How to Scald Milk
Scalding milk is easy-and here's how you do it.
A lot of recipes for custards, puddings, breads, and pastry creams call for scalded milk. This may seem like an extra and time-consuming step to take — is the temperature of your milk really that crucial for a recipe to be successful? Here are a few tips on how to scald your milk, and why scalded milk is an important ingredient in your baking.
Before milk was heavily commercialized and readily-available, scalding was part of the pasteurization process of milk to get rid of dangerous bacteria and germs swimming around in it—these germs do not survive high heat temperatures. Nowadays, because milk is pasteurized before it hits the grocery shelves, scalding is often used for flavoring and tempering purposes instead of being used for health protection purposes.
To scald your milk means to heat it to a temperature just before boiling. This is a great way to infuse flavors into your milk for with aromatic ingredients like vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom seeds. Flavored milk can then be incorporated into puddings, custards, and pastry creams for an extra layer of flavour. Scalded milk is also essential for tempering egg yolks, where hot milk is slowly whisked into egg yolks to incorporate them seamlessly into pastry creams. If you’ve ever come across a bread recipe that calls for scalded milk, this is because cold or room-temperature milk inhibits proteins present in yeast and flour from rising—an important step in proofing bread!
To scald milk, place your milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low to medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent a skin from forming on top. Be careful! Milk can burn very easily.Your milk will be ready once it hits 180 to 185 degrees F. If you don’t have a thermometer, it should be ready when it starts bubbling slightly at the edges of the saucepan. Take your milk off the heat immediately to prevent it from boiling, which could cause your milk to burn or curdle.