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There may not seem like a lot to celebrate at the moment, but on a lighter note, we have baking. It’s something people have done for centuries, in every country around the world. Some do it for fun, others do it to eat and sustain their families. I used to be asked why I baked (which used to my most FAQ), but I dunno. I just do it.

Bake From Scratch celebrates people who like to bake and when I met editor Brian Hart Hoffman, when he came to Paris to profile me in The French Issue a few years ago, we hit it off. He’s hard not to like, the definition of engaging, and a heckuva lot of fun to spend time with. We’ve kept in touch over the years, meeting up here and there, but since travel is off the agenda for a while, he sent me their latest 5th-anniversary issue, hot off the press. And when I saw this stunning Chocolate, Dulce de Leche, and Vanilla Marble Cake, I knew I had to make it.

A few years back, I created recipes for the Bake From Scratch French issue, because the magazine is American-based, I asked if it was okay if I included metric measurements and Brian replied, “Absolutely. We insist on doing everything in metrics too.” So I’m presenting the recipe which I adapted here as they do, in metrics first, which is how I measured the ingredients, along with their conversions for cups and tablespoons. (Like most recipes written in France, small quantities are expressed in teaspoons and tablespoons.)

It’s a fun recipe to make, with one batter being divided into thirds with dark chocolate bolstered with cocoa powder going into one-third of the batter, a second third getting the dulce de leche treatment, and the final third of the batter gets scented with vanilla.

Gâteau marbré isn’t a stranger in France, but one difference between French and American recipes is that precise pan sizes aren’t always specified. They often just say to pour the batter into a moule à cake (loaf pan), or simply un moule, a mold – and that’s that. As much as many visitors to France want to “live like a local,” I’m not sure if they want to bake like one. If so, let me know and I’ll stop listing pan sizes, writing headnotes, and toss my well-loved measuring cups and spoons! : )

Until I get the word, I gave this Marble Cake a go twice, baking it in two different pans. One was baked in a professional French loaf pan, which is longer than a traditional U. S. loaf pan, which tends to be wider and squatter than their French counterparts (mine is 10×3-inches), and an 8 x 4-inch cake pan, the kind that is standard in America.

The proof is in the pudding, or cake batter, and both worked just fine, although the 8-inch loaf pan threatened to flow over the top, but didn’t. So I’d go with the one I used, or the one recommended in the original recipe, which I noted in the headnote, to avoid any anxiety. Because who wants to be stressed out when baking? Certainly not me…

On that note, this cake was moist and delicious. Marble Cake isn’t always the best of both worlds, but in this case all worlds collide agreeably in each triple-hued slice.

