Food quote of note

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience"…Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cinco de Mayo

     It's hard to believe it's May already - but, it's here, so time for another cake!  From the time I first conceived of my crazy plan to bake a new cake every month, I was thinking ahead to May.  I knew I wanted to make a Tres Leches Cake, and it seemed like this would be the perfect cake for celebrating the month of May and Cinco de Mayo. 
     My anticipation was accompanied by a slight bit of apprehension - not because this is an especially challenging cake to make, but because there is a local Atlanta restaurant that has an AMAZING Tres Leches cake on the menu.  For years, this has been my husband's favorite restaurant cake (not to be confused with his favorite homemade cake - the chocolate boxed cake from April's blog posting).  To say Guy likes the Tres Leches cake from Tierra is an understatement - he loves this cake, pines for this cake and worships the very fiestaware plate it sits on - and, quite frankly, I don't blame him - it is a sweet, white, milky square of nirvana.  To make it even worse, Tierra recently closed (a moment of silence, please), so now this perfect cake is but a beautiful and delicious memory - it's been placed in dessert "sainthood".  So - you understand my trepidation in trying to recreate this cake at home - could I make one that lived up to the restaurant gold standard?
     Tres Leches (three milk) cake is a sponge cake soaked in three kinds of mik (evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream).  Because butter is not used, the sponge cake is a very light cake with many air bubbles - this distinct texture is why it does not have a soggy consistency, despite being soaked in several cups of the three milk mixture.  This cake has a unique velvety texture - a balance between cake and custard - and a sweet, vanilla, creamy taste.  It was a relatively simple cake to make - and, much to  my delight, it turned out PRETTY DARN close to the Tierra version - the only difference being that their frosting is slightly sweeter (I'll have to try adapting the frosting next time I make this).

Once the sponge cake has cooled for 10-15 minutes, begin pouring the three milk mixture over the cake (don't forget to poke holes in cake with a toothpick or fork to help milk mixture absorb).   I know it's hard to believe, but the cake will get soaked with flavor, but will not get soggy.

My version of Tres Leches cake - sweet, creamy and delicious (and almost as good as Tierra's).

     I would definitely recommend this cake - it's fairly easy to make, can easily be prepared ahead, stores well for days in the fridge, and is a cool, creamy delight.  So, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I suggest you grab a margarita and make a Tres Leches cake!

Tres Leches Cake - slightly adapted from Emeril LaGasse

  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 5 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Sugar, Divided
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • ⅓ cups Milk
  • 1 can Evaporated Milk
  • 1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk
  • ¼ cups Heavy Cream

For the icing:
  • 1 pint Heavy Cream, For Whipping
  • 3 Tablespoons Confectioner's Sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Separate eggs.  Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla, stir until just blended. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until cake springs back or a toothpick comes out clean. (Note - if using a metal cake pan, will cook quicker - likely only need 30-35 minutes).  Allow cake to cool ~10-15 minutes in pan.
Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher.
Pierce the surface of the cake with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture onto the cake —try to get it as evenly dispersed as you can, including getting some around the edges of the cake.
Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. Pour the remaining 1 cup milk mixture over the cake. 
To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.  Spread over the surface of the cake.
Refrigerate cake at least 4 hours - does fine if let set in fridge overnight.  (Note, cake can be refrigerated and whipping cream added right before serving if desired - does fine either way).

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