Thread Number: 71128  /  Tag: Recipes, Cooking Accessories
Recipe Search: Carnation Evaporated Milk Used With Cake Mix
[Down to Last]'s exclusive eBay Watch:
scroll >>> for more items
Post# 941544   6/3/2017 at 03:01 (325 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

frigilux's profile picture
I've been watching episodes of the George Burns & Gracie Allen tv show on YouTube. One of the characters, Harry von Zell, does most of the commercials, many of which hawk Carnation Evaporated Milk. In one of these commercials, von Zell talks about using evaporated milk in cake mixes. He makes several claims as to how the resulting cake is superior compared to using the standard box instructions, then urges shoppers to visit the Carnation display in their store, where they can pick up a cake mix, a can of Carnation, and a recipe card.

Several searches for this variation on using a cake mix have been fruitless. Does anyone in the AW family have this recipe, and if so, would you be willing to share it with me? I'm assuming the recipe was around in the mid-1950's.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Post# 941548 , Reply# 1   6/3/2017 at 04:52 (325 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

launderess's profile picture
As a teen just learning the domestic arts, used evaporated milk when baking cakes from mixes. This was before learned how to make them from scratch. Cakes were indeed very moist, but cannot say for sure if evaporated milk was the key.

One of my grandmothers and several aunts kept evaporated milk in their homes as they used it for coffee and other things. Guess this was a "Great Depression" thing.

This was around the 1970's and cannot remember but *think* Duncan Hines gave instructions on using either normal or evaporated milk. This obviously was before box mixes began using powdered milk and gave directions to use water instead of real milk.

Though often used interchangeably, condensed and evaporated milk are (or were) two separate products.

If you aren't turning up much using a search for "evaporated", try condensed instead.

Recipes and tips:

Post# 941555 , Reply# 2   6/3/2017 at 06:55 (325 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
I Use

Pet evaporated milk in most all my cakes, As well as gravy.

Post# 941562 , Reply# 3   6/3/2017 at 08:31 (325 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Why wouldn't you just use it on a one-to-one replacement basis? You can replace the water called for with a box mix with an equal amount of milk and the cake will turn out OK.

Post# 941563 , Reply# 4   6/3/2017 at 08:39 (325 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Yes, you could do that

launderess's profile picture
But the reason box cake mixes moved to using water was IIRC most if not all now contain powdered milk.

Being as that may there is a heated debate about substituting water for milk with powdered cake mixes.

Personally have always used milk (whole, buttermilk or condensed/evaporated)when using cake mixes, and results turned out decent enough. It has been ages though since have done so as now bake cakes entirely from scratch.

Post# 941565 , Reply# 5   6/3/2017 at 09:12 (325 days old) by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

ken's profile picture
Back when Eddie (believe it was Eddie) posted his recipe for extending our now reduced box mixes to bring them back to the volume they once were I believe the instructions called for replacing the water with milk. Know it called for replacing the oil with melted butter.

Post# 941571 , Reply# 6   6/3/2017 at 10:06 (325 days old) by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

ea56's profile picture
Laundress is on the right track about the older cake mixes not containing dry milk powder like they do now. And I believe that back then they most always called for using milk as the liquid, rather than water. So when Harry Von Zell was promoting the use of Carnation Evaporated Milk in cake mixes, using it full strength as it came out of the can would have resulted in a richer cake, because evap milk is usually diluted 50/50 with water to appoximate fresh whole milk. And yes, it was I that came up with the cake mix extender recipe using whole milk. Since I'm assuming that the premise behind using full strength evap milk was to result in a richer cake I would not be afraid to try using it this way in a cake mix in the same amount as the water is called for on the box. If anything it will likely result in a more dense cake. But I would never suggest using condensed milk as a substitution for evap milk. The two are very different. Condensed milk is loaded with sugar, and that needs to be taken into consideration in any recipe that you would be using it in.

I always have a can or two of evap milk on hand. Its great for cooking, especially for thin white sauce for mac and cheese or scalloped potatoes. And it is a Great Depression thing. When my Moms family came to California in 1935, my Grandpa had been working on the WPA helping to build Route 66, and part of the workers payment was government commodities, one of which was evap milk, and thats that they used for milk during their trek to the Golden State. My Mom told me that my Grandma refused to eat any of that "goddamned government food", even though Grandpa worked for it.

