The Boastful Baker

because every cook praises her own broth

“Yeah, that was pretty awesome.”

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365.2.142 : Three kinds of milk makes it three times better.

That’s what I was told was said about my Tres Leches cake.

I’ve wanted to make a homemade Tres Leches cake for the last few years. Okay, I’ve wanted to make a homemade Tres Leches cake since the very first bite I had of one at Kuba Kuba, a Cuban restaurant in Richmond, VA.

Their version is two thick layers of milk soaked cake, sandwiched with meringue icing and then topped with more meringue icing. It’s fantastic. We go to Kuba Kuba for dinner at least a couple of times a year but rarely do I have enough room for their Tres Leches cake as their Cuban pork with black beans and rice entree is so ginormous and delicious.

If you’re not familiar with Tres Leches cake, you should get acquainted as soon as possible. Unless you’re lactose intolerant. If that’s the case, I am very sorry for this post and for taunting you. Also, if you’re concerned about calories, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to stay away from this cake.

Tres Leches cake is a dense sponge cake capable of absorbing lots of liquid. In this case, it’s going to absorb lots and lots of a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and regular whole milk. By the time you serve a slice of the cake, it should be pretty much dripping milk all over the plate.

Unlike the version served at Kuba Kuba, I chose to top my Tres Leches cake with lots of whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. While the meringue version is good, I’m partial to the whipped cream version. That might be because I have a deep love of whipped cream but only a mild like of meringue.

Because this was my first time making a cake of this type, I pretty much stuck to the recipe I found in a recent Everyday Food magazine. I chose this recipe as it was the least complicated of the ones I had in my collection.

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake

Slightly adapted from recipe in Everyday Food magazine

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (I used kosher salt)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer (or in the bowl of your standing mixer), beat eggs and 3/4 cup sugar on high until pale and thick, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla and beat to combine.
  5. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine.
  6. With a rubber spatula, fold in melted butter until incorporated.
  7. Transfer batter to baking dish and bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes our clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Rotate dish halfway through.
  8. In a medium bowl, whisk together the three milks.
  9. Poke warm cake all over with a wooden skewer or toothpick, then pour milk mixture over top of cake and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
  10. Whip cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar to medium peaks. To serve, spread whipped cream evenly over cooled cake.
  11. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

A couple of side notes:

I sprinkled the top of the whipped cream with a bit of cinnamon. Do that if you like but don’t feel it’s required.

I was afraid this was a cake that wouldn’t keep very well for more than a day. I was wrong. It was actually best a day later and still fine 3 days later. And then it was gone.

I did, however, stabilize the whipped cream with a little bit of gelatin so that it wouldn’t get all weepy and melty on the top of the cake. Don’t ask me for real directions about how to do this as I’m not very good at it. Basically I dissolve a teaspoon or so of Knox gelatin in just a smidge of water and then mix that in with the heavy cream prior to whipping. It doesn’t always work well – sometimes I end up with gelatin globules in my whipped cream. Fortunately it worked when I made this cake.

One last thing: I was informed that my cake actually tasted better than the cake at Kuba Kuba. And that’s the highest praise I could ever hope to get for it!

7 Comments

  1. I bought all the ingredients at the store today and am planning on making this tomorrow!

  2. I LOVE Tres Leche cake. Yours looks absolutely beautiful. I’m trying this recipe. Thanks so much!

  3. What do you mean by rotate? Like flip the cake?

  4. This cake turned out beautifully and was a huge hit! I followed your recipe and instructions completely – except that I greased the glass 9×13 baking dish heavily (not lightly) and decreased the cooking time since my oven runs hot. I made the cake itself one day in advance of when I needed it, and then just covered the cake with freshly whipped cream about 3 or 4 hours before serving. So simple and so delicious! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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