My partner, Joan, is Midwestern girl from Brown Deer, Wisconsin… a northern suburb of Milwaukee. During many summer vacations Joan stayed on her aunt and uncle’s dairy farm about an hour west of Madison. The Lepeska farm has been in the family nearly 150 years. It was a family tradition to use lots of dairy products in meal preparation… from rich and wonderful macaroni and cheese to one of Joan’s favorite desserts… her mother’s Hot Milk Cake. I wasn’t really sure whether the cake was really as good as Joan remembered or whether she thought it was so good because she and her mom spent time together making it. Either way, however, it was a moot point… that Hot Milk Cake recipe was lost to a bygone era.
Now it just so happens that Joan has a big birthday coming up, so I thought I’d try to quietly recreate that Hot Milk Cake to surprise her. I turned to all my trusty sources and a few of Joan’s family members, each giving me their recollections of what they thought the recipe might have been. I guess my secretive efforts were discovered because I when came into the test kitchen one afternoon there stood Joan—with flour on her nose (and everywhere else)—holding up the luscious cake of her youth. She said she saw the recipe peeking out of a folder on my desk and she just had to try it. As she pulled the cake pan from the oven she stated confidently that it looked like the original, smelled like the original and after cutting herself a giant piece declared it was indeed the original. I must admit—it was perfect in its simplicity.
While Joan’s family is in the dairy business we’re in the chocolate business. So we decided to see if we could in enrich her mother’s Hot Milk Cake recipe with the addition of a little chocolate. After a couple of tests we came up with what everyone thought was a winner.
Either cake—without or without chocolate—can be enjoyed with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar or with or without frosting. I don’t think anyone would say one was any better than the other—after all it’s hard to improve on perfection. To my taste they are different but equally scrumptious.
I’ve appended these two recipes to our Choclatique recipe collection. Try them both and let me know what you think.