Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tres Leches Cake

Where I live in Southern California  we are lucky to be 20 minutes from the beach, an hour or so from the mountains and about 2 hours from the desert. If we want mountains with enough snow to ski on we do need to travel a bit farther.
 Last weekend we took a short camping trip to the  desert. After weeks of rainy weather the desert was green and the plants were just beginning to blossom. Hard to believe but on our on trip home, we had to drive through  snow flurries.

 Late winter and early spring shows the desert at it's finest,  the Ocotillos  on the left are starting to bloom.

Ocotillo blossom
On this  trip I was assigned dessert for Saturday night's dinner.  I needed a dessert that would travel well and stay moist in the dry desert air. I had been wanting to make a tres leches cake for sometime, but the  traditional whipped cream topping wasn't going to make it on a camping trip. Teanna at  Spork or Foon,  posted a tres leches cake which she topped with dulce de leche.  This seemed like the perfect choice. I shopped around for a recipe that would work for me and found one at the Food Network.  I have made some changes to the original  recipe and my version appears below.

Tres Leches Cake
adapted from Food Network
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
6 large eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1 can Dulce de Leche


  1.  Position rack in bottom 1/3 of oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with the shortening. Add 1 tablespoon of the flour to the greased pan and shake it around to coat the entire pan with the flour. Shake out excess flour. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sugar with the mixer running, beating until stiff peaks form.
  4. Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each egg is added.
  5. In a small mixing bowl, sift together the 2 cups flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the batter in stages, alternating with the whole milk, beginning and ending with the flour. (Do this quickly so that the batter does not lose its volume.) Add 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and 2/3 cups of the heavy cream.
  8.  Pour 1/2 of the  milk mixture over the warm cake.
  9. When the cake has soaked up most of the liquid, pour the remaining half of the milk mixture over the cake, and cool to room temperature.
  10. Mix remaining cream with dulce de leche. Spread over milk soak cake, cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

This cake was moist without being soggy. When served cold, the texture was firm, but at room temperature it softened up and became creamy.  This is a cake that you could easily change the flavor of by adding citrus zest to both the cake batter and the soaking milk  or by replacing some of the milk with  fruit juice, Kahlua, Framboise or Grand Marnier.