“Baked milk (Russian: топлёное молоко, Ukrainian: пряжене молоко, Belarusian: адтопленае малако) is a variety of boiled milk that has been particularly popular in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. It is made by simmering milk on low heat for eight hours or longer.
In rural areas, baked milk has been produced by leaving a jug of boiled milk in an oven for a day or night until it is coated with a brown crust. Prolonged exposure to heat causes reactions between the milk’s amino acids and sugars, resulting in the formation of melanoidin compounds that give it a creamy color and caramel flavor. A great deal of moisture evaporates, resulting in a change of consistency. The stove in a traditional Russian log house (izba) sustains “varying cooking temperatures based on the placement of the food inside the oven.” [Quoted from Glenn Randall Mack, Asele Surina. Food Culture In Russia And Central Asia. Greenwood Press, 2005. ISBN 0-313-32773-4. Page 22.]
Today, baked milk is produced on an industrial scale, as are soured or fermented baked milk products, known as ryazhenka and varenets. Like scalded milk, it is free of bacteria and enzymes and can be stored safely at room temperature for up to forty hours. Home-made baked milk is used for preparing a range of cakes, pies, and cookies.” — wiki
Eastern European immigrants miss baked milk products. I can’t describe how happy I was to discover an easy way to make baked milk at home a few years ago! All I needed was a slow cooker, preferably a crock-pot with ceramic insert and heating elements around it (vs. only on the bottom). I use 3-Quart Crock-Pot. Scalded milk goes in and slowly cooks for 8-12 hours on LOW, covered with a lid all the time. Start in the evening, have your baked milk in the morning. Easy.
Recently, I tried using pressure cooker for making baked milk, and I found the process even easier and, obviously, faster. The taste of te baked milk is not exactly the same as when it is made in slow cooker though, because there is no water evaporation. Slowly cooked baked milk is relatively darker, thicker, sweeter, more flavorful.
Yes. You can bake any milk. You can even bake half-n-half. Whole or 2% milk is the best. The more fat, the tastier.
If you are lactose-intolerant OR forgot how the real milk tastes like OR simply want to make sure your natural calcium intake is balanced, look for FairLife milk in your local supermarkets. My daughter just introduced it to me. For those of you who live in Austin, it is available in HEB. It has less sugar and more calcium and protein than regular milk, no lactose. It tastes SO good! For the recipe below I baked 2% FairLife milk for 12 hours, and I’ve got a wonderful concentrated flavor with the darkest milk caramelization ever.
Drink it as is! It’s delicious. Substitute regular milk with baked one in any recipe and rediscover your favorite drinks and dishes. Add it to a cup of coffee or hot tea. Cook oatmeal with it. Make crepes batter based on baked milk. Use it for pastry cream or custard. Culture baked milk into yogurt or soft cheese.