Chocolate, Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Marble Cake

Adapted from Bake from Scratch, Fifth Anniversary Issue (Sept/Oct 2020) The original recipe called for using a 8.5 x 4.5-inch loaf pan, but the cake would work in a standard 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan. If you get confused about putting the batter in the pan in a checkerboard pattern, I put a few pictures in the post. But if you just want to put them in the pan any random way, give it a few swirls with a toothpick, and bake it off, just go ahead and do that. You're baking a cake, not perfecting your master's thesis. I have a large collection of spring-loaded ice cream scoops but if you don't, you can use two soup spoons to put the batter into the loaf pan. Use one spoon to scoop up the batter and the other to scrape it off, to release it and drop it into the loaf pan. Dulce de leche is available in well-stocked supermarkets and online. You can also make Dulce de leche at home.
Servings 8 servings
  • 170 grams (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 300 grams (1 1/2 cups) sugar
  • 60 grams (2 1/4 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 80 grams (1/4 cup) dulce de leche
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 220 grams (1 3/4 cups) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 125 grams (1/2 cup) sour cream or buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Spray a loaf pan with baking spray or butter it. Sprinkle the pan with a little flour and tap out the excess. Cut a strip of parchment paper so it'll fit in the cake pan with overhanging edges (overhanging the longer sides) which will help you get the cake out later, as shown in the post.
  • Preheat the oven to 300ºF (150ºC.)
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice.
  • While the butter and sugar are beating, put the chopped
    in a moisture-free, medium-size bowl and set it over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring gently until smooth. Turn off the heat but keep the bowl over the water so it stays warm.
  • Put the
    dulce de leche
    in a medium-size microwavable bowl and heat it for about 30 seconds until it's soft and fluid. If you don't have a microwave oven you can warm it in a small saucepan, then pour it into a medium-size bowl.
  • When the butter and sugar is light and fluffy, Add the eggs one at a time with the mixer on medium speed, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl.
  • Using a flexible silicone or spatula, mix one-third of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture just until it's almost all mixed in. (Don't overbeat the batter when adding any of the ingredients during this step or you can end of with cake with tunnels or tough cake.) Stir in half of the sour cream or buttermilk, then half of the remaining dry ingredients. Add the rest of the sour cream or buttermilk then the rest of the dry ingredients, stirring just until everything is incorporated, but no more.
  • Divide the batter into three portions; put one third (about 300g/1 1/3 cups) in the bowl with the
    melted chocolate
    and stir them together along with the
    cocoa powder
    . Add another third of the batter in the bowl with the
    dulce de leche
    and stir until combined. Stir the
    vanilla extract
    into the remaining one-third of the batter in the mixing bowl.
  • Using spring-loaded ice cream scoops, one for each batter if you have them, make five rows of
    batter side-by-side in an alternating pattern down both sides of the pan. (As shown in the post.) Add scoops of the
    dulce de leche
    batter down the center of the pan. Tap the pan lightly on the counter to settle the batters.
  • Working to create a checkerboard, for the next layer, put scoops of
    batter over the scoops of
    batter in the pan, then put scoops of
    dulce de leche
    batter over the scoops of
    batter in the pan. Finish (well, almost!) with scoops of
    batter down the center of the pan. scoops of leftover batters on top of the scoops of batter in the cake pan. Tap the pan on the counter to settle the batters and remove air pockets. Use a toothpick or butter knife to run it through the batter about six or seven times, so they're mingling with each other.
  • Bake the cake until the center is just set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour, 30 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then use the parchment to lift the cake out of the pan and cool on a wire rack.


    • Dawn

    Which dulce de leche brands do you recommend ordering online when one is not making from scratch? Also, please always keep your headnotes and pan recommendations! Thank you!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I can’t really recommend any particular brand but lean towards ones from Central or South America, although those made elsewhere are good too. But most have no additives (they’re not really necessary) so look for a brand that doesn’t have any.

        • Dulce de leche connoisseur

        David, I’m from Argentina, where we put dulce de leche in everything and argue that we invented it. The confiture de lait from Monoprix is by far the best non-Local dulce de leche I’ve ever had. Miles beyond canned La Lechera, condensed milk versions, and South American brands made for export. Give it a try!

          • David
          David Lebovitz

          Thanks for chiming in! I used to get dulce de leche from the shop on rue Paul Bert, La Cocotte, and hers was fantastic (I think the owner was from Venezuela?) but French confiture de lait can be very good, although usually when I need it, I just make it myself ;)

          • Annette

          When I hear dulce de leche I have automatically think of South America !

    • Lynn Milgrom Wainess

    In step 3 you say, ‘beat the butter and sugar’ but in the next step you say, ‘while the eggs and sugar are beating’. I believe Step 4 should say, ‘while the eggs and sugar are beating’?

    Thanks for catching that. Fixed! : ) -dl

      • Terry Hickman

      That caught my eye, too, but when I read further the eggs aren’t added until Step 6, so maybe Step 4 should say “While the butter and sugar are beating”?

    • dave trevena

    Used to make loads of marble cakes, also called rainbow cakes in Cornwall… but when loading this version in the tin, put a level layer of vanilla batter in the bottom, then a level layer of the Dulce de Leche, then finish with the chocolate layer on top. As the batter starts to melt and cook, the heavier chocolate layer starts to sink down through, and the light vanilla layer rises up through so it creates its own interesting pattern when cut, hardly ever the same pattern! Like a lucky dip, you won’t know how it will look until you cut it!

