The Tres Leches cake is a very popular dessert in Mexico. It is a yellow cake soaked in a mixture of three milks. (Don't worry, it's all from a cow!) Now, I've had my share of Tres Leches cakes. Some good, some not so good, a couple were just inedible and few have been extraordinary.
The three milk mixture is easy. Almost every recipe is the same. All you need is evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and either heavy cream or regular milk. Depends on the cook's taste. I prefer my third milk to be half-and-half. (For those of you in Mexico, use a can of Media Crema.)
What makes or breaks a Tres Leches cake is the actual cake. You don't want it to be too sweet because the three milks mixture is sweet enough. Nor do you want the cake to be too heavy, because the three milks mixture won't make it's way through the entire cake.
I've tasted a few Tres Leches cakes that were made with pancake flour. Not bad, but the saltiness of the pancake flour overpowers the sweet creaminess of the milk mixture. The best Tres Leches cake I ever tasted was the one made by a lady at our church for my very first Baby Shower. Mmmm! It was the perfect balance. The cake was tasty with a good texture that didn't get lost in all that milk. I later asked that lady for her recipe and she gladly told me her little secret...Yellow Cake Mix, from a box!
While I lived in the States, I made my Tres Leches cake using Yellow Cake Mix. The result was always the same, delicioso! But that all changed when I moved to Mexico. There were no boxes of yellow cake mix! Now what was I supposed to do? Well, I tried all kinds of recipes. I bought a Mexican cookbook that had every Mexican dessert known to man, but the cake was just plain nasty! I tried a few recipes that called for pancake flour. Pretty good, but not the taste that I was looking for. Finally, I played around with the recipes and came up with one that works well for me. But if you want to use the box mix, go right ahead!
One question remains; to fill or not to fill? I like Tres Leches cakes so much, that it really doesn't matter if it is filled or not. The 2 layer cakes are usually filled with strawberry jam or canned peach slices, which is all very good, but be sure that you bathe the bottom layer with half of the milk mixture, add the filling, then top with the other cake layer. Bathe the top layer with the milk mixture after you've put it in place! This recipe makes one 8 or 9 inch layer cake or one 10 inch one layer cake.
Pastel de Tres Leches
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400º F. Grease bottom of 10-inch round cake pan and line with waxed paper or parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add eggs and vanilla to creamed mixture and beat until thoroughly mixed. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition. Continue beating one minute. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to heatproof plate. Poke holes all over cake with a toothpick or wooden skewer. Gradually ladle some of the Three Milks Mixture over cake. Wait a few minutes until cake has had a chance to absorb the milk. (Do NOT pour all of the Three Milks Mixture over cake at once!) Repeat process until all of the Three Milks Mixture has been absorbed. Refrigerate atleast 3 hours or overnight.
To serve, frost cake with Whipped Cream Topping or Sweetened Whipped Cream. Garnish with fresh sliced strawberries. Enjoy!!!
Three Milks Mixture
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 cup half-and-half
In a medium bowl, whisk together all three milks until well combined. Gradually spoon over cake.