May is National Strawberry month, and on May 21 we celebrate National Strawberries and Cream Day, bringing together two favorites: fresh ripe strawberries and homemade whipped cream. While that alone makes a divine dessert, let’s add a mildly sweet, vanilla-fragranced cake, and we’ve just won at life. This cake is a classic Great Depression-era recipe called Hot Milk Cake. It’s a buttery sponge cake made with scalded milk and has a characteristic fine-grained texture, like pound cake.
Depression-era recipes were often created out of necessity due to a lack of ingredients and might fall in the shadow of their pre- and post-depression counterparts. But this original recipe holds its own against any vanilla cake recipe. I’ve included an optional glaze to top the cake; it adds another layer of flavor, but it’s perfectly delicious without it.
HOT MILK CAKE WITH STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM
2 pounds of strawberries
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
To make glaze:
1½ cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The whipped cream:
1½ cups heavy cream, chilled
3 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto liquor (optional)
1. Hull and quarter the strawberries; mix them with sugar and refrigerate.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F, and grease and flour a standard Bundt pan (or two 8-inch round pans, or a 9 by 13 baking pan). In a large bowl or mixer, cream together eggs and sugar until lightened in color, 3-5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, warm the milk and butter until butter has melted and bubbles start to form around the edge of the saucepan – but don’t bring to a full boil. When small bubbles appear, remove from heat. While beating continuously, slowly pour hot milk into egg mixture until incorporated. (Do this gradually so you don’t scramble the eggs. That makes no one happy.) Add the vanilla extract.
4. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, then gradually mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Pour batter into your Bundt pan, and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
5. While the cake is baking, place a metal bowl and beaters in the freezer to prepare to whip the cream. If you choose to add the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract.
6. Remove cake from oven and let cool 10 minutes, then invert onto serving platter. If using the glaze, drizzle it over the top of cake and let set up.
7. Mix the whipped cream ingredients in the chilled metal bowl and beat until soft peaks form. To serve: Pile the cake high with strawberries and whipped cream and face plant right into all that glorious goodness. This light and airy recipe is perfect for all your summer entertaining. Add some blueberries and we have a patriotic dessert for Independence Day. Add sliced peaches later in the summer when they’re juicy and ripe for late summer perfection. You can cut the cake into cubes and layer the ingredients in a trifle bowl for a spectacular presentation. Or make picnic-perfect individual portions in mason jars for travel.
While National Strawberries and Cream Day is Saturday, no matter how, when or why; you can’t beat strawberries and cream over hot milk cake.
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” at www.divasonadime.com. © 2022 King Features Synd., Inc.