Hot Milk Cake

If you’re going to have one cake recipe, I would suggest that it be this one.  It’s great in trifle, as a decorated slab cake, cupcakes, and layered.  I’ve even used it for a jellyroll.  It’s got just the right amount of crumb and moistness.  Found in my mom’s original Joy of Cooking, it was the first cake I ever baked, and even now, when I have baked many, many cakes, this recipe gets used the most often.  It makes a lovely unassuming cake for a tiered wedding cake, but is lovely simply split in two, spread with raspberry preserves and dusted with icing sugar.

Click here for printable version.

2 x 8” round layers, 1 – 9” x 13” slab, or a dozen cupcakes.


1½ c flour

1½ t baking powder

½ t salt

¾ c milk

1½ T butter

3 eggs

1½ c sugar

Zest of a lemon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Combine the milk and butter, and heat until the butter has melted but the milk does not boil.  You can use a microwave for this.

Using a stand mixer (or a very strong wrist) beat the eggs until very light, perhaps as long as 4 minutes.

Add the sugar very slowly, beating constantly.

Continue beating for 3 full minutes. This step is critical to a great cake.

Fold the dry ingredients into the egg & sugar mixture.

Next, fold in the milk and butter.  The milk should be hot, don’t let it cool too much.

Finally, fold in the zest.

Bake in prepared pan(s) or in paper-lined muffin tins.

Bake 8” pans for 30 minutes, 9” x 13” for 35 minutes at 350°, and cupcakes will take less time, test at 25 minutes.

Let rest in the pans for 10 minutes, before removing to a rack to cool.

Split into two, ready for filling with lemon curd.

Decorated with Butter Icing.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Peter Davis says:

    Hi, I am a baker who lives in England and am really keen to try making your hot milk cake but I am having difficulty converting the ingredient measurements to metric weights as I don’t fully understand US measures. would it be possible for you to convert for me please.

    1. Hi, Use 120 grams of all-purpose flour per cup (therefore 180 grams for the recipe), 200 grams of granulated sugar per cup (300 grams for the recipe), 225 ml of milk per cup (165 ml for the recipe) and 15 ml = 1 Tablespoon, and 5 ml + 1 teaspoon. Use 21 grams of butter. Hope this helps.

  2. Sam says:

    hi I want to make cupcakes …can I half the recipe/ It might be a bit tricky as there are 3 eggs. How many eggs should I use if I want to half recipe?

    1. Just use two eggs. The batter is very accommodating. My eggs are from our free range hens and usually weigh in about 10 grams bigger than a store bought XL graded egg. So two L or even XL store bought eggs should be just fine.

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