Hot Milk Cake

Scalded milk produces a moist texture in this simple dessert, an ivory-hued cake that’s so straightforward it’s often referred to, even in vintage cookbooks, as “old-fashioned.” Made right, as it is at Dr. Ho’s in North Garden, Virginia, with a fluffy white crumb and an uncomplicated buttercream frosting, it is tender and egg-rich—a mother’s-hug Dixie treat. This recipe first appeared in our October 2014 issue with the story Best of the Blue Ridge.

Hot Milk Cake Hot Milk Cake
Scalded milk produces a moist crumb in this simple yet stunning cake from Dr. Ho's Humble Pie in North Garden, Virginia.
Yield: serves 10-12


  • 1 14 cups whole milk
  • 2 12 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 12 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 lb. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 (1-lb.) box confectioners’ sugar


  1. Heat oven to 325°. Bring 1 cup milk to a simmer in a 1-qt. saucepan; remove from heat and add 2 tbsp. vanilla. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. In another bowl, and using an electric hand mixer, beat 34 lb. butter and the sugar until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. With the motor running, slowly add dry ingredients until combined. Drizzle in milk mixture until a smooth batter forms. Pour batter into a greased 9″-round, 2 12“-deep cake pan; bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 1–1 12 hours. Let cool slightly, then invert onto a wire rack; let cool completely and transfer to a cake stand.
  2. Using an electric hand mixer with clean beaters, beat remaining milk, vanilla, and butter in a bowl until combined. With the motor running, slowly add confectioners’ sugar until a smooth frosting forms; spread evenly over cake. Chill 20 minutes before serving.