Okay so … I might have lied to you a little bit. This isn’t officially called a “golden milk cake.” Its true name is “hot milk cake.” However, Robert and a few of our friends thought the name “hot milk cake” was a little … let’s just say: off-putting. We brainstormed a bit (while sitting around a table and eating almost the entire cake – THE SIX OF US), and Robert won with his idea of calling it a “golden milk cake.” So that’s what I have for you today.
The name “hot milk cake” comes from the fact that you add hot milk while making the batter. This technique supposedly helps to keep the cake moist while also adding to the flavor. Weird name aside, I love this cake. It reminds me of a pound cake because it has a distinctly rich flavor (more so than a traditional white cake or something), but it has a much lighter crumb than a pound cake. According to good ol’ Wikipedia, it’s traditionally served in a variety of ways, including with mocha frosting, fruit, powdered sugar frosting, or boiled coconut topping. However, in my humble opinion, it doesn’t need much of anything. I’ve been known to just pick up a plain slice and eat it like a hunk of bread.
So why the heck am I sharing this recipe with you today? Good question. This weekend is full of celebrations for my family: tomorrow is my dad’s birthday, and then Sunday is Father’s Day AND my birthday (26!). We almost always make this cake to celebrate my dad’s birthday (and Father’s Day). Since we’re deep into the heart of strawberry season at this time of year, we usually center our birthday dinners or desserts around something that goes well with them. This cake recipe actually comes from my dad’s mom (the grandmother in this post with the diary), so it’s one that he grew up eating, and then I grew up with my mom making it for my dad. As I mentioned above, it doesn’t need much to dress it up, and we serve it simply with strawberries and whipped cream. My dad might suggest that you put butter on it, the way he likes his pound cake. (Does anybody else do this?! He also puts butter on sticky buns ….)
I have no idea where my grandmother acquired this recipe. It’s a very classic cake and according to Saveur, some vintage cookbooks even refer to it as “old-fashioned.” I think I read somewhere that it was a classic Southern cake, but Wikipedia claims that it’s from the Mid-Atlantic area, which includes New Jersey and Pennsylvania, etc. That makes a lot more sense, because I have no idea how my grandmother in Philadelphia would have ended up making a classic Southern cake all the time. In the little bit of poking around on the internet that I did, I couldn’t find a recipe exactly like this version of it, nor could I find two anywhere that were exactly the same. But that’s not surprising, considering how long it’s been around. I’m sure it’s bound to have been adapted and modified from family to family over time. But this is MY family’s version, straight from Ruth Lenton’s recipe box, and there’s no need to mess with it.
Tomorrow I head to the beach with my family for the week, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Last summer Robert and I didn’t stay for the whole week because of our upcoming wedding and honeymoon, so I’m EXTREMELY excited to be going and staying for the entire week. We will be eating this “golden milk cake” tomorrow for my dad’s birthday, and then on Sunday we will be eating chocolate cake with the peanut butter frosting from my peanut butter and jelly cupcakes (so freakin’ good) to celebrate my birthday. Other than that, I plan to spend the week reading some good books while sitting on the beach, working out, making cocktails and eating butter cake (have you guys heard of this stuff?) from our favorite bakery in Ocean City, NJ.
Happy Birthday and Father’s Day to my wonderful dad!
UPDATE: Huge shoutout to Kathryn of London Bakes for adapting this recipe into gluten-free cupcakes with a mascarpone frosting. Yum!
- 2 cups (260 grams) all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- (optional, for serving: whipped cream and strawberries)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease and flour your cake pan. My family makes this in a tube (angel food cake) pan, but you could also use two 8 or 9-inch cake pans.
- Combine the flour and baking powder and then sift together into another medium bowl. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla in a large bowl for a few minutes until light and frothy.
- Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir together gently by hand with a spatula, just until combined. Do not overmix.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the stick of butter. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Slowly pour that mixture into the rest of the batter while mixing lightly. Mix just until combined.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the top is a nice golden brown color and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (If you're using two smaller cake pans, your baking time will be more like 25-35 minutes.)
- Let the cake cool and then flip it out of the pan. Serve with whipped cream and berries, if you so choose. You could also use this cake in a layer cake or pour a glaze over it. Store at room temperature.