This post was last edited 06/03/2017 at 14:35
Post# 941611 , Reply# 7   6/3/2017 at 17:59 (325 days old) by bendix5 (Central Point, Oregon)        

bendix5's profile picture
Mom used pet evaporated milk for years. I remember her using it in cake mixes then changing to water somewhere along the line. She would dilute it with 1 1/2 cans of water for our cereal if we were out of milk. To this day we keep several cans in the pantry. If we make biscuits and gravy or white gravy, scalloped potatoes etc, we use canned milk because I got spoiled from moms cooking. Evaporated milk gives food a unique flavor. For the cake mix these days I would use the milk straight out of the can in place of the water, with a white or yellow cake to see how it goes. It will most likely be richer than water. Good Luck

Post# 941618 , Reply# 8   6/3/2017 at 18:29 (325 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Just remembered

launderess's profile picture
For many the 1970's were "hard times" and people especially seniors on fixed incomes had to make every penny count. This was before Social Security was inflation indexed, and there was plenty of "Stagflation" in the 1970's.

Any who just recalled reading in newspapers and or hearing about various tips to housewives and others to make their grocery budget go further. One of them was to use powdered milk in a 50/50 dilution with whole to make fresh go further. This was important to families with young children or even teens who consumed (and were assumed to need) large amounts of the stuff.

Since canned milk (evaporated or condensed) kept longer than whole another suggestion as to stock up on those (especially when on sale), and again dilute with water or 50/50 mix with whole to make the latter go further.

From my nursing education recall reading all sorts of recipes for infant "formula" based on "canned"/ evaporated milk. You added those iron drops Tryvisol for infants and Polyvisol toddlers.

Post# 941621 , Reply# 9   6/3/2017 at 18:42 (325 days old) by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

ken's profile picture
I don't remember not having evaporated milk in the house. It was used in coffee. Always had Carnation brand.

My oldest brother was born in 1948. The recipe that my mother was given to make his formula consisted of evaporated milk, water and corn syrup. Can you imagine feeding a baby that today? With all we hear about how bad corn syrup is. Now that I think of it my older sister and other brother may have been fed that too. My mother told me I was the only one given store bought formula (Similac).

Post# 941622 , Reply# 10   6/3/2017 at 18:51 (325 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Corn syrup

launderess's profile picture
Is there as a source of glucose (sugar), which breast milk contains in good amounts IIRC.

Corn syrup per se is not necessarily any bad or worse than other sources of sugar. It is the fact today the stuff is included in so many packaged/ready made foods that Americans are consuming vast amounts of sugar without actually knowing.

My sainted mother forbade "sweetened" cereal or oatmeal for her children. We got regular corn flakes and the sugar jar was no where near breakfast table. OTOH however fresh fruit (bananas, strawberries, blue berries, etc...) along with raisins and nuts were not off limits. That is how one has porridge to this day, no sugar but fresh fruit and nuts.

Post# 941624 , Reply# 11   6/3/2017 at 19:00 (325 days old) by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

ea56's profile picture
We always called evaporated milk canned milk in my family. My paternal Grandparent's used it in their coffee instead of 1/2 & 1/2. So as to control the flow they used a sharp knife point to make two small slits on either side of the can top. I always loved the taste of canned milk, reminded me of being at Gradma's house. It is really great in cooking just like Dan and others have posted. Especially in "Milk Gravy" for fried chicken or pork chops.

And it doesn't spoil, so you can always have milk on hand for cooking if you don't normally keep fresh milk on hand. But as far as being a bargain, not so much anymore. My local Target, Safeway and Walmart charge around $1.25 to $1.65 for a 12 oz. can. Reconstituted to approximate whole milk with a 50/50 mix of water and evap milk it works out to about what you would pay for fresh milk. But for certain things it gives a lot of extra richness and flavor.

This post was last edited 06/03/2017 at 23:05
Post# 941626 , Reply# 12   6/3/2017 at 19:16 (325 days old) by bendix5 (Central Point, Oregon)        

bendix5's profile picture
I was fed evaporated milk and karo syrup as well. Formula today isn't much better and many babies are allergic to it. Too much soy. Born in 49 I grew up without sugar cereals and the majority of our goodies were homemade and treated like a controlled substance. When my brother came along 6 years later more store bought goodies started coming in the house. I took my lunch every day and that usually was pot luck. Breakfast was post toasties, oatmeal or cream of wheat. We ate a lot of fruit as well when in season. In the summer we would have fruit and toast for breakfast. Of course in those days it was what ever was in season. Now days everything is at our finger tips. I think back and know our parents were doing the right thing.