    • Terry Hickman

    I appreciate your notes and pan sizes, too! I like having both metric and American measurements as well, since it helps me learn equivalents for when other recipes don’t have American measurements.

    • Susan Riggs

    This looks ands sounds so delicious. I wish I were a baker, but alas, I am not. As a former donut make in the local Donut Hut in the town I grew up in, I like to tell myself that your recipes will inspire me enough to start baking-but to be honest I am just a voyeur. But a very happy voyeur! Merci beaucoup for such great posts.

    • Kit

    Please continue the pan sizes, head notes and measuring spoons! As an American living in France permanently, I also appreciate French substitutions for American ingredients as well as where to find them. Our numbers will increase if the elections go the wrong way!

      • Kimberly

      can this be made in a different pan size or shape? say for example in a silicon mold? i dont have a loaf pan but i really wanna try and make this one bec it looks so good.

        • David
        David Lebovitz

        Sure, as long as it has the same capacity as a loaf pan, it should come out fine. King Arthur has a list of baking pan capacities here.

    • Sarah n-j

    I love baking but I am an anxious baker, so I guess I wouldn’t make a very good French baker. Please keep up with your headnotes, pan sizes, and helpful photos. These are some of the reasons why I actually attempt so many of your recipes and why they always seem to turn out for me. I’ll be trying this recipe too, because I love loaf cakes. My mother, not much of a baker, made many different tea loaves and I have kept up the tradition.

      • Toni

      Uh…no. Do not stop listing or writing, and absolutely no tossing!

    • EllieB

    thanks for this post.
    wondering if there is any risk for the batter not to come together, or have less evenly dense areas when its arranged by scoops by color. The beating of the eggs might create air pockets? Any hints on risk management would be appreciated.

      • Lainie Freeman

      Notice that David’s instructions say to tap the loaf pan on the counter ( I do it at the end of filling it with batter). This should encourage any air bubbles to rise to the top and burst so no air pockets!

    • Cathy

    Yes, we have baking! Thank you, David! This cake is perfect for this week.

    • Lorraine Fina Stevenski

    I was interested in this recipe too when I saw it in Bake From Scratch (my favorite magazine). But I really do think the chocolate overpowers the Dulche de Leche, although a good baking concept. I made this cake without the chocolate and it was really perfect and in a 10″ loaf pan. I just used the batter to make more vanilla. Thanks for your post David.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Lorraine, I found the dulce de leche wasn’t as strong as the chocolate, but on one try I sprinkled a few flakes of fleur de sel flaky sea salt in the dulce de leche batter and found that brought the flavor out a little more. But the recipe (and headnote) was getting long-winded and I didn’t want to add too much to it, so didn’t include it in the recipe. But if you try it again you might want to give that a try.

      • Sue

      Much as the tri-color idea sounds like fun, I had the same thought about the dulce being milder and thought that I might skip the vanilla in favor of making two parts dulce and one part chocolate. My only concern is that omitting the vanilla will make the whole cake heavier, and maybe the vanilla contributes to the overall texture of the cake

    • patty

    I have an oversized vintage loaf pan that will be perfect for this cake. I have never been disappointed with anything I have baked using a recipe from Baked from Scratch! Last month I made a peanut butter cake with Swiss buttercream caramel icing and was it ever good!

    • Nancy

    My spirits soar with every issue of Bake from Scratch magazine that arrives in my mailbox. This one was no exception. I have made this delightful bread twice already! One to share with a friend on her birthday when met we at a local forest preserve, a la Covid style. What remains of the second loaf is safely tucked away in my freezer for a rainy, or snowy, (it is almost November in Chicago, and we’ve already seen a few flakes), day. If it’s possible to improve on the experience, mascarpone can do it.

    • Ellen

    Could you bake this in a bundt pan?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I think so. You’d likely have to increase the quantities as most bundt pans are larger. You could measure how much larger your bundt pan in, in comparison to the capacity of a loaf pan, and increase them accordingly. You may also find a pan comparison chart online somewhere that’ll tell you that info as well. If you do make it in a bundt pan, let us know your results!

