BAKING cakes and sweet bakes

Bay Leaf Milk Cake

March 26, 2014

Bay Leaf Milk Cake

I’m pretty good at detecting flavours in recipe. I’m even proud of it. But when it comes to identifying bay leaf, I’m foxed.

I can’t seem to distinguish the subtle aroma that everyone else can. Even at school, when we made a bouquet garni of thyme and bay leaf rolled up in leek leaves and tied up with a twine, I’d never be able to identify the fragrance other than that of thyme and leek wafting from the pan.

I wondered about its importance in food, and I wondered why having too much of this might be toxic. A friend of mine even told me that it was absolutely imperative for us to add bay leaves while cooking Feijoada (Brazilian black beans)  because that’s what sets them apart from the way black beans are cooked in the rest of Latin America. I  smiled and I did as I was told, still wondering what difference they’d actually make.

Bay Leaf Milk Cake

A little while ago I saw Heidi’s gorgeous bay leaf pound cake – and that got me thinking – if I made my version of a plain milk cake without any trance of vanilla or distractions and add bay leaves, I’d probably be able to detect something. With that thought in my head, I set out to make this bay leaf milk cake. A few minutes in the oven, and the kitchen was filled with a distinct new fragrance, that of bay leaf that’s finally finding a place in my taste memory.

This cake is so good when eaten warm. It has a moist, spongy crumb and a subtle aroma that lingers on in the background while you eat the cake for elevenses or tea. Plus the lovely bay leaf arrangement makes this cake look especially dainty.

Bay Leaf Milk Cake

Bay Leaf Milk Cake

The cake recipe makes 1 large loaf (9 inch) and another smaller one (I used a 6 inch Le Creuset pan).


  • 250g butter
  • 250g sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 320g flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 150g milk
  • 8-10 bay leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 175C. Butter and flour a loaf pan + a smaller loaf pan or cake mould.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the sea salt. Add one egg at a time and keep whisking until well incorporated and fluffy.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder together, then sift it.
  4. Fold the flour into the wet ingredients, alternating with milk. Start and end with the flour.
  5. Pour into the prepared moulds and arrange the bay leaves on top.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes (lesser time for the smaller cake).
  7. Cakes are ready when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.


  • Reply Krithika March 26, 2014 at 8:30 PM

    Definitely trying it this weekend. Looks delish

    • Reply Krithika March 28, 2014 at 11:24 PM

      Tried it and it turned out great. Will mail you the pics. Thanks for the recipe

  • Reply Anu March 26, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    Although the bay leaf is distinctive in flavor I have never associated it with anything sweet. Biryanis, aromatic rice, Chole is what I associate the bay leaf flavors…

    This is a very interesting take on bay leaves!

  • Reply rebecca March 27, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    oh nice idea would like to try

  • Reply Maria March 27, 2014 at 4:34 AM

    Are the bay leaves you used fresh? For some reason fresh bay leaves are hard to find where I live.

    • Reply Shaheen March 28, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      These are dried bay leaves. You could use either.

  • Reply Maria March 27, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    It certainly looks pretty! You peel off the leaf before you eat?

  • Reply Priya March 27, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    Omg, thats soo interesting cake..Trust me this is first time am seeing bayleaves in cake.

  • Reply Shradha Bhatia April 2, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    Ah, that looks so good! I have to try it out this weekend. I will send you an email with the results :)

    If you like Thai food, check out my recent review of O:h Cha Kitchen & Bar, a new establishment in Lower Parel:

    It would be great if you could leave comment with your views & feedback.

    Keep up the great work :) xx

  • Reply Sophia Andrade Kapadia April 11, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Thankyou for posting this absolutely simple recipe.
    I was inspired to finally bake a cake and it turned out so good.
    I like the heavenly baking aroma that floods my kitchen.

  • Reply Laavys Kitchen May 7, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    Looks so delicious.Cant wait to try this one !! :)

  • Reply Lavender Milk Cake | The Purple Foodie May 31, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    […] bring to you this cake as a good reminder of how lovely and versatile the milk cake can be. It’s soft as a pillow and moist and buttery. When it’s baking, the house is […]

  • Reply Preethi June 6, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Hi Purple Foodie!

    I just made this cake using just 4 eggs and it was super awesome! Delicious!!! Thanks so much!

  • Reply Lorli December 4, 2015 at 6:16 PM

    I, too, was surprised to see Bay Leaves used in a cake. It looks beautiful and I am going to make it today!

    Many years ago, there was a cookery magazine in Britain called “Taste.” They once featured a cake that was baked in a tube pan – after buttering and flouring the tin, you would place 3 or 4 scented geranium leaves on the bottom. The leaves could be peeled off when you turned the cake out and it looked pretty and had a subtle scent and taste. Your milk cake recipe would be even better than the original.

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