Sour Milk Cake

This ‘cake’ shows a perfect picture of how times have changed in the culinary world. This recipe, from the 1880’s, is a wonderful, but simple spice cake. No frosting or anything on it. But it’s still considered a “cake,” whereas, it more reminded me of banana bread or coffee cake. A breakfast cake. Not a dessert cake. It was good though!


-Sour Milk Cake

“Unassuming yet wickedly good, this sour-milk cake has a thin- crisp top and a gauzy bottom. It’s best eaten the day you bake it, but it will keep for a day or two.

The original recipe instructed you to “spice to taste.” I added cinnamon and nutmeg, which were lovely, if perhaps a little tame. Feel free to get crazy with your spice rack- and send me the results! (You can find me on Twitter and Facebook.)

Sour-milk cakes showed up in the latter half of the nineteenth century because baking soda- then a fairly new leavening- needs an acid to react with and create the carbon dioxide bubbles that lift the cake. As the cake bakes, the center of the batter bubbles and froths in a mildly alarming way. Fear not: the cake settles towards to end of baking.”

February 27, 1876: “Receipts from Correspondents.”

Recipe signed A.P.



We very much enjoyed this cake warm spread with butter for breakfast the day after I baked it!


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