Carabao Milk Cake

Ever tried carabao milk? It’s richer and creamier than cow’s milk (and more nutritious, too).  It’s also very flavorful; with a light but very distinct sweet yet refreshing finish. We thought these qualities would make it an excellent ingredient for baking, but the results were even better than we anticipated.

While the tops and sides of the cake turn slightly crisp and golden brown, the inner crumb stays light and moist. It has a rich, milky smell and a velvety texture. The toasted cashews are there for the bite and the kesong puti is there for contrast.

For those who aren’t local: kesong puti is a cheese made from carabao’s milk, and as flavorful as the milk is, kesong puti is actually pretty mild. It’s soft and a just little bit salty.

For those of you who are local: I am happy to report that you can easily get both fresh carabao milk and kesong puti in most supermarkets in Manila these days. We got ours from Mr. Moo’s Fresh Milk & Kesong Puti stall in Megamall. Aside from fresh and flavored carabao milk, they also have goat’s milk and cheese selections. We’re well on our way to becoming regulars.

This cake doesn’t need more cream or any frosting, but it does go perfectly with some honey.

For the cake:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still firm
1 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
5 large egg whites
1 1/4 cup carabao milk
3 cups cake flour
4 tbsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp five spice
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:
200g kesong puti, crumbled
150g cashews (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Grease and flour two 9×2 inch round cake pans. Line with parchment.

Prepare your keso and cashew topping. Wash, dry and crumble the kesong puti. Lightly toast and grind the cashew nuts. Set aside.

Make your cake. In one bowl, combine and whisk together flour, baking powder salt and five spice. Set aside.

In another bowl, stir together the milk, egg whites and vanilla extract with a fork. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with your electric mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes or until it has become creamy and light-colored. Scrape down sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately in three batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix on low speed or by hand and just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir by hand to finish.

Assemble your cake. Divide evenly between the two pans. Smooth surface with spatula. Sprinkle kesong puti and cashews on tops. Bake at 176°C/350°F for 30-45 minutes (rotate halfway through). The cakes are ready when the side and the tops are a light golden brown. Unmold and cool on a rack for a few minutes, but serve while still warm.

Have some cake. Drizzle honey over your slices and pour yourself a glass of cold carabao’s milk. Enjoy.

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