Let’s head to the United States for a traditional American cake. Have you ever tried hot milk cake? This cake is very popular in the Mid-Atlantic region.
What is hot milk cake?
Hot milk cake is part of the American tradition. It is a very airy and very light cake. Also, its consistency is similar to sponge cake or Savoy biscuits. But do you know why it is so particular?
Hot milk cake differs from traditional “sponge cakes”. Its recipe is really different as the egg whites and egg yolks are not separated. The whole eggs are beaten with the sugar for a long time. No need to beat the egg whites separately.
In addition, there is baking powder in the recipe, which could be a sacrilege in the making of a traditional sponge cake. Since 1991, hot milk cake has been a fixture at the annual Strawberry Festival (Ann Arundel County Historical Society’s Annual Strawberry Festival). It is served with berries.
History of traditional American cakes
In the United States, there is a multitude of traditional regional cakes that are the pride of locals. Summer has always been a privileged time for making cakes and delicacies. The heat never discouraged our grandmothers and housewives.
In the past, houses were not air conditioned. So it was common to leave the windows open and cool the cakes, cookies and pies on the windowsills.
A cake was a symbol. It was the offering that was brought to the church, the comforting gift that one brought if one were invited to a dinner, a political event, or a breakfast. As a result, regional specialties emerged: they became rooted in the regional American culture via word of mouth, local newspapers and recipe cards in parish newsletters.
With the recent comeback of the vintage style, traditional cakes are on the rise. You will understand why the hot milk cake is still very popular.
Why hot milk cake is a favorite of Americans?
Its vintage look
The hot milk cake is the grandmother’s cake par excellence. There are some controversies about this cake though. Some believe it should be a 2-layer cake. For others, the hot milk cake has only one layer. Anyway, the mocha icing that covers this cake is unanimous. This icing is usually spread with a spatula or a knife for a rustic look. We prepared the one-layer version of the cake, which the most widespread version.
Its scalded milk aroma
The hot milk cake has a very special taste. This taste is due to the introduction of thermized milk in the original recipe. Thermized milk is unpasteurized milk which is heated for a minimum of 15 seconds at a temperature of between 145 F and 149 F. This warming of the milk makes it possible to sterilize it and to sanitize for certain pathogenic germs like listeria while preserving a good part of the natural bacterias of the milk. It is used in cheese to avoid taste variations. It used to be used in making puddings. Nowadays, the milk is pasteurized. Also, in order to regain the taste of yesteryear, we recommend you to boil the milk with the butter in a saucepan before adding it to the dough.
Its smell of pudding when coming out of the oven
Hot milk cake gives a wonderful smell while baking and when coming out of the oven. Indeed, it smells like hot vanilla pudding. But it is surely its airy texture that seduces most fans of this cake. It is golden and fluffy to perfection. It is dense and rich in taste.
Its decadent mocha icing
Hot milk cake can be eaten as is, but tradition has it covered with a delicious mocha icing. In the southern United States, hot milk cake is different than in the north of the country. It is common to prepare it as a one-layer cake. In addition, traditional mocha icing is replaced with fruit, icing sugar or coconut chips.
It serves as a base for Boston cream pie
Boston cream pie is also a very popular American cake. There are several variants of this cake. It consists of a 2-layer cake covered with a generous dose of custard. The cake uses the same recipe base as the hot milk cake. Since then, it has been revisited and made into cupcakes and donuts. Since December 12, 1996, the Boston cream pie is the official dessert of Massachusetts.
The variants of hot milk cake around the world
Of course, when we think of a milk cake, the one that usually comes to mind is the tres leches cake. It is a traditional Central American dessert that consists of three different types of milk: whole milk, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk.
The first sponge cake recipe was written in 1615 by an English poet, Gervase Marckam, in his book The English Huswife. But this sponge cake recipe gave a crunchier cake than the one we know today: it was more like current cookies. It is the sponge cake or biscuit that come closest to the hot milk cake.
The Victoria sponge cake is also a cousin of the hot milk cake. It comes from England and does not contain milk. This Genoese cake refers to Queen Victoria and was once a staple of afternoon tea in the court. Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, a favorite of Queen Victoria, is behind this recipe. Like the hot milk cake, it is a two-layer cake: raspberry jam or vanilla cream is usually inserted between the layers of the sponge cake.
We invite you to try this recipe. It is simple, fast and will enhance your Sunday meals or accompany your afternoon tea. And if you’re looking for a simple but not too dry cake, you will love this one!
- 2 cups flour
- 1¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup whole milk
- 6 tablespoons butter , cut into small pieces
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons strong coffee
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups icing sugar (approximately)
Preheat the oven to 350 F / 170 C.
- Sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
Line a spring form pan (8-inch / 20 cm diameter), with a minimum depth of 2 inches (5 cm), with parchment paper.
- Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until very hot but not boiling. Then add the vanilla extract.
- While the milk is cooking, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and salt together until they have tripled in volume (about 4 minutes).
- Gradually add the oil and beat slowly until completely incorporated.
Gently add the flour to the egg and sugar mixture in three parts and gently fold in with a spatula. Do not mix too much as the cake would become dense.
- Add the hot milk and butter into the dough and mix gently with a spatula until they are completely incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the springform pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
- Take the cake out of the oven.
- Unmold on a rack.
- 15 minutes later, gently remove the parchment paper and allow to cool.
- One hour before baking the cake, get the butter out of the refrigerator so it reaches the ideal temperature.
- Cream the butter with a whisk.
- Add cocoa and the liquids alternately.
- Then add the icing sugar gradually and stop as soon as you obtain a consistency that is easy to spread even if all the icing sugar has not been used.
- Spread on the baked hot milk cake.