Condensed Milk Cake. If pound cake and sponge cake had a baby, this would be it! Only 6 ingredients! Soft, yet firm with a springy texture and a beautifully rich vanilla flavour. Perfect as a snack cake or as the base for strawberry shortcake, Victoria sandwich cake, and especially trifles.
My path to this simple but delicious cake was definitely not a straight line. In fact it took several attempts to perfect my version of this recipe.
It all began with what I often call the “Costco effect”. That’s when you buy more of an ingredient than you really need, then go in search of ways to use the surplus.
That was just the case, when doing a post Christmas cupboard cleaning I discovered several cans of sweetened condensed milk. What to do with them?
There are, of course, many cookies & treats already on this site using this ingredient. From Moose Farts to No Bake Strawberry Chiffon Squares and even Turtle Fudge, there are no shortage of ideas to be found.
However, this time I wanted to try it in a cake batter. I felt the concentration of rich milky flavour would lend itself well to a simple vanilla cake.
Plenty of inspiration for a condensed milk cake.
It turns out this was not an original idea. As soon as I searched it online, lots of recipes popped up but they all seemed to be pretty much the same.
They all used the same 5 ingredients; flour, baking powder, eggs, butter and a can of sweetened condensed milk. I thought it was odd that there was no vanilla extract in the recipe but I went ahead and made it as it was written.
The cake turned out just fine but I thought it could be a little lighter in texture and a little less dark on the outside. I also missed the addition of vanilla extract.
I always say vanilla extract is to baking what salt is to cooking. It’s very much missed when not present.
The next attempt included the vanilla and bumped up the baking powder as well as increasing the butter just a little. I also reduced the oven temperature a little.
This time I took the cake out too early and there was a little uncooked portion at the centre top of the cake. Back to the drawing board!
Third time’s the charm? Nope.
The third attempt seemed to be on track, but when I tested it it needed a few more minutes in the oven. I set the timer for 5 more minutes and went back to my desk upstairs.
The trouble there was that I was alone in the house and forgot the timer! I normally use 2 timers, one on the stove and one on my phone, just to be safe. However I forgot the phone timer and did not hear the kitchen timer at all from upstairs.
Enter my son, Noah, who, when returning home shouted up the stairs, “There’s a timer going off in the kitchen!!” I will spare you the content of my colourful exclamations of frustration as I descended the stairs!
It turns out the timer had been going off for 20 minutes, meaning I actually over baked the cake, almost to the point of burning it. Yes, even experienced bakers like me can have the occasional disaster.
Undeterred, I immediately set out to try it again and, well, apparently the 4th time is now the charm. This time I got it just right.
A very versatile condensed milk cake.
As soon as I stuck my fork into it, I immediately saw the possibilities for this recipe. we served it with berries and whipped cream for a delicious dessert at short notice.
In fact, the cake is perfect just on its own as a snack cake. The firm texture means that pieces can be handheld and eaten on their own. Great for adding to packed lunches or even picnic baskets!
I also immediately thought that it would be a good base for strawberry shortcake or any fruit shortcake really. Cut it in 2 layers and add your favourite jam in the middle for an outstanding Victoria Sandwich Cake too.
The firm springy texture seems ideal too for all sorts of trifles. (See short video in the recipe below.) The cake seems just made for absorbing fruit juices, syrups, or sherry.
I can’t wait to try that. I’ve never met a trifle I didn’t love!
This really is a must-try recipe. It’s so quick, easy, versatile and delicious, you’re sure to find yourself coming back to it again and again.