Here is a vintage cake that has risen up to the top of my pile of go-to coffee/Bundt cakes: the hot milk cake. It is like a light pound cake, or perhaps it can be called a sponge cake alternative. The key to success comes from melted butter mixed in hot milk. When joined with the thick cake batter, a soupy disaster is born, or so it seems. But then, in the oven, magic happens and a nicely risen, delicious, moist cake emerges. It appears that this cake dates back to at least the early 1900s, at least according to the Chicago Tribune’s research from a few years ago. The ingenuity of the home bakers of the past never ceases to amaze me. Pour hot milk into a flour/baking powder/egg mixture? It wouldn’t have ever crossed my mind.
This really is a gem of a recipe, especially if you like pure and simple lemon cakes like I do. This makes a Bundt cake, but also 2 loaf cakes. From the various vintage recipes I’ve read, it looks like this recipe would be perfect for making two 9-inch cakes in case you’d like to a frosted layer cake instead.
[Below is the recipe. Step-by-step illustrated instructions follow the recipe.]
Step-by-Step Illustrated Instructions
Preheat the oven and get a large Bundt pan (10″) or 2 loaf pans ready by greasing and flouring. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder so the mixture is ready to go when you get to that step. You need 4 eggs for this recipe, so might as well get those eggs cracked and ready to go up front.
You also need the grated lemon zest of 2 medium lemons.
Start heating the milk with butter. Heat only until the butter has melted. Don’t bring the mixture to a boil!
Take the pot off the heat and go back to making the batter. You want to beat the whole eggs with sugar until light and then gradually add in a flour-baking powder-salt mixture.
Then add in vanilla extract and lemon zest.
The batter is pretty thick, but that’s OK. See how the wide ribbons fall off the paddle below.
Now it’s time to pour the hot milk-butter mixture in a slow and steady stream while the mixer is running.
The batter will go from thick to thin. It’s important to scrape the sides of the bowl at least once to ensure that the milk is fully incorporated into the batter. Quickly pour the batter into the pan(s). As you can see, the pan is about 3/4 filled with batter.
When baked, it looks like a pound cake with a crack around the top.
After 10 minutes, turn the cake out onto a wire rack and let it cool completely before dusting with confectioners sugar or drizzling with a lemony glaze.
This time around, I wanted to glaze the cake, so here is how that went. Very simple! I fork blended confectioners sugar with some lemon juice from the lemons I zested.
Then I spooned the glaze over the cake. If the glaze is too thin and immediately disappears on the cake, blend in some more confectioners sugar to correct the consistency of the glaze. It’s a trial and error kind of thing.
Then to make the cake prettier and more lemony, I grated the zest of another lemon and mixed the zest with about a tablespoon of granulated sugar.
I then sprinkled the mixture over the top of the cake.
A slice of a lemon cake always hits the spot!
While an easy cake to make, it is a sure-fire winner!