Sunday, 22 February 2015

Condensed Milk Loaf Cake

Whilst I love the frivolity and decadence of layer cakes, there is something that I find so reassuring and sensible about loaf cakes. For some reason, I never feel particularly guilty having one slice too many from a loaf cake, but even one slice of a layer cake always makes me feel as if I am doing something a little naughty! If I’m being completely honest, I find it hard to resist cakes of any description whether they be layer cakes, loaf cakes or small little dainty cakes. I just love cake.
 
Layer cakes are beautiful, look stunning and are perfect for special celebrations, but they’re not really the type of cake that I hanker for when I want something comforting to nibble on with my cup of tea. Layer cakes with their fillings of cream/jam/fruit/chocolate etc. invariably need to be eaten with a pastry fork or other implement, where as you can usually eat a slice of a loaf cake using your hands.  Even when iced with simple glacé or buttercream icings, there is nothing pretentious about them. It is therefore unsurprising that I love to try out new loaf cake recipes when I come across them.
 
I always seem to have tins of condensed milk in the kitchen cupboard, mainly because it’s a key ingredient when making Millionaire's Shortbread, which I regularly do for cake sales, coffee mornings and the like. I also use it to make the toffee filling for Banoffee Pie, which is such a hugely popular and incredibly easy dessert to make (I will post my take on Banoffee soon). I was recently carrying out research on different cakes from around the world and was fascinated by the fact that condensed milk regularly appears in cakes from South America and parts of Asia. I tried out a few different recipes for cakes containing condensed milk, and after making a few changes, this is the one that I finally settled on.
 
This is a lovely cake. From the outside it looks very plain and a bit unexciting, but when you take a bite the milky sweetness of the condensed milk really comes through. Despite the addition of the condensed milk, the cake is not too sweet and has a lovely close texture without being heavy. It really is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea or strong black coffee.
 
The great thing about a cake like this is that you can serve it on its own or with some soft fruit and a dollop of cream as a dessert. Happy days! Because of the inclusion of condensed milk which acts as a humectant, this cake keeps wonderfully fresh for a number of days, but it is fairly addictive, so I doubt it’ll last that long.
 

Ingredients:

225g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
240g condensed milk
1tsp vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour, sieved
 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 160C/Fan Oven 140C/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin with non-stick baking parchment and set aside.
2. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat together using a hand-held electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well after each addition.
3. Add the condensed milk and vanilla extract mixing well until they are fully incorporated. Finally, fold in the sifted flour. Don’t over-mix, but equally make sure that there are no ‘pockets’ of flour remaining.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until well risen and a thin skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
 
Serves 6-8.