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Tres leches cake

August 18, 2010
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Tres Leches Cake

Eh.  This cake.  I really don’t know where to begin.

My mom and Bea were here again this past weekend to pick up my niece and nephews from their mom-and-dad-free vacation.  They have whined at me all summer because they say I never bake when they’re here, and even though that’s true, I am totally blame-free.  If they didn’t insist on running all over creation every time they come down, I’d have more time to make them something wonderful.  This weekend, I was determined to make sure I baked something for them {even if it was just to shut them up…. just kidding… sort of}.  First was a batch of snickerdoodle bars, which couldn’t possibly have disappeared any faster.  It seemed like they were there one minute and gone the next.  A definite hit with everybody.

Then I had the bright idea to make a tres leches cake while my mom was with me, so we could do it together.  She’s a whiz with an egg white, while I tend to overbeat mine, so this was a perfect recipe to get some tips from her.  It went together just fine and baked up perfectly, though the cake did shrink up and pull away from the sides of the baking pan quite a bit as it cooled.  I poked holes all over the cake, smothered it in the milk mixture, and popped it in the fridge.  After 4 hours, we checked on it and there was still an awful lot of liquid around the edges of the pan that hadn’t absorbed.  Same thing after 5 hours.  And hours 6 and 7.  Finally, we gave up and went to bed.  When we checked it in the morning, it didn’t seem to look any different.

Because they had to leave, we didn’t have any more time to wait, and frankly, I don’t think the cake could have sucked up one more speck of milk anyway.  Instead, I made the 7 minute frosting, which turned out perfectly.  Inverting the cake, however, was another story.  Not perfect at all.  All the extra milk made a big mess all over the place and it didn’t look terribly attractive, even after the frosting was piped on.

But in taste, this cake was awesome.  None of the kids would even taste it, but we were oohing and aahing over it with every bite.  Even though we thought it was wonderful, I doubt that I’ll ever make it again.  It was disappointing that it didn’t turn out the way I’d expected, especially after all that work and waiting.  I guess I’m a more instant gratification type or something.  If I have to wait that long to enjoy a dessert, I want it to be the absolute best thing I ever tasted, you know?

{one year ago:  nutty buddy ice cream}

Recipe:  Tres Leches Cake

(recipe found at Cate’s World Kitchen)

1 2/3 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
3/4 cup 2% milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Tres Leches:
1/2 cup half and half
one 12-ounce can evaporated milk
one 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3 tbsp dark rum  **(I used amaretto)**
1 tsp vanilla extract

7 Minute Frosting:
2 large egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
pinch cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ square baking pan.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together onto a sheet of wax paper.

Beat the butter int the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth and creamy, then add the brown sugar and beat for about 2 minutes. Mix the milk and vanilla extract together in a small bowl.

Add half the flour mixture to the butter, mixing on low until just combined. Add the milk and mix on low. Add the remaining flour and stir until homogeneous.

With a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until light and foamy. Add the cream of tarter and beat until the egg whites hold soft peaks. Add the sugar and beat until the egg whites hold stiff, shiny peaks.

Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the egg whites into the cake batter. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack, then poke holes with a toothpick at 1″ intervals.

Adding milk mixture: After the cake has cooled, make the soaking mixture. Stir together the half and half, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, dark rum, and vanilla. Pour all over the cake (in the pan) so it is completely covered.

Wrap the cake with plastic wrap, and refrigerate between 4 hours and 4 days.

To make 7-minute frosting: Within a few hours of serving the cake, make the meringue topping. Stir together the egg whites, sugar, water and cream of tartar and beat for about a minute with a handheld mixer.

Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and beat with the mixer until the egg white temperature reaches 140 F (about 7 minutes). Remove from the heat, pour in the vanilla, and beat until the egg whites hold stiff peaks. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a large start tip.

