Daring Bakers – “Tres Leches Cake”

Three milks Cake with fruits
Three milks Cake with fruits

Okay, so this is my first post being part of Daring Bakers Challenge. For all you people who do not know what daring bakers is should know its a fun community of bloggers who participate in a monthly challenge shared by another blogger. We all make whatever the challenge is and show it at the end of the month or the time we are suppose to post it. I was so looking forward to be a part of the community because it would just give me another chance to bake every month, kind of compulsory, although I bake a lot. But, I also wanted to try baking different things and expand my baking journal.

So, I decided to join the Daring Bakers community. Here we go with challenge.

Three Milks Cake
Three Milks Cake

Inma of la Galletika was our Sept. 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy.. just plain delish!

I had never tried Tres Leches cake before neither baked it nor tried it at any restaurant. Half of the time, I am full with the appetizers and entree and there is no place for dessert in my stomach. Oh no, now I know what I have been missing.

Pastel De Tres Leches or Three milk cake as it known as is very popular dessert from Central and South America. If you search the web probably you would find about 6 versions from different parts of Central and South America – Dominican, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Nicaraguan, Cuban, Peruvian. But, at the end all these  Pastel de tres leches consisted of the same three elements: a cake soaked in a sweet milk mixture and topped with whipped cream or meringue. It is basically a sponge or butter cake soaked into three kinds of milk – Evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream/ milk.

So, without further do , here’s the recipe of Pastel De Tres Leches shared by Inma Miranda our daring baker host of September.

I followed the exact recipe and felt that I did the right thing. Though, I made some changes in terms of sweetness.

Vanilla Sponge Cake :

5 – large eggs, separated

1/4 – cup Sugar (I reduced sugar from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup) if you like sweet then go with 1/2 cup)

2 – teaspoons Vanilla extract

1 – cup All purpose Flour

Method :

Preheat the oven at 350 F and line a 9 ” by 9″ inches square baking dish or a round baking pan of the same size with parchment paper and grease it with butter. Leave it aside till you make the cake batter.

To make the cake batter, separate egg yolks from egg whites.

Take the egg whites in a kitchen aid mixer and whip them up on medium speed for about 3 – 5 minutes and once they have soft peaks , gradually start adding the sugar and keep whipping. Once you see soft to medium peaks time to stop whipping them further and leave them aside.

Whipped up egg whites - looks like clouds
Whipped up egg whites – looks like clouds

Take yolks in either another bowl or transfer the whipped meringue/ egg whites into another bowl and use the same bowl for whisking the egg yolks. Turn on the mixer and whisk the yolks on medium to high speed until they look pale light yellow and fluffy, add in the vanilla. Mix it well.

Pour the whipped yolks to the whipped whites and gently and fold them both together without loosing the air or volume that we created in them.

Fold in the flour gradually starting off with little by little and make sure you mix it gradually and gently or else the cake would turn up denser.

Transfer the batter to a prepared pan. And, bake it for 20 – 25 minutes in a preheated oven or until the toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Till the cake is baking in the oven you can make the milk sauce recipe below.

Let the cake cool for few minutes till you can handle it. Transfer it to a serving plate which has slight edges to it and is not totally flat without edges. Do not forget to remove the parchment paper. At this stage if you have made a round cake and wish to split it into two parts , you can also do that. I did not cut it into two parts. But , for someone’s birthday or celebration cake it is a good idea to split it and make it two layer cake.

With the help of a fork try to poke the cake and make holes, so that it absorbs and holds the milk mixture well. Just like this picture.

Sponge cake with holes
Sponge cake with holes

For Three milks Sauce:

1- Can  14 oz condensed milk

1 – Can 12 oz Evaporated milk

1 – Cup  heavy or milk,

(you can also substitute it with coconut milk) I was so freaked out of using all heavy cream so I actually used 1/4 cup Heavy cream and rest of 3/4 milk  instead of full cup of heavy cream)

1 – stick of Cinnamon or 1 tsp of cardamom powder

2 – tsp  any flavoring of your choice – rum, extracts, or orange blossom water.

Mix all the three milks and boil them in a saucepan along with cinnamon stick and let it cool before pouring it on the sponge. Once it cools down , add the flavoring.

With the help of a cup, start pouring the milk sauce into your sponge cake. at first, you will freak out with the quantity of milk sauce but trust me it will all go away or soaked up into that sponge. Trust me on this. I was planning on reserving the sauce for later use. But seriously, in minutes, all that sauce, I was pouring was getting soaked up quickly . All that planning to reserve some milk sauce changed all of a sudden. Place the cake in the fridge or leave it outside as it is.

Milk sauce got absorbed
Milk sauce got absorbed

Note – If you plan to make a two layer cake then pour or brush the cake layers separately with the milk mixture. Then add a layer of whipped cream and fruits and again frost it with whipped cream to seal it and garnish it as you wish.

Whipped Cream and choice of Fruits for garnish or topping :

1 – cup of Heavy Cream

1/4 –  cup of Sugar

Fruits of your choice

In a kitchen aid mixer or with the help of a blender, start whipping cold heavy cream on medium speed. After sometime, gradually start adding the sugar and whip it till soft and nice fluffy peaks are formed.

Spread the whipped cream on the cake , you can also pipe the whipped cream if you are in the mood of piping and going all fancy. Garnish with fruits of your choice.

Ready to serve Tres Leches Cake
Ready to serve Tres Leches Cake

I found that with all that milk flavor, citrus fruits work best. I dressed it up with kiwi and strawberries. Try it with orange or mango, berries etc. Lots of people also use toasted coconut flakes or caramel sauce.

You can also try making a chocolate sponge cake. Another thing, I feel is a sponge cake absorbs and holds milk sauce better then a butter cake. It was light and moist and airy.

Both my husband and I agree that the cake tastes best when it is rested in the refrigerator. It holds up better with all that milk.

The inside of a Tres Leches Cake
The inside of a Tres Leches Cake

It is absolutely delicious. Thanks Inma Miranda for the opportunity and Daring Bakers.


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