If Sponge Cake Seems Intimidating, Go With This Much-Easier Variation

No dessert recipe offers a more tender and light texture than a tried-and-true sponge cake. The secret to this airy dish is a batter that's lightened by folding in whipped egg whites, but it's also its most high-maintenance feature. Separating eggs and whipping egg whites is a hassle and a half, not to mention tricky to execute. But what if we told you there's a confection that promises the same sponge-like qualities with half the effort? Meet the hot milk cake, a dessert with a divinely tender crumb and an incredibly easy method. 

While many pastries use cream butter and sugar or whipped egg whites to incorporate air, the hot milk cake forgoes both by keeping the eggs whole and melting down the butter. This recipe also whips whole eggs with sugar until it reaches the ribbon stage. The "hot milk" part of its name refers to the heating and melting of the butter and milk together, either on the stovetop or microwave, before being added to the ribboned eggs. Even though there's no egg separation, foamed whites, or folding, you'll get a similar sponge-cake-like consistency thanks to the air beaten into the whole eggs. 

How to make hot milk cake at home

Hot milk cake begins with classic ingredients — sugar, flour, salt, chemical leavening, eggs, whole milk, and butter. First, you'll heat your milk and butter together until it melts completely. You'll want this to cool slightly, so it doesn't curdle the egg mixture in the near future, but not cool completely. Next, you'll combine the sugar and eggs in a bowl and mix with whisk attachments or egg beaters for five to six minutes, until the mixture turns pale yellow and falls in a slow ribbon. 

The ribbon should sit on top of the batter at first before fading after a few seconds, indicating peak volume. You'll then add in the other liquid ingredients, like vanilla extract and the milk mixture. Finally, you'll sift in or whisk in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Keep a light hand as you mix, so you don't accidentally knock out the air in your ribboned eggs. From there, you'll bake the cake in a 9x13 or as a layer cake and decorate as desired. 

The mild sweet flavor and delicate crumb of the confection make it a good option for a Victoria sponge-style cake, paired with whipped cream, jam, and fresh fruit. It can also be made with a simple dusting of powdered sugar and be enjoyed as an afternoon snack. Or even try topping it with just chocolate frosting — the options are truly endless.