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Hot Milk Sponge Cake Layers

Sponge cakes belong to the foam cake family which rely on beaten eggs for volume and structure.  Angel food cakes, chiffon cakes, genoise cakes and hot milk sponge cakes all fall under this umbrella, yet each one of them differs in terms of ingredients and recipe technique.  Closely related to the European genoise cake, hot milk sponge cakes, as the name implies, have the addition of heated milk and a little butter which result in a very light & tender crumb.  

Whole eggs and sugar are whipped until thick and doubled in volume and are then combined with the lightest of cake flours (with a bit of leavening) and some hot milk which has been infused with extracts & some melted butter.  Poured into layer cake pans or sheet pans, the cakes come out golden and spongy, light and quite delicious.  Hot milk sponge cake layers are classic in Boston Cream Pies, but because of their tender quality, they can be used any number of ways.  They can be made into jelly rolls, petit fours or even the famous Tres Leches Cake.  

Hot Milk Cake Sponge Layers

It’s worth having this type of cake in your baking repertoire if you like baking all types of cakes.  The ingredients are few and the technique is quite simple.  The recipe makes two 9” round layers which can be stacked and iced together, but they do fine on their own as single layers dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  Why don’t we bake some hot milk sponge cakes now?

Hot Milk Sponge Cake Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups {275 g.} cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons {12.5 ml.} baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon {1.25 ml.} fine sea salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups {325 g.} granulated sugar
  • 1 cup {240 ml.} milk
  • 1 teaspoon {5 ml.} pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon {1.25 ml} pure almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons {28 g.} unsalted butter

Yield: two 9" round cake layers
Equipment: two 9x2" round cake pans, parchment paper

Center Oven Rack
Preheat oven to 350° F (177°C)

Butter two 9x2” round cake layer pans and line them with parchment rounds.  Sprinkle some flour (not from the measured ingredients) into the pans and distribute evenly by tapping the pans.  Tap out any excess.  You can also spray the pans with nonstick cooking spray (line with parchment anyway).  

In a medium sized bowl, sift the cake flour, baking powder and fine sea salt through a fine mesh sieve.  Keep the ingredients near your mixer.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the whole eggs on medium speed to break them up.  Increase the speed to medium-high and begin to slowly drizzle in the granulated sugar.  Continue beating until the mixture thickens and doubles in volume, about 5 minutes.  The sugar/egg mixture will lighten and thicken considerably.

While the eggs and sugar are beating, add the milk, vanilla extract, almond extract and unsalted butter into a small saucepan.  Heat this over medium heat until just under the boiling point; the butter should be completely melted.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  

Increase the speed to medium-low and add the hot milk mixture in a steady stream.  Don’t overbeat.  Mix only until combined.

Remove the bowl and attachment and quickly divide the batter evenly between the two round cake pans.

Pop the cakes into the preheated oven
and bake for 25-30 minutes.

The cakes should spring back when lightly touched on top and have golden tops (the cakes should also begin to pull away from the sides when removed from the oven).  Don’t open the oven before the first 25 minutes or you risk having the cakes collapse in the center.  

Set the cakes in their pans on cooling racks and let them rest for 10 minutes.  You can then gently remove them from the pans by inverting them onto the cooling racks.  Remove the pieces of parchment and let the layers cool completely.

They can be iced as desired.  If you won’t be using them for a few hours, wrap them in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out (make sure they are completely cooled though).  They can also be frozen if wrapped very well in zip top bags (all air removed to prevent ice crystals) for up to a few weeks: no more than one month. 

Whether you decide to make the layers into a Boston Cream Pie or not, remember to use a high quality butter, fresh organic-free range eggs and some delicious organic milk for the best possible flavor.  The cakes can be covered in a rich ganache for something simple or they can be swathed in a classic buttercream or some whipped cream for a special dessert.  Try dousing the layers with some Grand Marnier, Kahlua or amaretto if you feel like it.  Although the layers are very light and tender, they are sturdy enough for stacking or splitting in half.  You can fill these layers with a citrus curd, some tasty pastry cream or some fresh fruit.  Get creative and make these hot milk sponge cake layers your own.  Happy Baking!


  1. Hi David,
    This cake looks devine. Can you use White Lily flour if yu do not have cake flour> Thanks for posting it. Martha

  2. Hi Martha! You can certainly have success with this cake if you use White Lily Flour. As long as you use their bleached all-purpose flour you should be OK. Don't substitute with the 'self-rising' flour. I hope you like it!


  3. Does this cake taste dry?

    1. This cake is not a moist cake, so yes, it is on the drier side. It's like a genoise.


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