If you like salted caramel, you’ll love this pound cake

Bubble tea birthday cake
Sweetened condensed milk gives this pound cake a caramelized top.
(Evan Sung / For The Times)

Sweetened condensed milk is a key ingredient in milk tea, so it seemed fitting that some should be included in this Boba Birthday Cake. It works beautifully in pound cake, a trick I learned from pastry chef Pichet Ong. You can make this cake to enjoy on its own as well. The edges and top caramelize in the oven and develop a salted caramel flavor that’s lovely, but you’ll trim them off to cut the cake into “ice cubes” for the finished dessert. Those cake scraps are your reward for all the work you’ve put into making it.

Kids are easy to please with homemade birthday cakes. This surprising boba birthday cake for teenagers can have the same effect.

Salted Butter and Condensed Milk Pound Cake

1 hour 45 minutes, plus cooling. Makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf.



  • 1 cup salted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until pale yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. With the machine running, add the condensed milk in a steady stream and beat until smooth. Scrape the bowl and continue beating on medium speed. With the machine running, add the eggs one at a time, waiting for each to be incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl between additions. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated.
  3. Scrape the bowl and turn the mixer speed to the lowest setting. With the machine running, add the flour mixture gradually. Mix, scraping occasionally, until no dry bits remain and the batter looks smooth. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  4. Bake until a skewer or cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Unmold the cake and peel off the parchment. Serve or use in the boba birthday cake.

Make ahead
The cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If frozen, thaw before serving.