Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Traditional Mexican Pastel de Tres Leches (Three Milk Cake)

Today it is not unusual to find even some of the most elite cake decorators using boxed cake mixes to create their "from scratch" or "homemade" cakes.  Most times they'll include additional ingredients such as flour, eggs, pudding, etc.  And all that is fine unless the person buying the cake wants all natural ingredients.  I personally would prefer not to have all the chemicals that are included in the majority, if not all, boxed cake mixes.  And more and more of us are moving toward a new fresh ingredients society.

Recently, I was asked to make a tres leches cake for my best friends birthday.  I wanted to have the freshest and most natural ingredients so I began my search for a recipe. I actually found one recipe that used boxed cake mix but called "from scratch".  To my surprise most of these recipes were from scratch but did contain oil or butter where the traditional tres leches does not. The cake has a better chance of soaking up the milk if you leave the oils out and still tastes fabulous with a nice dense texture.

Traditional Tres Leches Recipe

9 Eggs, separated
1 Cup white sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 Cups all purpose flour


1 - 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 - 12oz can evaporated milk
1 Cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract


2 Cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 Cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the pan.  In medium mixing bowl beat the egg WHITES on medium-high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they hold soft peaks. Carefully stir in the sugar and continue beating until they hold even more stiff peaks. Transfer the egg white mixture into a large mixing bowl.

Rinse the bowl and its whisk / beaters and dry well.  Pour the egg yolks into the bowl and beat on medium-high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the egg yolks become creamy and their color is a more creamy yellow color instead of dark yellow.  Stir in the vanilla and continue beating for another minute.
Pour the egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture and fold them together with a spatula until well combined.  Do this gently trying not to lose much volume.  When fully combined, fold in the flour, scraping the bowl with the spatula so that all the flour is mixed well.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. It can be a bit moist, but not wet. The top of the cake should be light to medium golden brown and feel springy to the touch.

Cool in the pan on cooling racks for about 10 minutes.  Cover with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator to cool completely.  This process will enable the cake to retain all the moisture that would normally escape when cooled in the open air.
While the cake is cooling in the refrigerator, whip the heavy cream with the confectioners sugar on medium-high until the mixture holds stiff peaks, (about 1 to 2 minutes).  Refrigerate to keep cold until ready to use.  

Once it is completely cool, turn it onto a platter and remove the parchment paper then you may return it to the pan if you're planning on serving it in the same pan or turn it onto a decorative platter inverting it again.  The platter needs to be large enough to hold the cake and the vanilla syrup.

Poke holes throughout the cake top using a fork or skewer so that it will better absorb the vanilla syrup.

Combine the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, milk, and vanilla extract in a medium size bowl.  Pour the vanilla syrup over the cake SLOWLY.  NOTE: If you are making a layer cake, pour half the syrup over the bottom layer slowly and let it soak it up. Spread icing over the top of the bottom layer and place your fruit on top of that (if you use fruit). Then place the second layer on top of the icing /fruit layer.  You can opt to use a flavor injector to inject the syrup into the layers to avoid having the sauce run off.  This worked very well for me.

Spread the whipped cream over the cake.  Decorate with strawberries or other berries.   Enjoy!

Until next time...........Happy Baking!