Malted Milk Cake: retro relevance

The idea of a malted milk cake has been on my mind for a while now, but it wasn’t coming together. Things started clicking when my friend Pat Clark mentioned memories of  hot milk cake.  She grew up in a large Southern family and fondly recalls her mom’s cake as a childhood favorite of all of her brothers and sisters.

After a little preliminary research the hot milk cake began to look even more intriguing.  This no-frills sweet has a rich history spanning back to the Depression era, when the most basic staples were hard to come by. Here, the clever use of sugar manages to transform a few simple ingredients into a memorable cake with impressive texture, volume, and flavor.  hot milk cake dusted

Take a generous amount of sugar, whip it with eggs until a voluminous mass forms, add a bit of flour, the hot malted milk, and you’ve got the basis of light, high flavored cake that’s not cloyingly sweet—and requires no frosting.

Pairing malted milk with the hot milk cake is a natural combination, injecting an inspired caramel nuance into this vibrantly moist cake and giving it a relevant retro touch. Bake it all in a bundt pan or other pretty mold, a dusting of confectioners’ sugar across the top is all that is necessary to make it unforgettable. If you must, serve it with a caramel glaze or drizzle.

Vanilla Malted Milk Cake

1/2 cup butter
1 cup milk
½ cup malted milk, such as Carnations powdered
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Prepare a bundt or 9”x 13” pan: spray with non-stick spray and dust with flour.  Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.  Combine the malted milk, the milk, and the vanilla and stir into the butter; heat until small bubbles form around the outside of the pan and the mixture is very hot but not boiling. Reduce heat to low.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine eggs and sugar and beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until light, thick, and tripled in volume.  On low, slowly add the hot milk mixture, mixing until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in two batches, mixing after each addition until just incorporated.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake bundt pan for 1 hour, checking 5 minutes prior to baking end time;  9”x 13” pan 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, with a few crumbs attached. Do not over bake.
  5. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack or serving plate to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.  Serves 12

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