The Ultimate Rice Cake?
Does it exist?
Since your here, more than likely you are an athlete of some kind with an idea of what a rice cake is... but, if you don’t know or haven't heard of, or read, the feezone cookbook (or portables) follow this link now - https://www.skratchlabs.com/products/the-feed-zone-cookbook
It’s often said that food is fuel and how athletes are able to gain advantages through performance nutrition. Dr. Allen Lim and Chef Biju Thomas detail numerous meal recipes for athletes from breakfast through desserts in their books. Whole selecting a single favorite recipe is hard, I can easily day my favorite part is the recipe section on rice cakes.
Lim's cookbooks provide inspiration from seasonal foods and numerous flavor combinations to make endless variations of toppings and fillings to satisfy any craving. Sweet vs savory, filled vs toppings- it's all up to you. Even the rice!
Which brings me to the topic of this post, the “ultimate“ rice cake. In a nutritional quest to find more optimal ways of fueling for performance, I have experimented with many different types of rice, and cooking methods, to try and find the perfect taste, texture and consistency of a cake. You could say it's almost an addiction.
For the past two years, I have kept a record of my rice cakes- the rice used, amount of water, time cooked, time at rest, heating method, flavoring added, type, amount etc... It's a large spread sheet! i definitely have more of a sweet tooth and favor sweet, short grain sticky rice as my base.
Some of my favorite combos have come from this sweet rice including:
Cran-stacchio (cranberry pistacchio)
Loco Cocoa (chocolate with some spice)
Through trial and error, I have found what ingredients/ foods I am able to tolerate at different intensity levels- and how to anticipate food cravings. With a snapshot of the week ahead, I can plan my rice cakes in advance (usually on a rest day) to prepare for future energy needs. Dave Starr, from Eat Drink Win, tested my nutrition to experiment with different ingredients, and concentrations, in advance of my 6 hour world record ride. Only through experimentation could we find what does, and more importantly, what doesn't work. Some ingredients were too strong and led to digestion challenges, others were hard to eat.
This is entirely personal preference, but I usually select agave as my cake sweetener. I found that the agave adds some “stick” to help bind, with a lite flavor that isn’t over powering. However, for this recipe, I was trying something different with sugar to make a more basic ingredient cake. Manipulating the ingredients slightly changed the texture and flavor of the cake. The end result was a rice marshmallow!
The secret ingredient here that really brings out the flavor is vanilla- but not just any vanilla. Singing Dog Double Fold Vanilla. That's right, double fold. Double fold is 2x the intensity of single fold i.e. 1T of double fold is NOT 2T of single fold. I have started to use the double fold in baking and figured I would try it in the rice cakes too. The vanilla doesn’t make the cake- it just adds a dimension of flavor. I have made these with regular vanilla and the texture/ consistency is the same.
These cakes, if you can call them that, are marshmallow-like in consistency and have a nice vanilla flavor to them. Of course, this is all personal but, I think they taste great. More importantly however, is the digestibility. Since their creation, I have taken them on some of my harder rides, and long sessions too. Between VO2 efforts or 6+ hour sessions, no upset stomachs or bloated feelings. So, to call these the "ultimate" rice cake is all personal...but I think these are REALLY good!
How does one make, what I call, the Ultimate Rice Cake?
everything is measured in grams for replicability and consistency.
64g white sugar- or more depending on your sweet tooth
160g sticky rice
20g water (measured separately for second part of recipe)
6g double fold vanilla
1. Rinse rice several times until water coming off is clear
2. Let soak for 8 hours, or overnight (preferred)
3. Cook rice according to package directions with rice and water directions above (I just started using an Instantpot and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes for this step)
4. Let sit for 15 minutes after prescribed cooking time in rice cooker or covered on stove (longer is fine too)
5. Prepare work surface with a sheet of wax paper
6. Place sugar and 5T of water in a sauce pot on the stove
7. Gently swirl the pot or stir to mix and evenly distribute the sugar and heat
8. Mix until the sugar starts to bubble- we want liquid sugar here with bubbles
9. Once liquid, remove from heat and pour into rice- it will be HOT
10. Mix (a whisk is probably best here but make sure it is wet as to prevent sticking)
Think of this as your high intensity interval cadence training for the day- MIX FAST!
11. Keep mixing until the mixture grows in volume (about 6 min of vigorous mixing)
12. Add vanilla
13. Keep mixing (It's the final 200m, go for the sprint!)
14.Once volume growth is evident, pour mix onto prepared surface of wax paper
13. Shape into rough rectangle
14. Let cool for 10 - 15 minutes
I don't specify how many cakes this makes. Depending on your preference, you may like single bite bars or multi bite bars. Or, you may find that you have bunny cookie cutters and want to make a bunny shaped cake.
This recipe was a mistake but i think it turned out really well, and my body is able to handle the digestion. In my next attempt, I want to try cooking the rice in coconut milk before adding the sugar mix. Extra calories from the coconut could be beneficial but I don't know how the taste and creaminess will translate over.
Do you have a favorite recipe or combo mix? Any inspiration for a future recipe? Leave a comment or send me a message. The test kitchen is open and taking orders.