My Peace Corps Kitchen: Stovetop Banana Bread

I love to bake. I didn’t do nearly enough of it in my last few months in the US because I didn’t have a kitchen that was really mine, important when you’re about to spend hours with bread dough or batch after batch of cookies. Luckily, the family that I stayed with during Pre-Service Training had an oven. While the process of baking wasn’t exactly the same as at home (read about that here), I was able to bake chocolate cakes on two different occasions pretty easily.

My current host family does not have an oven. Especially after getting a taste of those chocolate cakes, this bummed me out. Then Alex taught me how to steam-bake banana bread when I was out on the island. Basically an old tuna can with water in it goes in a big pot. The cake pan goes on top of the tuna can, and the big pot gets lidded. The water boils and steams and somehow cooks whatever is inside the pot.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to start baking right away when I returned from that trip:
Prep step one: eat some tuna.
Prep step two: bleach and wash that can really well (Alex had mentioned that skipping this step may result in fishy-tasting breads at first).

I filled my tuna can halfway with water per Alex’s recipe, and set it in my host family’s giant rice cauldron. Then I threw together my batter, poured it in my pan, and set the pan on top of the tuna can. I put the lid on the cauldron, and set my timer for 25 minutes. The cake wasn’t even close to being cooked. Another full half an hour later and it was still very soft. That first bread ended up taking 2 full hours on the stove, which discouraged me from trying it again anytime soon. Admittedly, it was delicious – even my host cousin who doesn’t like banana bread really enjoyed it. But the time in the hot kitchen just wasn’t worth it for me.

After making a call to my mommy, I tried again, this time pumping the gas on the stove to make the big pot good and hot. Sure enough, the bread only took 45 minutes this time! I was raising the roof in joy, because this time I was going to bake two breads: one for a potluck, and one for my host family. Actually, this time I called it cake because I whipped up a rich chocolate-peanut butter buttercream to top it off. I didn’t bother taking pictures, but here’s the recipe:

Steam-Baked Banana Bread

  • Servings: 1-16 (I'm not one to stop you from eating the whole thing!)
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While I make a killer banana bread in a conventional oven, this recipe is not for that. Materials needed to make a steam-bake stovetop oven are: empty and clean tuna can, a very large pot with a lid, and a cake pan.


  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 Tbs softened butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 Tbs powdered milk in a mug of water OR 1/2 c milk


  1. Fill tuna can 2/3 full with water. Place in large pot on stove and cover. Begin heat at low.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Mash bananas, and mix in eggs, butter, and vanilla. Mix in either 1/2 c of the powdered milk/water mixture, or the actual milk.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Mix thoroughly to ensure all dry ingredients are incorporated, but do not overmix.
  5. Butter and flour a cake pan that will fit into the large pot.
  6. Pour batter into cake pan.
  7. Place cake pan into the pot, setting it on top of the tuna can. Cover the pot, and pump up the heat to high.
  8. Cook 30+ minutes, checking as needed. Use extreme caution when uncovering the pot, as the steam that is generated within is very hot.

When I called this recipe cake, I used this buttercream recipe to top it off. Honestly, the buttercream stole the show.


About the author

Mountain View

A little about me!

Hey! I'm Brianna Hope, a born & bred midwesterner embarking on an adventure as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia. I am clumsy, I spill a lot, and I share most of my interests with 6 year-olds.

Follow me on Snapchat: alabrianna


The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Colombian Government.


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