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

5.0 from 1 reviews
Amazing Caramelized Apple Crumb Cake - Lesson 8 - Bain Marie or Water Bath
Recipe type: Dessert, Pressure Cooker
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
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…


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  1. Quanto dev’essere buona!!!!!!!E’ semplicemente splendida!Un abbraccio e buonissima giornata

  2. Grazie per il tuo splendido commento!


  3. Thank you so much for this beginner series! As someone who just got their first pressure cooker it has been very helpful, especially since you don’t ignore those of us with electric pressure cookers.

  4. Nicole, thanks for noticing that I tried to be comprehensive and inclusive!

    Later this year I hope to gather all of the little bits of information on using electric pressure cookers that I sprinkled around the Beginner series put it all together in one comprehensive article.



  5. God that looks amazing. Thanks for being so detailed. I can’t wait to try this!

  6. Thank you for stopping by so I could find your website. I love my pressure cooker and am always looking for new things to cook in it!

  7. Dawn, let me know how you like it!

    Cheryl, your pressure cooker recipes make me want to run out and build a Barbeque!



  8. This is exactly my kind of dessert! I didn’t know you could use all of those containers in pressure cookers! Very cool, I’m thinking of cute little individual desserts in cups would be fun.

  9. The best part is that most of us probably already have “pressure cookable” containers so it’s just a matter of shopping your kitchen cupboards.

    Lovely idea to do little individual cakes!


  10. I made this cake today mostly out of curiosity.
    It was unexpectedly good. Delicious.We liked it very much although I served it with yogurt instead of ice cream.
    Do you think that it can be made with peaches when the season comes?

  11. So glad to read you enjoyed it, Stelp.

    This cake can absolutely be made with peaches, apricots, pears, and even plums. I would add a little more bread crumbs and a little less sugar to compensate for sweet, juicy peaches. You can even use whole peach halves, instead of cutting them into thin slices.

    My next pressure cooker dessert, coming in a month or so, will be a Chocolate Faux-fle’ (Fake Souffle’) – a rising tower of hot chocolate… without having to beat egg whites to peaks, or tiptoe around your pressure cooker. ; )

    Stay tuned!


  12. this cake is favolous.i’m happy to know your blog.beautiful photos and explicatives recipes

  13. Ciao Lucy! The problem between Italian and English is that something translated literally can sound completely inappropriate!! I think you meant either “excellent” or “detailed” recipes instead of explicatives (che vuol dire paraloaccia)!

    Benvenura.. welcome!


    P.S. I hope to have this teaching recipe series translated into Italian in the second half of next year.

  14. Hai,First time at your space….you got lots of lovely recipes and great explanations…Happy that I came accross your site….


  15. I found your site while I was searching for a recipe to pressure cook risotto. This was my first time using a pressure cooker and I loved it! Thanks for your wonderful and detailed explanations! I’ve read through this entire beginner series and I can’t wait to start pressure cooking more! The pictures and details were exactly what I needed to jump into this! I love that it saves energy and I can make wonderful desserts in the heat of the summer! Thank you so much for sharing!

  16. Reshmi & Michelle,

    Welcome! Please leave a comment after you try a recipe to let me know how you liked it (or not ; ).



  17. Thank you for a beautiful recipe. I’ve had my pressure cooker for nearly a week and I’ve used it everynight. I made this gorgeous crumble cake lastnight and it was a winner with my large family. I’m addicted to my pressure cooker and looking into getting my second one. Thank you for a great place for a novice to come and learn. :)

  18. Hi lora I made the cake. it was divine but did not mantain the shape like urs. sort of plooped out from the dish and distributed on the plate like a lump. still it tasted soooo good. wondering what I did wrong. what kind of bread crumbs do you use? should I use larger ones like panko bread crumbs. how about using rolled outs u think that would work instead of bread crumbs. thanks for trying new things with PC it is really inspirational ika

  19. Ika, it sounds like maybe the container wasn’t completely full or compact. The “cake” should always turn out but the slices may not always hold together.

    I used home-made bread crumbs in this recipe. I’m not familiar enough with how panko reacts when wet to recommend it. Regular bread crumbs expand, I don’t know if it’s the same with panko. You might try combining panko or rolled oats with breadcrumbs to see how it goes.



  20. I can not thank you adequately for the posts on your web site. I know you’d put a lot of time and effort into them and hope you know how much I appreciate it. I hope I’ll do exactly the same for someone else at some point.

  21. Thanks for stopping by Anonymous!



  22. Great dessert for the fall with all the fresh apples. Can’t wait to try the recipe for myself. thanks for sharing.

  23. First time I came to your site and am so happy I did.
    What a beautiful place to visit and learn.

    I have a question……..

    I use a digital pc and was wondering if I just cook this on low in my pc. ummm..I don’t see a “?” mark

    1. Welcome MaryAnne! Those instructions are for stove top pressure cookers – they need to start on high heat and when pressure is reached the heat needs to be turned down to maintain pressure.

      In your electric cooker, you just need to put in the time and press START on your electric! If it’s not stated in the recipe, it assumes high pressure (but I just added it to the lesson to make it extra clear).

      Thanks for your feedback, and come back to tell us how you like the cake!!



  24. I have the instant pot 5 liter pot- I can’t try this??? OMG- can I give the pot back?? There are just 2 of us so I bought the smaller pot.. woe is me… but I love your site… you are going to get me cooking!!! my first experiment was quinoa- I could not believe how fast and easy. Still very nervous… but attempting mushroom barley soup as I type.

    1. Don’t give back your 5L pressure cooker, yet! You may be able to make this in your 5L Instant Pot if..

      1. You have a lower trivet/steamer basket than the one supplied by Instant Pot
      2. You have a 4-cup capacity heat-proof container that will not raise too far over the edges of your pressure cooker.

      So glad to hear you are so excited about your new pressure cooker! Do let us know which recipes you try! (and if you can find a way to jam this cake in your 5L ; )



  25. bless you… my mushroom barley soup came out ok- I just need to get a better handle on the “how 2”. Now that the pot is clean I put the rack in, and an old stainless steal bowl that is 6 1/2″ bottom, and 7″ at the top- it holds 4 cups with 3/4″ head room, and on the trivet stands 4 3/4″ with the edge of the instant pot being 5 1/2″ tall. is this good to go?? It is a pretty curved bowl, like an old fashioned domed plate cover. has a nice lip around it too… but I will make tin foil helpers all the same.
    I note the strawberry jam recipe calls for a 6l pot also… is that just the size that you demo’d?? can I do the jam in my pot too?? I am feeling much to healthy… homemade jam to go on our homemade bread…

    1. I’m getting a little confused with the math, but if the lip of the bowl doesn’t go over the edge of the cooker you’re good to go.

      You can absolutely make a jam in your electric – just make sure the fruit and ingredients do not exceed half the capacity of the cooker (you may have to figure out where that is since it’s not clearly marked on the InstantPot) and the sugar or honey are melted and bubbling by the time you put the lid on so the cooker can reach pressure.

      Have fun!



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