Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Got Milk? {Tres Leches Cake}

Milk, it does a body good. And it makes for an even better cake!
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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:
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

Ingredients:

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half

Directions:
In a medium bowl, whisk together all three milks until well combined. Gradually spoon over cake.



With Love,
Leslie Limon

8 comments:

  1. Can you believe I made this cake for my fiance back in May and he was really suprised that I did good on my 1st try. I made . 1 was filled with pineapple with pineapple on top. The other had peaches on top, he was impressed. I am going to try this recipe soon.

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  2. Im so glad you posted this I cant wait to try.

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  3. I love reading all your recipes. Many times asking some of my mexican friends their recipes can be so vague, which I can understand. I don't ever measure for any of the dishes I regularly make because you just get the hang of it. I have pleasantly surprised my husband with many dishes I have blindly to myself to make just from taste (from a tqueria). I was wondering if the media crema you use is the one from a can if so, we do have that here. I don't know if I just live in a very accesible area or what but I seem to have all these things that you say I shouldn't be able to find up here.. so either the stores are getting better or I'm just lucky. Anyways I'm going to make a test run of this cake for a friends bday and then again for my suegras birthday. She's coming to visit in 2 weeks. Thnks for the great recipes and details.
    Taylor

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  4. Hi Taylor! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. All comments are greatly appreciated.

    To answer your question, yes the media crema I use is the kind in the can. If I were in the States, I would use half-and-half.

    As far as not being able to find things, I live in a small town. Not one large grocery store in sight. All we have is a mercado and a few tiny shops. And I don't visit the larger towns/cities often. Most ingredients are easy to find if you live in a larger town or a big city. I stock up on hard to find items when I do visit the city. Where do you live?

    Well, I hope you enjoy the cake! :D

    With Love,
    Leslie Limon

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  5. I live near Tacoma, WA; but my husband is from Atemejac de Brizuela, Jalisco. Maybe your familiar with it, its a small town east of guadalajara. Anyways, I love to cook when I'm not rushed but I have a little guy so that's not to often. Today I made pozole. Yum and thinking the tres leches cake for this weekend.

    Oh had a question I just noticed my market now has "dried pozole" in the bulk food section. Do you know what to do with it. I have always just used the canned stuff. Is it worth the extra effort?
    Thanks,
    Taylor

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  6. Hi Taylor! Nice to hear from you again. To answer your question about the "dried pozole". I imagine it's dried hominy. If it has a purple/pink color to it, it is "Maiz Negro". Both the purple and white dried hominy are used to make pozole. There are a few extra steps, like precooking the hominy with lye, then rinsing it and adding it to your pozole. But the taste is so much better than anything you can find in a can.

    With Love,
    Leslie Limon

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  7. O.O I didn't realize such goodness could be made by a mere mortal like myself.

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