    • MR in NJ

    David! I made a pan of your dulce de leche brownies for a chocoholic friend’s birthday recently (celebrated months late due to pandemic) and she swooned! She reads your blog, too, and had admired them.

    I bought a couple of extra cans of the condensed milk; now I know what I will do with one of them. (But this one will be for me.)

    As a side note, when I saw the photos of a scoop dropping lovely globes into a baking pan, I thought you had accidentally posted photos from an ice cream recipe. Although it looked more like gelato.

    • Barbara

    Please do not omit the pan sizes or the metric measurements – both are essential to consistent baking results. I scale all ingredients – especially for baking, but also for freezing items for later use. Thank you for great recipes and stories.

    • Julie Hock

    I prefer metric measurements, here in Australia we also use cups/teaspoons etc. We also have self raising flour and I have often wondered whether one could use that instead of plain flour and baking powder. Your thoughts David?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      If regular all-purpose flour is available, and baking powder, I would use them since that’s what the recipe calls for. Self-rising flour I believe has more leavening in it so the results would be different.

    • Nfonca

    PLEASE continue the metric and Imperial measures. I’ve found weighing has made a huge improvement in my baking! Also, the tin sizes help me use the correct one and if necessary, up&down size.

    I made this today using dulce de Leche left over from last week’s yummy dulce de Leche brownies.

    Decided to try the layering suggestion of Dave Trevena, above. I also ran zigzags through the layers several times.

    I have just sliced into a tasty Neapolitan-ice cream looking loaf. Lol! Three distinct layers. The vanilla did not rise and the chocolate did not wiggle down. Next time, I’ll scoop.

    Tasty regardless of layers or checkerboards!

    • Elizabeth

    This looks delicious! I cannot wait to make it.

    • El Aitch

    It looks delicious! Thank you!
    When you say “flour”, what kind of flour are you talking about?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      All-purpose flour in the U.S., type 65 in France.

    • Grace from Vancouver

    This is a wonderful recipe and evoked memories of a marble cake my sephardic grandmother used to make.
    This one is a marble cake on steroids ( sorry baba). I made my own dulce de leche and made ice cream with the remainder. The one tin of condensed milk made more than I needed. The cakes was eaten by my husband, housekeeper , and an elderly lady who lives next door. They were all were humming ,literally, after a few bites and I wonder if this is a property of this cake :)

    • Greg in Berkeley

    I scored some Clover brand European style butter at Grocery Outlet last weekend and this is the perfect recipe to make with it! I can’t wait to make it!

    • Laurie

    I appreciate the use of metric measurements…especially for baking.
    Specifically for butter, flour, and confectioners (powdered) sugar.

    • ELCookie

    Just baked this and got rave reviews but definitely not cooked after 1½ hours at 300. Rised the temp to 350 for 15 more minutes. Shouldn’t the oven temperature be higher? 300 is low.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      The original recipe said to bake it at 300ºF for 1hr, 40 mins or up to 1hr, 50 mins, but I baked it twice in my oven (which is fitted with an oven thermometer, and it was done at the 1hr, 30mn mark. I encourage people to use visual and tactile clues for checking for doneness in recipes, which is why I put those first – so folks will use those rather, than adhere to strict numbers as baking times can vary based on ingredients, oven, etc. But baking times do vary so thanks for your feedback & glad your friends/family liked the cake!

        • ELCookie

        Making it again to bring to my MIL who we have not seen since March. She is from Bogata and loves dulce de leche. Thank you for the reply.

        • Grace

        Agreed. An oven thermometer is a must. My cake was done exactly at 1 hr and 30mm as well. In addition, one of the most essential thermometers is an instant-read. It is the best way to determine “doneness” in cakes and bread. Challah is a staple at my house and without an instant-read thermometer it would be impossible to determine readiness…

    • Diane Campbell

    Love your posts. Agree with almost all the above except… a tablespoon isn’t that constant, I think the US one is 15mL not 20 mL? Rarely matters unless its baking powder, and then it absolutely does!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, tablespoons can vary but the general conscientious, even in France, is that 15ml quantity. ANd you’re right on baking powder – although any recipe that has a tablespoon of baking powder might be a goof (that’s a lot!)

