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Condensed Milk in Birthday Cake

Asked by Amvanoers. Answered on 27th August 2014

Full question

Is the condensed milk in Nigella's Birthday Cake recipe (from How to Eat) the sweetened version? I normally used sweetened condensed milk, but recently I saw there's also a normal can of condensed milk without added sugar.

Our answer

Nigella's chocolate Birthday Cake (from How To Eat) uses sweetened condensed milk and generally this type of milk is referred to as just condensed milk. The sugar was originally added to help to preserve the milk. Unsweetened condensed milk is in most countries referred to as evaporated milk. In Nigella's recipes this type of milk will also be listed as evaporated milk.

It is important to use the sweetened milk in Nigella's recipes where it has been listed as condensed milk or sweetened condensed milk as the sugar content in the milk will have an effect on the taste and consistency of the finished cake or dish. For the Birthday Cake you may find that the cake is not sweet enough and also that the cake may stale more quickly. The cake itself could also be less tender as there would be more liquid in the cake batter; liquid toughens the glutens in flour whereas sugar weakens the glutens.

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