Post# 941628 , Reply# 13   6/3/2017 at 19:24 (325 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
"were homemade and treated like a controlled substance&#

launderess's profile picture
Ohhh yes!

As children we had something for desert (if good), part of our box or otherwise lunch, and maybe at snack time. Otherwise cakes, candies and other sweets were parceled out as if war rationing were still on. *LOL*

My mother knew how many cookies came in a packet or were baked and divided the sum by number of her children over "X" amount of days. Heaven help us if that packet or cookie jar ran empty ahead of schedule. *LOL*

Of course looking back can see the method behind the madness.

Post# 941657 , Reply# 14   6/3/2017 at 23:08 (325 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

I remember when Pet and Carnation cans were just a bit bigger.  My pumpkin pie recipe calls for both evaporated and whole milk.  12oz of canned milk and the cans were 13 oz., so I would sip the first ounce out of the can.  Now we are lucky to get 10 or 11 oz per can.  I buy the smaller 7 oz cans that used to be 8oz and use it in my macaroni and potato salad dressing.

Post# 941816 , Reply# 15   6/4/2017 at 22:11 (324 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

frigilux's profile picture
Thanks, everyone, for the input, reading materials, and familial anecdotes about the use of evaporated milk back in the day.

Think I'll try substituting evaporated milk for water, then proceed per box instructions. Using buttermilk, as suggested in one of the links posted by Launderess, also sounds great.

Post# 941903 , Reply# 16   6/5/2017 at 14:38 (323 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Well there is buttermilk, then there is Buttermilk

launderess's profile picture
Check the label carefully before purchasing.

Thanks to modern ways of processing dairy what many of us recall as buttermilk of our youth is *not* what you get as most supermarkets.

Post# 942237 , Reply# 17   6/7/2017 at 10:26 (321 days old) by mikael3 (Atlanta)        

While it’s true that evaporated milk really took off in the Depression, I think it was shelf-life and shelf-stability, rather than cost, that made it so important.  The government was trucking this stuff all over the country to people who needed it, and there was no way they could have done that with fresh milk.  And maybe more importantly, country people went to the supermarket infrequently, maybe never, and only a few of them owned a milk cow.  They were probably happy to stock up on evaporated milk.


Similarly in Mexico and Central America, maybe South America, too, canned milk is still just about the only milk used for baking.  Fresh milk in that climate was traditionally not an option for the general public.  Of course, milk consumption was unknown there before contact with Europeans, and most Latinos are lactose intolerant, so it’s use is strongly associated with recipes from the Spanish convents.  The nuns used real milk, and their cheeses and milk-based desserts have always been famous.  But as baking became an option for household kitchens in the 20th century, ordinary people turned to evaporated milk.  Fresh milk has no future there, either, because over half the population is lactose intolerant.


Sorry I can’t help with the Carnation recipe.  I’ll take a look at some Latino recipes and see what I can find.  There may be something still in use.

Post# 942290 , Reply# 18   6/7/2017 at 15:54 (321 days old) by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        
Evaporated milk and cooking

As I was making a batch of mashed potatoes earlier it dawned on me that I use a can of evaporated milk (Pet brand) in my old school recipe. Also when I used to make ice cream, the evaporated milk comprised the majority of the mix.

A buddy of mine that is from San Paulo makes "condensed milk pudding" by using sweetened condensed milk and he creates something akin to a flan.

When Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk was introduced by Borden, it became the "go to" ingredient for a good number of dessert and candy recipes. I think Louie has posted several of the early ads and if memory serves it was introduced and marketed in the 1920s?

As people have mentioned above, the taste is distinctive for both the evaporated and condensed milks. I really love the flavor it imparts.

Post# 942294 , Reply# 19   6/7/2017 at 16:25 (321 days old) by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

ea56's profile picture
Bordens Eagle Brand Condensed Milk was introduced in this country in 1856. It first came into popularity due the difficulty of keeping milk fresh and the resulting cases of food poisoning. It really got off the ground during the Civil War. It was credited with reducing the cases of infant mortality, because it didn't spoil.

If you've ever read "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" there are a few references to condensed milk. It was a commodity that was popular with poor people because it not only added milk to their coffee, but it also sweetened it at the same time. On 60 Minutes a few weeks ago there was a story about a survivor of the Bataan Death March during WW2. He is now 98 yrs.old and he credits his survival to can of condensed milk that he kept hidden during the march and it sustained him when there was nothing else for him to eat or drink.

