Can Instant Pots Bake Healthy Cakes and Treats?
If you have had any interest in home-cooking over the last decade then the chances are you have heard about multicookers.
These appliances have turned into being one of the most important kitchen and cookware items a home-cook could purchase. They are very useful for making a variety of meals fast and conveniently.
One area that is in the news a lot regarding cooking, is how to eat healthier. Home cooking is regarded as being better for you than takeaways. However, that theory only comes true if you cook healthy items, and sometimes you just want to eat something naughty.
With the popularity of multi cookers, and Instant Pots, in particular, could you use them to cook traditionally naughty things such as cakes, but in a healthier way?
Don’t know what an Instant Pot is?
This is the brand name given to one particular range of multi cookers. A multicooker in itself is a small appliance that promises to carry out a range of cooking functions.
Typically, multi cookers and Instant Pots will do the following:
- Pressure cook
- Slow cook
- Steam rice
- Air fry
- Keep food warm
They are designed to be able to roast, steam, stew, and boil any ingredients that the user puts in. Their main function for many though is pressure cooking. This gives the appliance the ability to cook food much faster than normal, but with steam so that the food stays moist.
Can an Instant Pot cook any type of dish?
As you have just read, Instant Pots cook with steam under high pressure. This is good for certain foods such as joints of meat that you want to keep succulent. It is not so good for other types of cooking.
One bugbear that many Instant Pot owners have had over the years is that they cannot replicate fried food. Juicy tender chicken is desirable, but many want crispy skin. or golden breading, and the Instant Pot couldn’t achieve this. Therefore the air fryer attachment was added to some pots to produce a healthy air-fried version of traditionally deep-fried food.
This steaming process is also a bone of contention with cake and cookie lovers.
So, can you bake cakes in a multicooker?
If you explore blogs and magazines you will find thousands of recipes for the Instant Pot. There is an army of fans who use their pots for all manner of different cooking styles and food.
For some though, the Instant Pot presents a problem when it comes to baking cakes. The process used means that you will be steaming rather than baking the cake.
Before you dismiss the Instant Pot as a way to make dessert though, consider the following. Cheesecakes, puddings, and cobblers, all benefit from a certain amount of moisture, and bread pudding, in particular, could work well in a pressure cooker.
You may not be able to make a Victoria sponge as good as your grandmother’s in a pressure cooker. You can, however, make a fine Oreo cheesecake in an Instant Pot, and quicker than you could in an oven.
Will these cakes taste the same as if they were baked traditionally?
The benefit of using an Instant Pot is that they don’t have hot and cold spots like some traditional ovens. This means that your cake may be cooked more evenly.
The pressure cooking method also means that cheesecakes, for instance, can be cooked in half or a third of the time that an oven could. The real test though is the taste, and the appearance.
Firstly, the size of the cake will be different. Instant Pots cannot accommodate standard-sized cake tins. You will need to use non-standard 6-inch tins. Not the worst thing, but something to note.
Secondly, cakes will be paler than they would if cooked in an oven. This won’t necessarily affect the taste though. The differences between cakes from an Instant Pot and an oven are largely visual and textural. Instant Pot cheesecake will have a base that is a little less crunchy than that from an oven. However, Instant Pot cakes are delightfully moist.
Are Instant Pot cakes healthy?
If you are eating cake then you are probably not considering what health benefits you are gaining. However, there are some health benefits with pressure cookers in general.
There was an NCBI study that showed that pressure-cooked food retained more nutrients compared to blanching and other cooking methods. This may have little relevance when eating cakes, but it does point to Instant Pots being a healthy way to prepare food.
When food reaches a high temperature, certain compounds can be formed. One of these, acrylamide, is known to be carcinogenic. People are unknowingly consuming these compounds regularly if they eat roasted, fried, and baked food.
Baked food, as in cakes. Fortunately, Instant Pots don’t produce these carcinogens due to the way they cook. Therefore, it could be said that pressure-cooked cakes are healthier than those baked in an oven.
Is all the food from an Instant Pot healthy to eat?
Most people don’t just use their multi-cookers for cakes, so it is worth understanding how good the rest of Instant Pot cooked food is.
The reality is that you can only get out what you put in, to a big degree. If you are eating red meat cooked in your Instant Pot every day then overall it won’t be good for you.
The Instant Pot gains points for healthy food due to it being a one-pot appliance that uses pressure and steam to cook with. This means that its owners tend to lean towards soups, broths, stews, and casseroles. Of course, you can cook chili con carne, curries, and other dishes too. Yet, most of these dishes tend to use little or no oil and benefit from lean meats and lots of vegetables.
Pressure cookers seem to encourage users to eat healthier by virtue of their cooking method. They steam better than they fry, for instance. There is also evidence that food is easier to digest after being pressure-cooked, and more vitamins are retained.
When it comes to vitamins, one report shows that pressure-cooked food retains more of them compared to other methods. The Journal of Food Science’s report showed 80% of vitamin C was retained through pressure cooking, compared to 78% and 66% when steamed and boiled, respectively.
Any other benefits to cooking cakes in an Instant Pot?
There are two other benefits to making some cakes in your Instant Pot. While you may not be able to make all cakes in a pressure cooker, you can certainly make a good cheesecake and banana bread.
While you are making these items, you will be doing two other things; saving money, and helping the environment.
Pressure cookers use high temperatures to cook quickly and efficiently. This means you will use less energy – which is good for the planet, and in turn, you will spend less on utility bills
If you are looking to become a Master Chef at home, then adding a multicooker to your kitchen might help. They can help any home-cook to make an assortment of quick and healthy meals.
Perhaps they won’t help you to get onto Bake Off, but they can make some great puddings and cheesecakes. The health benefits may be negligible as far as cakes are concerned, but the quicker cooking time represents convenience and is better for the wallet and the planet.