Hot Milk Cake

The sweet secret to this cozy dessert lies in its old-fashioned technique.

  • Serves

    serves 10-12

  • Cook

    3 hours


By SAVEUR Editors

Updated on September 26, 2021

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 Humble Pie in North Garden, Virginia—it is tender and egg-rich, with a fluffy white crumb and an uncomplicated buttercream frosting.

Featured in: "Best of the Blue Ridge.":


  • 1 14 cups whole milk, divided
  • 2 tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. vanilla extract, divided
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 12 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 lb. unsalted butter, softened, divided, plus more for greasing
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 lb. confectioners' sugar


Step 1

Preheat the oven to 325°F and lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan.

Step 2

In a small pot, bring 1 cup milk to a simmer; remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. In a second medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 3⁄4 pound (3 sticks) butter and the sugar until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. With the mixer running, slowly add the dry ingredients until combined. Drizzle in the milk mixture until a smooth batter forms. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, transfer to the oven, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 1–11⁄2 hours. Cool slightly, then invert onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Transfer to a cake stand.

Step 3

Using an electric hand mixer with clean beaters, beat the remaining milk, vanilla, and butter in a bowl until combined. With the mixer running, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar until a smooth frosting forms; spread evenly over cake. Chill 20 minutes before serving.

Our Pinterest users know a thing or two about good pastries, and they’ve made their voices heard on their favorite cakes »

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