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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Torta María Louísa

To end Nancy's birthday lunch, I made a Columbian-inspired cake, Torta María Louísa, a citrus-scented sponge cake filled with caramel.

I used a recipe for my favorite Hot Milk Sponge Cake and adapted it to match the Torta María Louísa flavor profile.


Hot Milk Sponge Cake

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

  • 1-3/4 cups organic granulated sugar

  • 2 cups plus 1 Tablespoon flour, divided

  • 3/4 cup whole milk

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon pure orange extract

  • Also needed: dulce de leche (below) and powdered sugar

Dulce de Leche

  • 4 cups milk

  • 2 cups organic granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon pure orange extract

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Dulce de Leche

Bring the milk to a boil in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add all other ingredients, stirring the sugar with a whisk until it is completely dissolved. Cook on medium low until it turns into caramel, about 2-3 hours. It should have a rich tan or brown color and smooth texture when done. Consistency is a matter of preference. Some like their dulce de leche runny, like a sauce; others like it thick.

Hot Milk Sponge Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line three 6-inch baking pans with parchment paper and butter the sides. Set aside.

Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl until yolks are broken up. Add in the sugar and beat until lightened and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Sift in 2 cups of flour and beat until just combined, approximately 1 minute.

Place the milk and butter in a medium saucepan and heat until the butter melts and the mixture begins to steam. Slowly pour the hot milk into the batter, beating until smooth. Pour in the orange juice, then add in the remaining flour, baking powder, vanilla, and orange extract. Beat until just combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and place in the oven.

Bake until the layers are lightly golden brown, approximately 22 to 24 minutes. Remove the layers from the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely.


Once the cakes are cooled, secure the bottom layer to your serving platter with a dollop of caramel. Spread a layer of the caramel on the bottom cake before placing the second layer on top. You can make it a triple layer, but I used the third layer for a separate cake. Dust the top with powdered sugar and drizzle with more caramel for serving.

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