Retro Recipe: Bake a Hot Milk Cake in an Hour!

While modern or avant-garde desserts are plenty of fun, sometimes you just crave an old-fashioned cake. This recipe for hot milk cake will absolutely satisfy your craving for something sweet and nostalgic. It’s also easy to make, can be assembled and baked in under an hour and you probably already have all of the ingredients on hand.

Hot milk cake

This retro recipe offers up some sweet eating!

Employing fairly basic ingredients, this recipe yields simple but quality eating. Each bite of this fluffy, flavorful cake seemingly transports you to a simpler time.

Curious about the cake’s unusual name? That’s due to the fact that you heat milk with butter before incorporating it in the batter.

This is also part of the secret to the cake’s unique texture. As I learned from this site, when the hot milk and butter mixture is incorporated into the light cake batter (which gets its lift from vigorously mixed eggs), the fat from the liquid coats the flour molecules, yielding a tender, velvety texture on the finished cake. 

Slice of hot milk cake

Photos via CakeSpy

Hot milk cake

Makes one 9-by-13-inch cake (12-16 servings) 

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces 

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 350 F with a rack in the middle position. Generously grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Step 2:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for five minutes. The mixture will look pretty foamy by the end of the mixing period.

Foamy egg

Note: I actually begin melty the milk and butter (Step 5) while the eggs are mixing. The timing usually works out well, if you’re a kitchen multi-tasker like me! 

Step 3:

After five minutes, add the sugar to the egg mixture and continue beating for another minute or so; the mixture will begin to look fluffy and light. Stir in the vanilla.

Step 4:

Add the flour mixture to the batter, and mix on low speed to incorporate it, making a thick batter for the moment. 

Briefly thick batter

Step 5:

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and butter. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted completely and the milk is hot (it might begin to slightly steam, but the butter should be melted before the mixture comes to a simmer). Remove from heat.

Step 6:

With the mixer running on low, slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the batter. Mix until the batter is smooth and creamy (it will be quite liquid now).

Step 7: 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes (rotating after about 15 minutes to ensure even baking), or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Remove from the oven, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Baked cake

Some recipes call for topping this cake with a glaze or whipped cream; other recipes leave this cake plain. Personally, I poured some homemade caramel sauce on top which made for a memorable flavor experience. 

Caramel topped cake

Personally, I like to slice this cake in rectangles and serve it straight from the pan. Store leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days. This cake can also be frozen for up to 1 month.

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