Invert the cake onto a plate, then pipe swirls of meringue over the top. Cut into squares to serve.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. August 18, 2010 8:49 am

    The picture of your cake is fantastic (perfect actually) and I would NEVER have guessed that it didn’t turn out the way it was meant to! I am pleased that you enjoyed it all the same. It looked super yummy.
    We all know the disappointment of a recipe not working out, especially when you really want it to.
    :-) Mandy

  2. Grandy permalink
    August 18, 2010 9:16 am

    The picture is pretty and the cake tasted great !

  3. August 18, 2010 1:07 pm

    Sorry there were some complications at the end, but it still looks wonderfully milky and delicious. Your niece and nephews are very lucky :).

  4. August 18, 2010 1:16 pm

    It sounds delicious but I’d be furious too, after all of that effort! At least it tasted good, right?

  5. August 18, 2010 4:53 pm

    I think it looks fine- I don’t see any excess liquid. To me, it looks like a tres leches cake should. If youliked the flavor and were simply disappointed in the amount of liquid, then just decrease it next time.

    Sorry it wasn’t everything you thought it would be but if it tastes great, then that’s all that matters. That and you actually baked for your mom and sister!

    I’m off to go top mine with whipped cream and give it a try.

  6. oneordinaryday permalink
    August 18, 2010 5:58 pm

    Oh, man, Monica. There was a ton of extra liquid, but I ended up pouring a lot of it off as I plated the cake. Can’t wait to hear and see how yours turns out, cause it just might make me wanna try it again.
    ~ Michelle

  7. oneordinaryday permalink
    August 18, 2010 6:02 pm

    CompleteCookbook – Thank you for the compliments. I really did want the cake to be perfect all the way around, so it was a let-down in some ways, but it did taste amazing anyway. That sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

    Mom – I love ya!!!! xoxo

    Xiaolu – Thanks. You’re right, it was still delicious in spite of a few complications.

    The Kitchen Witch – I was disappointed cause I wanted to present this awesome cake to my mom. :) It turned out to taste great anyway, and maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist.

    ~ Michelle

  8. August 18, 2010 8:03 pm

    well, your picture does not show an unattractive cake. in fact, i’m already smitten, even without having taken a bite. :)

  9. August 18, 2010 10:57 pm

    I have to admit, I’m a succor for Tres Leches. But I’m never patient like I should be. You were so good to wait. It really does look beautiful from the pic.

  10. August 18, 2010 11:36 pm

    I guess I’m not the only one who can’t see a flawed cake from the gorgeous tempting shot above. Sorry it didn’t turn out the way you had expected, but at least it tasted great! :)

  11. August 19, 2010 2:06 am

    As long as it TASTED good, right :)

  12. August 19, 2010 1:07 pm

    It looks and sounds beautiful–sorry it was a disappointment over all. But at least you got a great photo and a great blog post out of it!!

  13. August 19, 2010 9:43 pm

    That DOES look moist and tasty, and I tend to like anything with cream of tartar in it. Too bad it was so unruly! I love it when you write about your family… Always gives me a chuckle!

  14. August 20, 2010 11:42 am

    Okay, I actually love tres leche cake, but I’m very picky about it. I can attest to the taste but yours looks fab!

    But what I really can’t wait to try of yours is snicker doodle bars! What? Really? Great because i’m all over that one.

  15. August 22, 2010 9:19 pm

    It looks good and if it tastes good then really it was a success. That’s kinda funny the kids wouldn’t try it. Mine aren’t like that at all. If they see Joe or I eating something they ALWAYS have to “try” it. It doesn’t matter that they’ve “tried” it 100 times before. lol, we know how to work them. :)

    Btw, I’ll take the extra leche. it’s so yummy I can drink it with a straw! :)

  16. August 25, 2010 2:52 pm

    I had the same problem with my Tres Leches cake too. It tasted amazing, but it was definitely still floating in my pan after chilling overnight. I’ll have to try 7 minute frosting on top of mine next time (with only half the leche mixture) cause that sounds amazing! My whipped cream topping was kind of meh.

  17. August 28, 2010 8:58 pm

    At least it tasted good even if it didn’t turn out how you wanted!

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