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Basic Hot Milk Cake Recipe from the 1940s

Updated on March 22, 2015
End Results: Hot Milk Cake.
End Results: Hot Milk Cake. | Source

During the 1940’s food was rationed due to World War II. Extravagant cakes or pies that required sugar and some type of fat were considered to be inappropriate in daily living. Due to sugar rationing, many desserts were made with brown sugar, maple syrup, honey or molasses. There were guides published on how to make these replacements and have a delicious dessert. Finding simple recipes that could be used multiple ways was a way of life.

Hot milk cake was one of those recipes. It is a versatile cake that can be used in many fruit desserts or layered with puddings. My grandmother explained that she made this cake often in the text she sent me. Yes, my grandmother, who is in her 90’s, sends me recipes via text messages. This was followed by a text for Ice Box Cake that just happens to use a hot milk cake as its base. I headed for the kitchen and began to bake.

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 35 min
Ready in: 50 min
Yields: 12 servings
Hot Milk Cake Ingredients.
Hot Milk Cake Ingredients. | Source


  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

Rate This Recipe

4.3 stars from 10 ratings of Hot Milk Cake

Also Needed

  • Small Saucepan
  • A Bowl for Dry Ingredients
  • Cake Tester or Toothpick
  • Glass Baking Pan 11x7x1.5 (2 quart)
  • Wax Paper
  • Scissors
  • Spatula

Scoring Wax Paper for Dish Lining.
Scoring Wax Paper for Dish Lining. | Source
Wax Paper Lining in Dish.
Wax Paper Lining in Dish. | Source

Set the Oven and Prep the Baking Dish

Before you begin mixing the cake batter, set the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Line the baking dish with wax paper. The easiest way to make sure the wax paper fits is a trick taught to me from my mother and grandmother.

  • Flip the dish over. Cut off a piece of wax paper from the roll as wide as the pan.
  • Take the scissors and score the waxed paper all around the bottom edge of the pan.
  • Cut the wax paper with apair of scissors just to the left side of the line you just made.
  • Flip the pan, insert wax paper.

The wax paper will not hurt your cake and is a better way of making sure the cake does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Greasing the pan bottom with butter,shortening, or Pam will work, but for older recipes I find the wax paper method a better solution. The reason for this is due to butter/shortening crisping the bottom of the cake and when these recipes were conceived, there was no Pam. If butter/shortening is used, sprinkle flour on the greased surface to try to cut down on the crispness of the bottom.

Separate Bowl With Flour Mixture.
Separate Bowl With Flour Mixture. | Source
Milk and Butter Ready for Heating.
Milk and Butter Ready for Heating. | Source
Pouring in the Batter.
Pouring in the Batter. | Source
Bubbly Batter in the Oven.
Bubbly Batter in the Oven. | Source


  1. Mix the Flour, Baking Powder, and Salt together in a bowl. You can use a fork to blend these items. Most flour these days comes sifted, so you will not need to sift these. Put aside.
  2. In your mixing bowl, put in the 2 eggs. Beat them for about 2 minutes or until fluffy.
  3. Add in the 1 cup of sugar to the eggs. Blend these ingredients together. They should be very creamy. It takes about 3 minutes of mixing on medium speed to get this consistency.
  4. Heat the milk and butter in a small pan. You want the milk to be hot and the butter melted. Stir with a spoon so milk does not burn to bottom of pan. There should be some steam rising from the pan indicating milk is hot enough. Remove pan from heat. This should only take 2 to 3 minutes depending on your pan size. **You can also microwave these two items together for 40 seconds in a glass Pyrex measuring cup. You should do this in 15 to 20 second intervals to ensure you do not overheat it. Overheated milk will be thick due to the water being heated off.
  5. Combine the flour mix with the sugar and eggs. Mix on low speed. Combine these together until the batter begins to thicken. Do not add all of the flour in at once. Doing so tends to make a dust cloud when the beaters begin to mix.
  6. Add in the Butter & Hot Milk. Mix on low speed till the batter thins out and you can see many air bubbles. About 2 minutes.
  7. Pour batter into lined baking dish. Use a spatula to get all of the batter out of the mixing bowl. Make sure batter is evenly spread throughout the pan for a nice flat top.
  8. Place pan in center of oven. Bake for 35 minutes. Insert toothpick or cake tester to make sure center is cooked. It should be golden brown on the top. If not ready, continue to bake while checking in 5 minute intervals.
  9. Remove cake from oven and let it cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, it is ready to use in any recipe you have.

Hot Milk Cake Ideas

There are many things that can be done with this basic, fluffy cake. Hot milk cake can replace any recipe that calls for a sponge or pound cake.

  • You can slice the cake in half, lengthwise, spread a layer of your favorite pudding between the two layers of cake and top it off with an icing layer of whipped cream. Serve chilled.
  • Hot Milk Cake makes a delicious base for strawberry shortcake.
  • Other recipes from the 1940s suggest slicing the cake in half lengthwise. Remove the top portion, spread a thick layer of your favorite preserve, placing the top layer back on. Cut into squares and serving with a dollop of fresh made whipped cream or small scoop of ice cream.
  • Cut into squares, drizzle a bit of chocolate fudge sauce over the topand serve while still warm from the fudge topping.

If you have any questions on how to make this recipe, please leave them below in the comment section.

Enjoy Baking!

© 2013 Susan McLeish


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    • profile image

      Carol Stafford 

      19 months ago

      Thanks for the hot milk cake recipe. My mom used to make this cake for my dad and us 6 kids. She had the recipe committed to memory. They were married in 1941. For years I’ve tried to find this recipe to make myself a hot milk cake. Now I can! Thanks for sharing.

    • StoneCircle profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan McLeish 

      6 years ago from Rindge, NH

      WhatToCook: Now that I have made this, I keep trying new toppings with it. It has become quite the request item from family and friends. This recipe is an oldie but goodie, even today!

    • WhatToCook profile image


      6 years ago from Springfield, MO

      I love this cake, my grandmother made one very close to this, that she always had on hand if someone came over for a visit. Thanks for sharing it.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great recipe, looks like this would be fun to make and serve with fresh berries and whipped cream

    • StoneCircle profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan McLeish 

      6 years ago from Rindge, NH

      Glad you enjoyed it Wabash Annie. Both of my grandmothers never stopped improvising after the war. Somehow it became a way of cooking.

    • wabash annie profile image

      wabash annie 

      6 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      What an interesting recipe ... can't wait to try it. I remember rationing very well and how my mother improvised. Thanks for this recipe!

    • StoneCircle profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan McLeish 

      6 years ago from Rindge, NH

      I have to admit Ceres that I am sometimes hesitant to open up an email from my grandmother. It usually means a trip to the store for ingredients. Glad you enjoy the photos that are with the recipe. Sometimes a visual helps explain the text.

    • Ceres Schwarz profile image

      Ceres Schwarz 

      6 years ago

      Wow this recipe looks really good. The image of the hot milk cake looks delicious and tasty. Now I want to try some. Your other images look great and really help to show how to make this recipe alongside the written instructions. I also thought it was cool how you receive recipes from your grandmother via text messages.


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