Slow cookers are a great way to get dinner on the table with minimal fuss and mess. We’re especially fond of using them for super tender meat preparations: pork shoulder, chicken thighs, and beef brisket do especially well when cooked low, slow, and undisturbed.
But have you ever tried baking in your slow cooker? We came up with six delicious ways to work the sweet side of your machine. Sure, you could make similar versions in the oven, but the slow cooker provides a slow (duh) even heat that, for some cakes, is far superior than the traditional oven treatment. Our Slow Cooker Cheesecake, for example, sets up with a delectable custard-like texture, no water bath required. And we suggest scooping the Chocolate Pudding Cake straight from slow cooker to dessert dish. Get the ice cream ready.
There are a couple of key things to keep in mind when you’re assembling these magic cakes. A few of them require a homemade rack that prevents the cake vessel from sitting directly on the bottom of the insert. Rather than have you special-order a custom rack, we coiled up some foil and used that to give the cake pans some breathing room. (This handy trick works if you need to make a homemade steamer basket as well).
These cakes all get baked with a towel pulled taught underneath the lid. The cakes will naturally create steam while they bake and the towel absorbs the droplets of condensation so they don’t drip back on to the cake and blemish the top. However, in the event that you happen to use an industrial-strength detergent, you may want to use something milder. We tried one cheesecake that tasted an awful lot like Mountain Fresh Breeze.
Slow-Cooker Angel Food Cake
Whether you make it in a slow cooker or bake it in the oven, angel food cake gets its lift from properly beaten egg whites. Unlike heavy cream, which is best whipped when very cold in a very cold bowl, egg whites whip better at room temperature. Leave your eggs out for a couple of hours before baking or set them in a bowl and cover them with some warm water. This should warm them up in about 15 minutes. Once your angel food cake has cooled, it’s best sliced with a serrated knife: those tiny teeth and a gently sawing motion will cut neatly through the cake without deflating it.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Angel Food Cake
Slow-Cooker Apple Spice Cake
The only trick to this sweet and simple cake is finding the right Bundt pan for the job. It calls for an 8-cup pan, smaller than standard Bundts, which are typically closer to 10–12 cup capacity. The most important thing is that the cake pan fit inside your slow cooker, so if it slides in with a little breathing room, you should be all good. While apple is a great choice, this cake would be no less delicious with chopped pear or even a mixture of the two fall fruits. Dust the cake with powdered sugar for a pretty presentation or serve with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Apple Spice Cake
RELATED: Easter Bunny Butt Cake
This Easter, make kids and adults squeal for this adorable cake, inspired by Peter Cottontail himself. We baked our favorite yellow cake in 3 layers, frosted 2 of those layers with our Vanilla Frosting and coated the whole thing with toasted coconut. If an all-white bunny is the critter you prefer, you can skip the toasting. For that matter, you can skip the coconut altogether if it’s not your thing, or substitute toasted walnuts or pecans for different texture. Whatever you do, serve this festive cake with a wink and a smile. Happy Easter!
Slow-Cooker Carrot Cake
Carrot cake can sometimes suffer from the dries. That’s why they’re often made with oil instead of butter and packed with controversial extras like raisins and pineapple. Butter is part liquid, which evaporates and can dry out during baking, even with the addition of shredded vegetables. But oil almost always ensures a moist cake, plus its neutral flavor won’t mask the natural sweetness of the carrots. Cooking, or actually steaming, this cake in the slow cooker, gives it an ultra moist interior and a layer of classic cream cheese frosting doesn’t hurt.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Carrot Cake
We’re going to tell you a secret: cheesecake has actually always wanted to be made in a slow-cooker, it just didn’t know how to ask. Most cheesecake recipes require a water bath, which usually means reinforcing your standard spring form pan with aluminum foil to prevent leaks and a scary hot water pour on the edge of a hot oven. But the slow-cooker solves all those problems. Its low, consistent heat ensures a creamy custardy interior minus the fear factor. This is another recipe where pan size matters, so be sure your cake pan fits neatly inside your machine before you start to assemble.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Cheesecake
Slow-Cooker Chocolate Pudding Cake
You guys like chocolate dump cakes, right? Oh, well, that’s what we heard. This one couldn’t be easier AND you don’t have to worry about it for 3 whole hours. It works in a round or oval-shaped slow-cooker and you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry. Except maybe the coffee granules, which are great, believe us, but you could definitely make this cake without them and the kiddos would be none the wiser. Go ahead and pull out the ice cream about 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat this one to encourage sexy melting.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Chocolate Pudding Cake
Slow-Cooker Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
If you’ve never made pineapple upside down cake, this recipe is a good place to start. Most upside-down cake recipes require you to make a traditional caramel and pour it into a cake pan before you layer on the fruit and the batter, which can be intimidating, even for seasoned upside-down cake bakers. But this one only requires mixing a bit of brown sugar with melted butter and smearing it on the bottom of a slow cooker and we KNOW you can handle that. We love a classic pineapple approach but come summer try this with peaches, plums or apricots.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Pineapple Upside-Down