Use this subtle vanilla milk soak instead of imbibing syrup to moisten cake layers and to add flavor to your cakes. I love the fact that it doesn’t make cakes overly sweet!
For my birthday in the third week of February I made two cakes: a delicious Chocolate Espresso Cake and the famous Momofuku Birthday Cake. Have you heard of the Momofuku Milk Bar and all their cakes? I hadn’t actually until I stumbled upon their Birthday Cake on Pinterest. It looked so beautiful and fun that I just HAD to make it for my birthday.
Not only did it turn out beautifully (photos to be posted in about a week!), I also picked up some great tips. Like this vanilla milk soak.
Of course, I was already familiar with using imbibing syrups to moisten cake layers and to add flavor. I use them all the time and usually, I’m thrilled with the results. But the thing with syrups is that they are very sweet, because they’re made with a LOT of sugar. One part water, one part sugar, actually. And sometimes you just don’t need that much sweetness. Sometimes you just want to moisten the cake and maybe add a hint of flavor.
Enter: vanilla milk soak.
This is one of these recipes that make me think: ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ It’s so simple, just milk and vanilla. Stir it together, drizzle it over a cake layer, spread on some frosting, and bam: deliciously moist, super flavorful cake.
So no, I guess the recipe included in this post isn’t really a recipe. More of casual mix-this-with-that thing… I use whole milk to make this, but you can use whatever milk you like (though buttermilk would be a bit weird, perhaps). I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to use almond milk, coconut milk, or rice milk (or something like it) either.
And the vanilla? Well, that’s another thing I learned from the Momofuku Birthday Cake recipe. Apparently, clear vanilla extract (so the fake extract all the good food bloggers warn you against!) is what gives their cake that typical boxed cake mix vanilla flavor. Christina Tosi, who developed the Momofuku Birthday Cake recipe, actually calls it the Birthday Cake’s secret ingredient.
In other words: fake vanilla extract is suddenly cool again! So use the real stuff or the fake stuff, it doesn’t matter. Well flavorwise it still matters, but the food snobs aren’t judging anymore 😉
As for me, I used the fake stuff in the milk soak for the Birthday Cake and real vanilla extract in the soak for the Pastel Rainbow Meringue Heart Cake. Both cakes were absolutely delicious!
Another thing: if you think that, yes, actually your cake COULD use a little more sweetness, you can always sweeten the milk. Just warm it in a saucepan until until it’s just warm, add sugar to taste, stir until the sugar has dissolved, and add the vanilla.
Because the vanilla milk soak is made with just two ingredients, it’s really easy to adjust this ‘recipe’ to the flavor of your cake or your own taste.
But that’s it for now! Quick post for a short recipe. Click here if you want to subscribe to my mailing list (and get a free mini eCookbook!!) or scroll down if you want to pin 😉
Oh, and here’s the recipe for those delicious vanilla cupcakes you can see in the background of the photos.
- 80g (or ⅓ cup) milk of choice*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract of choice
- In a glass, stir together milk and vanilla.
- Drizzle or brush over cake layers before frosting.