Evaporated milk dates from the 1880's when it was first discovered how to preserve milk without the sugar used in Condensed Milk. It became widely used in baby formulas.

Post# 942303 , Reply# 20   6/7/2017 at 16:54 (321 days old) by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

I almost always use evaporated milk in recipes. I don't know when I last bought fresh milk - it's been well over a year. I don't drink milk as it usually gives me a belly ache.

Post# 942307 , Reply# 21   6/7/2017 at 17:18 (321 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        
Whole Buttemilk

Is a must have for chocolate cakes and quick breads in the Deep South.
I am never without it.

Canned milk was much more popular when I was young, not so much now. I always keep a few cans handy. Great for biscuit gravy with some Morningstar Farms "soysage" broken up and mixed in. A close friend nearby calls it "canned cream". He puts it in everything.

When I have to make cakes in quantity I use Pillsbury mixes. Of course, I always compensate for the reduced quantity of today's mixes. So use 1 1/4 cups water.
I also always substitute a room temperature stick of unsalted butter instead of oil.
I wonder if the canned milk flavor will complement or overpower the delicate flavor of the butter?
Also, because it is more dense, I assume to keep the cake light, one has to extend the baking time?

When making a coconut cake I substitute coconut milk. Pineapple cake gets pineapple juice, etc.
Maybe a combination of juice and canned milk would create an exotic flavor?
I will have to tinker.
Although this is a great discussion amongst good cooks and bakers I do have to say that
I sure do miss Terry and Kelly

Post# 942317 , Reply# 22   6/7/2017 at 17:58 (321 days old) by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

Eddie, I did not know the dates went back so far for the evaporated and condensed milk products. Makes sense, there was a need and the science followed.

Steve, I have never used buttermilk with cakes but when I used to make biscuits, it was the only way to go. I just don't cook much anymore and this thread has me feeling the itch to go and make something with evaporated milk!

Post# 942320 , Reply# 23   6/7/2017 at 18:18 (321 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

I like to use condensed milk for a quick Rice Pudding, Custard or Bean Pie.
It is also great for those large summer "poke-cakes" you refrigerate and serve cold.

Canned milk is an ok substitute for biscuits or pancakes, however, I only use whole buttermilk and solid Crisco for good cornbread.

Post# 942326 , Reply# 24   6/7/2017 at 19:05 (321 days old) by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

ea56's profile picture
Mike, the reason I mentioned "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" was because whenever I think of condensed milk I think of that book. I never really knew what it was before I read that book, and it is set in 1912 Brooklyn. So my curiosity was peaked to look up the 411 about Condensed Milk on Wikipedia. I knew it had been around a long time, but I had no idea it went clear back to the 1850's.

I've seen cooks on TV that heat the condensed milk slowly in the can until it turns to caramel. I believe that this is a popular practice in Mexico and other Latin American countries. I've included a link on how to do this.

I'm with you about evap milk for mashed potatoes, its the best, except for sour cream. And as I've mentioned before nothing is better than evap milk for mac and cheese, scalloped potatoes or au gratin potatoes.


Post# 942332 , Reply# 25   6/7/2017 at 19:36 (321 days old) by Ultramatic (New York City)        

ultramatic's profile picture



My dad makes Limber on occasion. It's sort of like a ice of evaporated, condensed and fresh milks. Sinfully delicious.



16 ounces evaporated milk
12 ounces condensed milk
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
Add evaporated milk, condensed milk, whole milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla into a blender. Blend until all of the ingredients are well incorporated. You can add a pinch of nutmeg if desired. Pour and freeze in plastic cups or freezer popsicle molds.
Bet you just can't have one!

Forum Index:       Other Forums:                      

Comes to the Rescue!

The Discuss-o-Mat has stopped, buzzer is sounding!!!
If you would like to reply to this thread please log-in...

Discuss-O-MAT Log-In

New Members
Click Here To Sign Up.

Discuss-o-Mat Forums
Vintage Brochures, Service and Owners Manuals
Fun Vintage Washer Ephemera
See It Wash!
Video Downloads
Audio Downloads
Picture of the Day
Patent of the Day
Photos of our Collections
The Old Aberdeen Farm
Vintage Service Manuals
Vintage washer/dryer/dishwasher to sell?
Technical/service questions?
Looking for Parts?
Website related questions?
Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy
Our Privacy Policy