        • Diane Campbell

        thanks, I have a couple that do, usually pretty heavy with almond meal or similar. 20mL is sort of standard in Oz.

    • Bocconcino

    Hi, great recipe. In Romania this is called “chec” is like a sponge cake with chocolate. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    • Nikki Moranville

    No, please! No tossing. We are part of the year in the USA and part of the year in France (and hopefully that can happen once again by next year). I need your input on pans! Thanks for you posts. I look so forward to them.

    • Patrice Halbach

    David, I made this yesterday in a 9”x5” pan. It’s delicious and the pan size was perfect. While it looks a little putzy to put together, it was very straightforward. I’m going to make this with my grandchildren if I ever get to bake with them again.

    • Ellen N.

    I made this cake yesterday, Wow, it’s perfect! All three batters pack a lot of flavor plus the cake is moist and tender. My husband, who normally is indifferent to chocolate, ate two slices as soon as the cake was cool enough to eat.

    I used a 9″ X 5″ loaf pan. The batter filled the pan and crowned in the middle.

    Per David Lebovitz’s suggestion in the comments, I added some fleur de sel to the dulce de leche.

    I am so appreciative of David Lebovitz’s generosity in sharing so many fantastic recipes.

    • Lee

    My heart always sinks when a recipe starts with “in the bowl of a stand mixer”. While I have a well stocked batterie de cuisine I don’t have stand mixer (no room). I have a hand-held mixer. What did French grandmeres do when they had to bake and had no stand mixers?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      You can almost always use a hand-held mixer or just a spoon with a big bowl. I usually include instructions for doing that as well but this recipe was a little more complex to explain and didn’t want to make writing it up overly lengthy, so feel free to mix the batter in a bowl with a spatula, or wooden or stainless steel spoon.

    • Dawn

    Made this beauty last night after work. Just needed a delicious distraction. Lots of bowls required! Came out pretty well and made a nice treat with my morning coffee. Also, just read the newsletter, and, David, thanks for being you and spreading goodness.

    • Harlow

    May I freeze this after baking? Shelf life?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Sure. I’d say up to the months in the freezer…

    • Todd Lockhart

    This recipe for me is a great way not to waste the delicious remaining dulce de leche I made following your recipe about 10 days ago that go into your brownie recipe.

    My question is how long does scratch-made dulce de leche last in the frigo?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know exactly but mine seems to last for months in a glass jar.

        • Todd Lockhart

        Merci! Then 10 days should be fine.
        Joyeux reconfinement! (just kidding, good luck with it).

    • Tobie R Lurie

    This cake looks great. I’ve been baking way too much in the past 7 months and the scale shows it. Thank you for the metrics. Makes a lot of sense to me. I get very peeved with recipes that are not specific–like use 1 carrot rather than 1/2 cup or 50 gm carrots. One carrot can be lots of weight or take up lots of volumn.

    • Lynne

    Hi… can I double this recipe and make it in a Bundt or tube pan?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      You would probably want to compare the size of your loaf pan versus the size of your bundt pan to see if it would hold double the batter. Because I haven’t tried it, I don’t know but am pretty sure you could. If you do try it, let us know how it turns out!

        • Lynne

        I doubled the recipe and baked it for 90 minutes in a Nordicware Original Bundt pan. It came out perfect! What a yummy cake!

    • bethh

    I bake in the US and I rely on your metric weights!

    I made this last night – it was done in 90 minutes at 300 degrees.

    It came out a bit heavy, though. I noticed my dulce de leche batter was a lot runnier than yours is – and I can see yours is a bit runnier than the chocolate or vanilla batches. But mine was much more liquid and I wonder if that weighed down the cake as it baked. It looks okay and tastes okay but I would not submit mine to a baking contest yet!

    Fortunately I’m bringing it to a small gathering tomorrow night dedicated to drinking and eating our stress, so I’m sure it’ll be happily consumed.

