Hot milk cake occupies the coveted intersection in the Venn diagram of pound cake (tender, buttery) and sponge cake (light, airy). Here’s how it works: When whole eggs and sugar are whipped to a froth without being heated first, they form a voluminous but somewhat fragile foam (like a bubble bath). Adding scalding hot milk (with a temperature around 180°) begins to ever so gently cook the eggs, strengthening their proteins so the foam remains stable without collapsing.
A Cake for the Project Baker
PB&J Dome Cake
The dome cake is the It girl of cakes; she’s completely unique and impeccably styled, and she has likely showed up on your social feed. Always wondered how to make one? It’s by no means a piece of cake, but if you like an artful project (this one involves stacking layers of varying-size cakes) and obsessing over details, follow along. It’s glued together with a whipped peanut butter filling and finished with a strawberry cream; we promise it’s worth the elbow grease.
A Cake to Feed a Crowd
Carrot Sheet Cake With Cream Cheese Whip
Making carrot cake is all fun and games until you break a sweat and shred a knuckle grating all those carrots. Taking a page from Brazilian bolo de cenoura, this sheet cake blends the vegetable right into the batter instead, resulting in a sunset orange treat, softly squidgy from the purée and remarkably easy to make. Chunks of chewy dried pineapple and candied ginger stand in for raisins while the cream cheese frosting is light and airy, a mousse-like delicacy. Baked in a 13×9″ pan, this cake is begging to be toted to a spring picnic in the park.
Please Use the Flour We Call for in the Recipe
Annoying but true: The recipes in this story perform best with bleached all-purpose and cake flours. Let us explain why.
Cake flour: With its low-protein content (5%–8%) and extra-fine particle size, cake flour bakes up into the most delicate, tall, and tight-crumbed cake. It can absorb more liquid and sugar than all-purpose flour, resulting in velvety cakes that keep well for longer. High-ratio cakes (with a high percentage of sugar to flour) like the confetti cake or fragile cakes like chiffon really benefit from exclusively using cake flour. The common substitute of all-purpose flour cut with cornstarch lacks the chemical structure to perform as well as real cake flour. Just buy the box. You’re worth it.
Bleached flour: Some flours tout the fact that they are unbleached as a point of pride. Though there are some advantages, bleached flour has some selling points too. Bleaching or chlorinating flour (no, it’s not the same as the bottle under your sink) alters its starch granules and pH, so fat and sugar disperse more efficiently and evenly. The decreased pH prevents cakes from browning too much and too fast. And cakes made with bleached flour generally rise higher than those made with unbleached.