Disaster struck…we ran out of sugar: Steamed Condensed Milk Cake recipe.

Hello everyone. I apologise that is has been so long since I last wrote on my blog…as you can imagine, it has been a busy time of sorting stuff out but I would like to say a huge VINAKA VAKA LEVU to everyone who read (over 15,000 people!!!) and shared my first blog. It was amazing to see it being posted on Facebook, Twitter and it even made it to the newspaper. I have loved reading all the comments and messages and am still getting round to replying to some of them, so honestly, thank you!!!! I will be writing a full update blog on the village, life since Cyclone Harold and our fundraiser at the beginning of next week…thank you for being patient on the update, I know many of you have asked so don’t worry, I’ll be getting it to you as soon as I can!

Today’s blog, however, is a little story of another drama that occurred in April. During the Suva COVID 19 lockdown, one thing happened which should NEVER happen in the village…that’s right, we ran out of sugar. 

It was absolute carnage in our house. Alfie refused to drink tea. We took boats to multiple stores around the island trying to find it with no luck. Prices inflated in the only places where it could be found. Icing sugar began to be added to everything instead; coffee, sauces, any baked goods… whatever it was, in went a spoonful of icing sugar which just did not settle well with me as a keen baker. 

As breakfast in the village is often something yummy, like panikeke, babacau, or the flat round pancakes (I call them English pancakes because I always forget the Fijian name for them), I decided I would do a bit of Googling so I could make the boys a tasty but sugar-less breakfast dish. 

From this, the ‘Steamed Condensed Milk Cake’ was born. You may have seen me mention it in my first blog about the cyclone…besides all that happened that day, I would say that this cake made life a bit better! Today, I would like to share the recipe with you just incase you ever fancy trying something new, or indeed, you run out of sugar. 

The first time I made the cake in Lomanikoro, Nakasaleka, Kadavu.

Im not going to pretend that “sugar-less” means healthy because condensed milk must have tonnes of sugar in it, and there is the option to put a drizzle of white icing on top which really doesn’t make it sugarless at all, but anyway, try to make it and see what you think. For me, I like it served plain with a spreading of mango jam, although if you reach the end of my blog, in the final picture you will see I found some Betty Crocker icing in Suva so I’ve used that whilst making it for our neighbours today.

*Disclaimer* I would like to add, before you read on, I do not have weighing scales or a cup measurer so the quantities are estimates. This cake is a bit of a trial and error situation so have a go and good luck! 


1 1/4 cup of plain flour

1 tbsp of baking powder 

1 tin of condensed milk (395g) 

4 Eggs 

4 tbsp of oil (I used soya bean oil but I think any vegetable oil would do)


1 cup of icing sugar 

4 tbsp of water 

This recipe fed myself, Alfie and Ilaisa (and probably Paka too as he loves to visit our house) who both like to kana vakalevu (eat a lot). If you have a bigger family, I recommend doubling or tripling the quantities but then bake in separate batches. You don’t want the cake to be more than 5-7cm deep or it just won’t cook well. 


  1. Mix the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl and set aside. 
  2. Whisk the condensed milk, eggs and oil with a fork (or a whisk if you have one) until the consistency is smooth and well mixed. 
Step 3 – the addition of a small puppy biting your feet is optional.

4. Add the flour and baking powder, stirring in one spoon at a time, until a cake mix is formed

5. Grease the pot with oil or butter and cut a sheet of baking parchment to cover the bottom of the pot – you can do without the baking parchment but be prepared to grease it very well and you might have to scrub your pot afterwards!

6. Set the pot in a larger pot or pan (on a small metal rack if you have one) and fill the bottom of the larger pot with about 3-4 cm of water. Put the lid on the cooking pot.

7. Heat on a medium heat until the water is bubbling and then leave on a low heat for 60 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when you spear the centre of the cake. 

8. Remove from the heat, wait for it to cool down and then turn it out on to a plate.

You can see the last bits of my vakasigalevu in the top corner – cheesy garlic chicken and pea pasta , a favourite of mine!

9. Slice and serve plain with butter and jam, or mix 1 cup of icing sugar with 4 tbsp of water and drizzle over the cake whilst it is still warm. Or, if you’re feeling fancy and are making it for a special occasion, make a buttercream or buy one (the lemon Betty Crocker one goes really well!)

My most recent attempt at the Steamed Condensed Milk Cake, with a cheeky addition of Betty Crocker icing, made for our neighbours..

So there you have it! I hope you enjoy it and if you do make it, please tag me in a photo on Facebook or Instagram @emmaawhitney or hashtag #notlostinfiji and share this blog to help me out!


One thought on “Disaster struck…we ran out of sugar: Steamed Condensed Milk Cake recipe.

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