While baking or even making dinner, you might come across recipes that require you scald milk. Which brings you to your next question: how do you scald milk and why do you scald milk?
What is Scalded Milk?
In the old days, the main purpose of scalding milk was to kill bacteria. However, today (most) milk is pasteurized and therefore we only scald milk for the secondary reasons.
Scalded milk is milk heated to a near boil, then cooled. It makes cakes, breads and anything with yeast fluffier and and lighter.
The primary reason being that the whey protein in milk weakens gluten and prevents dough from rising properly. Scalding milk kills the protein, allowing the gluten to stay intact. Heat chops up the molecules and peptides making the amino acids available for the yeast.
Making those amino acids more readily available helps to dissolve sugar and let the yeast ferment (bloom), which can make your doughs rise better, resulting in fluffier and springier breads and cakes. You doesn’t want a super fluffy slice of cake?
Milk, because it is so heavy in fats and protein, is also a great medium for infused flavors. Infused milk can take a regular recipe to spectacular. Infused your scalded milk with whole vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, citrus, fresh herbs and spices.
Although not labeled “scalding,” we see this process a lot in ice cream recipes. Think about simmering a vanilla bean in milk and allowing it to cool. It is the same process.
Two Ways to Scald Milk
There are two ways to scald milk: on the stovetop and in the microwave. Although it is a little more time consuming, I prefer to scald milk on the stovetop.
How to Scald Milk on the Stovetop
Pour milk into a heavy bottom saucepan or double boiler. Slowly heat milk over medium-low heat.
The key here is to heat the milk, but not to bring it to a boil. If this makes you nervous, keep checking the temperature using a thermometer.
Boiling will burn your milk and kill other vital proteins. Stir continuously to prevent milk from thickening, burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Bring to 180°F.
While milk is heating, monitor the temperature of the milk, but also stir the milk and stir frequently.
Look for steam and small bubbles around the edges of your heavy bottom sauce pan, then remove immediately from heat.
Allow your scalded milk to cool to below 138°F before adding to your recipe. If it is too hot, it can kill the yeast or bring all of the ingredients, especially butter, to an undesired temperature, impacting the finished the product.
Scalded milk is milk that has been heated to 180 °F. Do not heat over 212°F.
Scald Milk in the Microwave
Scalding milk in the microwave gives you less control over the temperature. You will also need a microwave safe utensil of some sort to break the surface plane and prevent the milk from overheating and scorching.
Many people use a wooden or plastic chopstick, or something else similar. Heat milk in 30 second increments at 50% power, stirring between each heating and monitoring temperature.
Follow the same guidelines as when you scald milk on a stove top. Be careful removing milk from microwave, as the bowl will also be super hot.
Questions about how to scald milk:
Can you use skim milk in scalded milk? Yes! But remember, it has less fast. If the recipe calls for whole milk or just “milk” assume it means full fat.
If you are like me and usually only have skim milk on hand, you can substitute 1 cup of skim milk with 1 1/2 teaspoons melted butter for every 1 cup of whole milk.
Can you use almond milk? No, almond milk isn’t dairy and doesn’t have the same proteins as regular milk.
Can you use milk powder? You can use powdered milk for scalded milk. It is just a dehydrated version of liquid milk, so it has the same proteins and chemical makeup.
Is there a scalded milk substitute? Not really, but you can use un-scalded milk. If your recipe calls for yeast, try to make sure milk is at least room temperature so it doesn’t inhibit activating the yeast.
Is scorched milk the same as scalded milk? Technically, no, but you will see the two terms used interchangeably in recipes. Scorched milk is burnt milk and all of the proteins have been heated up and out of the mixture.
Can I use scalded milk in other recipes? Yes! Any recipe that calls for milk, especially those with yeast, are ideal for scalded milk. If it doesn’t call for it from the get-go, make sure you make a little extra to account for evaporation. It will make the final produce lighter and fluffier!
Do I measure how much milk I need for the recipe before or after scalding? Sometimes the recipe will include the process of scalding and therefore account for any evaporation loss.
If it doesn’t, then use a measuring cup after you have scalded the milk and add a little additional for the evaporation factor.
Is it the same as sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk?
Nope! Scalded is milk is like the beginning stages of evaporated milk, but it lets about 50% of the water evaporate to a think consistency.
Sweetened condensed milk is evaporated milk, but with added sugar so it is thick, sticky and sweet.
Can I think it? If your recipe calls for a thicken milk, use a small amount of cornstarch slurry to thicken.
Recipes that use scalded milk:
- Danish Pastry Wreath
- Mardi Gras King Cake
- Easy Blender Chocolate Mousse
- Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls
- Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes
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How to Scald Milk
- 4 cups whole milk
- Pour milk into a heavy bottom saucepan or double boiler.
- Slowly heat milk over medium-low heat. The key here is to heat the milk, but not to bring it to a boil. Boiling will burn your milk and kill other vital proteins.
- Stir continuously to prevent milk from thickening, burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Look for steam and small bubbles around the edges of your heavy bottom sauce pan, then remove immediately from heat.
- Allow your scalded milk to cool before adding to your recipe. If it is too hot, it can kill the yeast or bring all of the ingredients, especially butter, to an undesired temperature, impacting the finished the product.
- Scalded milk is milk that has been heated to 82 °C (180 °F). Do not heat over 212°F. You can use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool or use while still hot. Consult your recipe for the best temperature to use it at.
- If you have tried this techinque, come back and let us know how it went!