Amazing Caramelized Apple Crumb Cake – Lesson 8 – Bain Marie or Water Bath

pressure cooker apple dessert
Using a heat-proof container, and the Bain Marie method (with a little help from your broiler) you can make this beautiful multi-layer crumb cake. And it’s as easy as mix, stack, and cook!

Bain Marie, Water Bath or Pan-In-Pot Method

When I first heard that you can cook Bain Marie in the pressure cooker, visions of a small pot of delicately melting chocolate popped into my head. I had no idea what a varied, convenient and even fun method of cooking this would be when done in the pressure cooker.

Yes, water bath in the pressure cooker, is a way to shield and protect foods, but instead of shielding them from a little pot of boiling water, you are shielding them from the turbulent super-heated interior of your pressure cooker.  We are still talking about higher temperatures, and faster cooking.

Cook it.
You can use this cooking method for both sweet and savory dishes like poaching eggs,  steaming fish,  sweet or savory flans,  all kinds of puddings, creme caramel and brulee’, and cheesecakes too! It can also be used as a way to slow down the cooking time of a component of a one pot meal.

Contain it.
Here comes the fun part: you can use any heat-proof container or form, including a cheesecake pan or a small pot. Here is a photo of all the containers I use for this cooking method:

Ceramic plates and bowls, silicone forms in any shape, coffee and tea cups, pyrex dishes, aluminum disposable dishes, heat-proof jars, stainless steel mixing bowls and my favorite – and what I use in this recipe – stainless steel “lunch box” (pictured top-left) are all things that can be used in your pressure cooker.

More info: Choosing Heat-Proof Containers

Handle it.

Pressure Cooker Foil Sling also called "Helper Handles"Even the notoriously thorough Chris Kimball,  host of America’s Test Kitchen, dinged pressure cooking Cheesecakes in an interview because he could not get the cake out of the pressure cooker. Somehow, he missed the best-known pressure cooking tip for using containers without handles: an easy two-fold tinfoil sling also known as “Helper Handles” (see instructions for making helper handles).

Unfortunately, you may not realize you need them until you need to pull something out of the pressure cooker. Putting containers in is easy; but, pulling them out when they are hot, heavy, steamy and wet is not!

Do it.
Recipes may vary, though almost all suggest filling the pressure cooker with 1 to 2 cups (or 1/2 liter) of water, buttering and/or lining the form with oven paper  and covering the form tightly with tin foil to keep the steam from wetting the contents.

When using  multiple small forms, place a steamer basket inside your pressure cooker, then place as many forms as will fit upright inside the basket without touching the sides of the pressure cooker.  If the forms are low, or your pan is very tall, you can even stack the forms, vertically. Remove small forms using tongs or with your oven-mitt-covered hand.

When using large forms, use a a trivet or steamer basket to keep the form from touching the bottom of the cooker and don’t forget to add the helper handles!

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger steamer basket, heat-proof bowl 20 min. High(2) Natural

Amazing Caramelized Apple Crumb Cake - Lesson 8 - Bain Marie or Water Bath
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This recipe is for a heat-proof container that is 6¾ inches or 17 cm wide. Mine has a flat bottom, but you can certainly make this dessert in a bowl with a rounded bottom -it will require a little more skill to artistically arrange the apples on the "top" exterior layer. Adjust the quantities to the size of the container.
  • 6 small Yellow or Red Apples, cored and sliced
  • ¾ cup /12 Tbsp. or 170 g Butter, melted
  • 1 square of Butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour
  • ¼ cup of Demerara/Raw SugarCrumb Filling:
  • 2 cups or 150g Dry Bread Crumbs
  • ¾ cup or 120g Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger Powder
  • ½ Lemon, juice and rind
  1. Prepare the ingredients for the crumb filling by combining the bread crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, lemon juice, zest and melted butter. Mix well and set aside while you work on your apples and prepare your container.
  2. Take your un-peeled well-washed apples and remove their core. Then, slice them very thinly- use a mandolin, if you can, for really nice, even, thin slices.
  3. Butter the interior of the container all the way up to the edge. Next, put the tablespoons of flour in the container and swoosh the flour around so that you have an even coat of flour stuck to the butter inside the container.
  4. Begin layering the apple slices. The bottom layer will become the top when you flip the cake out of the container so arrange the apple slices carefully for this first layer. I laid them in a fan shape, being careful that the hole from the core did not show.
  5. Add a layer of bread crumb mixture. Alternate apple and bread crumb layers until your container is full or you run out of ingredients. Don't worry, the other layers of apples do not need to be so carefully laid - just ensure that you have apple slices all the way to the edge of the container and in a relatively even layer.
  6. When you are finished filling your container, cover tightly with tin foil. If your container does not have a handle that will facilitate putting it in and, especially, out of the pressure cooker, construct Helper Handles out of tin foil (see instructions for constructing helper handles).
  7. Prepare the pressure cooker by adding minimum amount of water required, usually 1 to 2 cups, and placing the trivet (or steamer basket insert, or anything that will hold your container out of the water). Lower the container in the pressure cooker onto the steamer basket/trivet.
  8. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
  9. For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 20 minutes at high pressure.
    For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 20 minutes pressure cooking time.
  10. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker and open when the pressure indicator has gone down (20 to 30 minutes).
  11. Carefully remove the container from the pressure cooker and remove the tin foil. Place your serving dish on top of the container and flip it upside-down so that the serving dish is now on the bottom. Carefully lift to reveal your beautiful Apple cake!
  12. Now, sprinkle the top of the cake with a nice layer of Demerara or Raw sugar and place the whole cake under the broiler for 3-4 minutes. Watch it carefully! Grill until the sugar has melted and the top of the cake is a beautiful golden brown. Or, if you own a little kitchen blow-torch, this is the perfect job for it!


You have completed the Beginner Basics learning recipe series. You’re now armed with the knowledge to tackle any pressure cooker recipe on this website, or your favorite cookbook. Please let me know how you liked it, and post any suggestions for improvements or additions to this course in the comments section or view the entire Beginner Basics Course outline!

Now that you can cook in a Water Bath in the pressure cooker, you can make…