. 

Leave enough space for the cake to rise and still remain within the glass. The glass I used is nine centimetres tall.

Place the glasses into the steamer and place the cloth wrapped lid over the top. Steam on a medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes. Don’t lift the lid until at least of 15 minutes of steaming. Steaming is more forgiving than baking.

Cakes in steamer

Check the cake with cocktail stick or something similar. It should come out clean when you stick it into the cake. If it is not, cook for a few more minutes and check again. Once cooked, removed the glasses from the steamer and let them cool.

Steamed cakes

You don’t need to remove the cake from the glass. Use a good looking glass, so that you can serve it as is. I add a dollop of soya yogurt to my cake once it was warm to the touch.

With the cake mixture I made—I used only 1 tbsp of sweetener, because I don’t like very sweet food. You can adjust this according to your own tastes. This was also because I was using pears and jam, which would add to the sweetness.

If you are going to make the chocolate version—you don’t need to add fruit or jam, unless you want to. Cherry jam works well with chocolate. Experiment with lots of different combinations. Use the above recipe as template—change it to your tastes and cooking methods.


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