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Hot Milk Sponge Cake

Scott Phillips

Servings: 8 to 12

This versatile cake is a great base for other desserts, from a lemony roulade to chocolate-orange trifles to a decadent White Forest cake. It always comes out light and springy, yet sturdy enough to soak up flavorings without disintegrating. Bake it as a thin sheet, a square, or a round, depending on how you’ll be using it later.


  • 4 oz. (3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs.) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into smaller pieces

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 140
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 40
  • Fat (g): 4.5
  • Saturated Fat (g): 2
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1.5
  • Cholesterol (mg): 100
  • Sodium (mg): 80
  • Carbohydrates (g): 20
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 3


  • Choose your pan, depending on whether you’ll be making: a 9×3-inch round springform pan (for layer cakes), an 8×2-inch square cake pan (for trifles), or a 13×18-inch rimmed baking sheet (for roulades); line the bottom of the pan with parchment. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and heat the oven to 350°F for a round or square pan or to 400°F for a baking sheet.
  • Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  • With an electric mixer (hand-held or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), beat the eggs, yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt at high speed until the mixture has tripled in volume and forms a slowly dissolving ribbon when the stopped beater(s) are lifted, 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until very hot but not boiling.
  • Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift one-third of the flour over the eggs. Fold with a large silicone spatula until the flour is blended into the batter. Repeat with two more batches.
  • Pour all of the hot milk mixture over the batter and fold gently with the silicone spatula, scraping the batter up from the bottom of the bowl and rotating the bowl, until the milk is incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly.
  • Bake until the cake is golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes for the round or square cake pans, or 10 to 12 minutes for the baking sheet. Set the pan on a rack to cool. After the cake has cooled completely, run a small knife or offset spatula around the inside of the pan, pressing against the pan to avoid tearing the cake. Invert the pan to remove the cake, and peel off the parchment liner. Turn the cake right side up.

Make Ahead Tips

A cake baked in the round or square pan may be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature for 2 days or frozen up to 3 months.

A sheet cake should be made into a roulade within 24 hours. Otherwise it may dry out and crack when rolled. If you’re not using it right away, wrap it airtight and store at room temperature.


The author prefers Gold Medal flour for this recipe; a higher-protein flour like King Arthur will make the cake coarser.


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Reviews (8 reviews)

  • Bongoboo | 04/11/2020

    Nowhere in this recipe does it say to use TWO 8 x 8 square pans, but apparently that's what it's supposed to be (based on comments below that I didn't read before I tried it). I pored the batter into ONE 8 x 8 pan, as the directions indicate, only to have the batter fill the pan almost to the top. I then re-read the directions to make sure I had it right. Obviously it didn't turn out. :( Wasted all my ingredients and time. PLEASE fix your directions. Very disappointing.

  • scheiberoonie | 01/02/2020

    What’s all the fuss? I am making this cake later in the week and will be using four ounces of flour—which is just under one cup. Of course, flour is a broad term these days: various flours weigh various amounts; however, 4.5 ounces is fairly standard. A liquid cup holds eight liquid ounces. Half is four ounces. Get a scale and do it right. And trust that weight (a dry measure) is not the same as liquid (a wet measure). It’s weight vs volume (or how much space a liquid occupies, if you prefer).

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