Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hot Milk Cake

I fulfilled a week-long yen for Hot Milk Cake this evening, to the delight of my children. Once the cake was in the oven I had a crisis that lasted several agonizing moments over whether to embellish it or not. Hot Milk Cake is very plain indeed, and cries out for something sweet and sticky on top, but a hunk of it cold from the fridge and unadorned first thing of a morning is oddly satisfying. There is just a hint of sharpness in the flavor that is muffled by the sweet and sticky. However, I went with the embellishment, which decision occasioned further agonizing; should I go for a thick, fudgy smear, a la Berger Cookies, or the old standby 7 Minute Frosting? What about a thin glaze of simmered and cooled raspberry jam, sprinkled with powdered sugar? Tempting, very tempting. But, gooey toasted coconut frosting won out in the end. I almost regret the jam and sugar, but, I do adore gooey coconutty frosting. Half of each of the finalists would’ve been good too. My recipe:

Hot Milk Cake

This makes a 9 x 13 cake – halve the recipe for a 9” square


3 T butter

1 cup milk

4 lg eggs

2 cups sugar

1t vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

¾ t salt

2t baking powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease pan (or spray with baking spray) pretty generously. Heat milk and butter together until butter is melted and milk is just steaming. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, in mixer bowl, beat eggs together with sugar until light and fluffy and increased in volume – several minutes at medium speed. Mix in vanilla. In separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder with a whisk until well combined. Alternately fold flour mixture and milk mixture to the eggs, beginning and ending with the flour. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake about 30 – 40 minutes until ‘springy’ – a cake tester should come out with a few moist crumbs and the top should be golden with a few lt brown spots. Allow cake to cool if using jam or 7 minute frosting, but if making a gooey coconut frosting, frost while hot and pop under the broiler to toast the coconut – be careful not to let it burn!

Gooey Coconut Frosting

1 stick + 2T butter

1/3 to ½ cup brown sugar

2-4 T milk or cream

1 ½ cups coconut (the sweetened, flaked kind)

½ cup walnut pieces (optional)

Heat the butter and sugar to boiling over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Add the milk or cream, and bring back to a simmer. Turn heat off and stir in coconut and walnuts, if using. Spread over cake while still hot, then pop under the broiler. Check frequently – broilers vary – and remove when the coconut is nicely toasted and the frosting is bubbly. This takes my broiler about 4 minutes, but seriously, rely on your instincts and sense of smell here, not on the recipe! Devour while still warm!

Or, allow cake to cool while you heat to simmering 1/3 cup of your favorite jam or jelly. When jelly is cool but still liquid, spread it evenly over the cake with a soft brush. When completely cool, dust artfully with powdered sugar.

Dinner tonight: spaghetti carbonara, wilted spinach salad

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