This is a guest post to Illuminations for the Great Rare Books Bake Off, by Denise Wetzel, STEM Research & Learning Librarian.
“Ye Olde Baking Adventure” began by looking through various cookbooks from my family’s home in Schuylkill (pronounced SKOOL-kill) County, Pennsylvania. Even though I now live in Florida, and have been pretty much in the South for about the last 12 years, I love recipes that harken back to my parents, grandparents, and beyond. After perusing through my cookbook and recipe collections, I settled on using a cookbook my mother received when she married in 1977.
St. Mark’s (Brown’s) Church is a tiny church out in the country, and while the cookbook is full of interesting cleaning advice, diet tips, and home recipes, she pointed out a recipe she remembered her mother and grandmother making every Saturday morning. Remembering baking in the kitchen in Pine Grove just was too much to pass up. Since so many memories tend to be tied to smells and tastes, I just had to try it out myself. So without further ado, I submit for the Great Rare Books Bakeoff blog post for the Hot Milk Sponge Cake as shared by Mrs. Alice Rumpf in 1968.
While the Hot Milk Sponge Cake may seem simple, at first glance, the ease and adaptability of the cake seems to be its genius. This cake was popular during the 1950’s and 60’s, and seems like a staple sponge, though more on the pound cake side of baking. A quick look into the history shows there is even a Wikipedia page dedicated to this tasty treat.
I did make a few adjustments to the recipe as I baked based on my own knowledge and to meet a dietary requirement. First, I let the eggs come to room temperature before baking as this is a standard procedure for most recipes. This is not mentioned but may be an inferred step by many bakers. I also lined my pan with parchment so that it would pop out of the pan with ease. Finally, I switched out the flour for a Gluten Free Baking Mix I use in place of regular cake flour. This led to a more dense cake which would not be an issue for bakers that don’t need to keep their kitchens gluten free.
Pouring hot milk into my batter while taking a picture was a little challenging, and I was afraid it would end up all over the floor, but I was successful and needed no do-over. No binned cake for this round. Overall it was a super easy and I had the cake in the oven in no time at all.
After baking for 30 minutes, I let the cake cool in the pan before flipping it onto a cooling rack. That evening my mother and I settled down for a nice slice of Hot Milk Sponge Cake with two mugs of hot cocoa. It had been a long day of baking and holiday decorating, so it capped off the perfect evening. We even dunked our cake in the cocoa, just like she did as a child!