WARNING: A LOT OF RAMBLING BEFORE THE ACTUAL RECIPE!
Just in time for Cinco de Mayo! Here is a cake I have been obsessed with lately! It's not my fault. It all started with a friend, Mindy. She was obsessed with it after having it at our friend Olga's house, so she suggested we buy one from the same place Olga did and serve it for Enrichment last week. So good! Then I told Jen about it and that I wanted to find a good recipe for it, and she became obsessed right along with us. She found quite a few recipes on the internet, and we looked at the ingredients on each one (comparing the milk mixtures, how many eggs - I picked the one with 8 eggs!) before settling on the recipe I would try. Crazy, huh? If you haven't had this cake, it is soaked in a mixture of 3 different kinds of milk. Of all the recipes we looked at, the combinations of milk included different mixtures of the following: sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, and plain old milk. The recipe I tried actually used 4 kinds - the fourth one being Crema Mexicana. (The person who made it didn't have enough cream on hand so added some Crema Mexicana to the mixture .)
I made this cake last night, but it actually tasted better today after soaking in the milk all night long. I took some to Olga this afternoon and she approved! She told me she usually takes a piece of thread and slices the cake down the middle (horizontally) to make two layers. She puts the milk mixture on each half, and then puts a layer of whipped topping mixed with chopped strawberries in the middle of the two layers.
And here you have wikipedia's explanation: A Tres leches cake, or Pastel de Tres leches ("Three milk cake"), is a sponge cake,—in some recipes, a butter cake—soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. When butter is not used, the tres leches is a very light cake, with many air bubbles (that's how this cake was). This distinct texture is why it does not have a soggy consistency, despite being soaked in a mixture of three types of milk.
One last thing from me - I didn't do the berry sauce. I've never had tres leches that way, but it sounds good. I just put strawberries on top. And looky here - we made it to the actual recipe!
Pastel de Tres Leches
For the Sponge cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose bleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 eggs, separated
2 cups extra-fine sugar, such as Baker's (I used normal sugar)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
For the milk topping:
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 can (14 ounces) condensed milk
8 ounces heavy cream
1/2 cup crema Mexicana, or substitute heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
For the Berry sauce: (if you try it, let me know!)
1 (16 ounces) package frozen blackberries, thawed
1/4 cup sugar
For the Whipped cream icing:
8 ounces heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar (I used 2 Tbsp)
1 teaspoon pure vanillaINSTRUCTIONS:
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Mist a 9 x 13-inch baking pan (I use a glass pan) with baking spray. Line bottom with parchment and mist.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
In a large bowl of a standing mixer, or with a hand-held mixer, whip egg whites on medium speed to soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar; raise speed to high and continue whipping to stiff peaks.
Reduce speed to low, and beat in yolks one by one. Beat in the lime juice and vanilla.
Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, in two or three additions, ending with the flour. Stop the mixer when all the flour is just in. Use a spatula to quickly and gently finish folding in all the flour until it is just moistened and there are no dry spots. The batter will be thick and slightly lumpy.
Pour into the prepared baking dish. Tap on counter to release air bubbles. Bake for 30-35 minutes (oh yeah - I had to bake mine for about 50 minutes!) (exact time will depend on whether your pan is metal or glass), or until cake is golden and center springs back when touched.
For the topping: While cake is baking, whisk together evaporated milk, condensed milk, heavy cream, crema Mexicana and vanilla.
Cool cake on long baking rack for 10 minutes and then release along the sides with a thin knife . Place rack on top of dish and turn over to release. Allow cake to cool upside down for another 20-30 minutes.
Next turn cake right-side up onto a long, serving dish with a rim to catch the excess milk topping. Poke holes in the cake with a steak knife or skewer. Pour 1 cup of the milk topping over entire top of cake. Wait until it soaks in and then repeat. When the topping is absorbed, pour over another cup of topping.
You can keep pouring on the milk cup by cup until all of it is used up, or you can save 1/2 cup to serve along with the cake as a side since people seem to like it so much they want to lick their plates.
Cover the cake and plate well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 hours, or overnight.
Optional -- For the sauce: Meanwhile, puree thawed blackberries in food processor with the sugar. Pour into a wire strainer and tap edge so puree goes through leaving behind the seeds. Place sauce in covered container until ready to serve the cake.
For the icing: An hour before serving cake, whip the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread smoothly over the top of the cake. Put cake back in the refrigerator until serving time. Optional -- Cut cake in 4-inch squares and place each on a pool of berry sauce. Scatter raspberries and blackberries around the edge of plate and serve with any reserved milk topping.