    • AbKir

    Hi David, do you think a homemade caramel sauce would be an okay substitute for dulce de leche? thanks xox

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I think so, if it’s quite thick. If you do try it, let us know how it works out!

        • AbKir

        I can happily report back: a thick caramel sauce works!. I had leftover salted caramel in the fridge, heated it in the microwave to soften it up and it mixed into the batter perfectly. Tasted great.

          • David
          David Lebovitz

          Thanks for checking back in and letting us know!

    • Diane Campbell

    1/4 teaspoon baking powder to 220g flour and a lot of other stuff? DOesn’t sound like much? It looks so good!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Interestingly, the original poundcake (which this sort of is) didn’t have leavening in it because it didn’t exist. When chemical leavening (baking powder) was introduced, it started being added. So cake doesn’t necessarily need a lot of it and I made this one twice and didn’t think it needed more than indicated.

    • Carole

    This cake is extraordinary. I decided to ‘stress’ bake yesterday instead of watching election results, and this is absolutely fabulous.

    • Scott M.

    This cake is outstanding and a great distraction from waiting for election results. I almost used just chocolate and vanilla, rather than go to the trouble of making the dulce de leche. I am so glad I didn’t. The dulce de leche parts really elevated the whole.

    • Sandy

    Hi, I’ve made the cake twice now (once the original recipe which was ridiculously delicious and once with just white chocolate which was also yummy). I particularly like how soft the cake comes out, it’s not dry at all.
    Which leads me to my question: do you think I could use that recipe to bake a 3 tiered 15cm birthday cake (straight up vanilla), add buttercream and jam inbetween the layers and finish it off with buttercream all around?
    Many thanks in advance!

    • Lisa

    This cake is beautiful. I made it last week and it was very impressive. It makes a lot of dishes but is so delicious I think it’s worth it. My batter was not as thick as the picture and did not drop into the pan in scoops that help their shape but it still looked like the picture and cooked up with a beautiful texture and flavor. Now to make Dulce de Leche Brownies….

    • indira

    A simple vanilla and chocolate marble cake is one of my favourites and this looks absolutely delicious. I’m hoping to make it later today. And please do continue with the head notes and tin sizes, the anxious baker in me finds them so useful!

    Sour cream and buttermilk aren’t as easily available in my local area unless I trek a little further to the bigger supermarket so I wondered whether you could substitute that with a bit of Greek yoghurt (perhaps watered down with a little milk)? I’ve made cakes with yoghurt before but I’m not an expert on baking so I didn’t know if yoghurt acts in a different way to sour cream or buttermilk when baked with!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Most acidic dairy ingredients act similarly. Greek yogurt, if using, can be quite thick so I’d thin it with a little milk so it’s the consistency of sour cream or plain yogurt. I am not sure about the acidity of Greek yogurt so you could add around 1/2 teaspoon white or cider vinegar, or lemon juice to it as well, just to give it a boost : )

    • Petra

    300g sugar? Isn’t that crazy sweet…

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I wouldn’t have shared the recipe if I found it overly-sweet but if you are looking for low-sugar dessert recipes, check my suggestions here.

    • David

    David, thanks. I made this and it’s an excellent marble cake (and I love marble cakes and have made many). Next time I make it though, I think I will leave out the dulce de leche component and make it a more simple chocolate and vanilla marble cake. I didn’t think the dulce added enough to it.

    • Chris

    Hi! When you say “Rice Flour” in a recipe, do you mean brown rice flour or sweet rice flour? Thanks!!

    • Stefanie

    This cake is so good I had to make it twice in one week even though I ended up dirtying every bowl and spoon in my kitchen! Totally worth it!!

    • Helene Glass

    Hi David –

    can you substitute creme fraîche for the sour cream in this recipe? or is the buttermilk preferable? Thanks

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve made it with lowfat crème fraîche, which has around the same butterfat as sour cream (15-18%) and it worked great. I’m sure thicker crème fraîche would work but you may want to thin it with a bit of milk.


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