Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tres Leches Cake

Do you have any culinary regrets? For me, one would be the fact that I didn't make my birthday cake from scratch this year. I had a birthday fiesta a few months ago where the menu theme was inspired by Cinco de Mayo since my birthday was only a few days before. For my birthday cake, I ended up purchasing a Tres Leches Cake from a local Mexican bakery since I didn't have time to make a cake that weekend. Although the cake was good, ever since, I've wanted to make a Tres Leches Cake. Finally, I had that chance when my sister and her family came to visit. It was worth the wait because this Tres Leches Cake is most definitely better than any bakery version I've ever had...

This cake is fantastic. It's a cake that's sturdy enough to soak up the three milks it's glazed in. Topped with fresh whipped cream and garnished with macerated strawberries, it's completely heaven. The original called for preparing it in a 9x13 baking pan but I chose to do it in a springform pan instead. Regardless of which pan you make it in, make sure that it will be big enough to bake the cake in and hold the milky glaze. At first you may question how the cake will even absorb all the milk. But don't worry... chill the cake overnight with the glaze and by morning, the cake will have absorbed every drop. Once you cut into it, you'll notice how perfectly the cake captured the glaze and with the whipped cream and strawberries, it's a dessert you'll have a hard time resisting!

Tres Leches Cake
recipe from Alton Brown

Cooking spray to grease cake pans
6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces sugar
5 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half

2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


2 tablespoons sugar
1 lb strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 10-inch metal springform pan and set aside.

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Do not remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

For the glaze:
Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake overnight.

For the topping:
Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, chop up the strawberries and place in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Toss to combine and set aside until ready to serve.

To serve:
Place the cake on a serving platter. Carefully remove the ring from the springform pan. Slice the cake to serve and garnish with a spoonful of strawberries.