caribbean milk cake

A couple months ago while poking around the internet for Puerto Rican recipes (travel is inspiring!), I came across a recipe for a simple sweetened condensed milk cake. I made it once, just as the recipe said, dusting the top with powdered sugar and serving it with a lemon blueberry sauce (the recipe hadn’t said to do that, though) and whipped cream.

Since then, there have been a slew of variations:
*I’ve quadrupled the lime zest, and swapped out the lime juice for rum.
*I’ve poked holes all over the top of the baked cake and then doused it with a hot butter-and-rum sauce, spiked with lime.
*I’ve made it in layers, splitting each of the layers in half and filling with lemon curd. Then, between the two layers, a strawberry cream cheese filling (I think? There have been so many cakes, I’m having trouble remembering.) The sides and top I iced with a butter cream. That version went to our homeless shelter and was, I heard later, a smash hit, so…
*I made it again, this time icing it with some leftover cream cheese frosting, I think.
*Most recently, I’ve soaked the entire thing with the hot rum-lime sauce and then split it in half and filled with lemon curd and (leftover, curdled — what in the world?) creamy fluff frosting.

In other words, it’s high time I share the recipe!

Here, I’m giving the recipe to you straight. As written, it’s a deliciously simple yellow cake, less fluffy than some — I think it’s the condensed milk that gives it more heft — and with subtle hints of lime and nutmeg. From there, you can take it in any direction.

Caribbean Milk Cake
Adapted from Imma’s blog, Immaculate Bites.

The absence of salt is not a typo.

2½ sticks butter
¾ cup sugar
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon rum or lime juice
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons lime zest (about four limes)

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the condensed milk and beat well. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and rum. Add the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and zest and stir until combined.

Pour the batter into a greased ten-inch springform pan and bake at 325 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar and serving with whipped cream and berries.

*For a layer cake, divide batter between three, greased and lined, 8-inch pans.
*Split layers and fill with lemon or lime curd.
*Pour a hot butter-rum sauce over the baked cake…

Butter Rum Sauce
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup rum
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup fresh lime juice, optional

Combine the butter, sugar, salt, and rum in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently boil the sauce for at least five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla (and/or the lime juice).

Let the cake cool for ten minutes and then, using some sort of pokey thing, like the slender end of a chopstick, jab holes all over the cake, making sure to reach the bottom of the pan. Drizzle the sauce slowly over the cake, using a spoon or spatula to evenly distribute the sauce, if needed. Cool completely.

(Once when I was just dousing an 8-inch cake, I first flipped the cake out of the pan, poured some sauce into the bottom of the pan, and then returned the cake to the pan before poking the holes, effectively saturating the cake with flavor from both top and bottom.)

This same time, years previous: a trick for cooking pasta, the quotidian (4.4.16), cup cheese, chickpeas with spinach, spinach cheese crepes.

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