Monday, May 5, 2014

Tres Leches Layer Cake

I mentioned a couple posts back about how I had big food plans for Cinco de Mayo. I ended up hosting an inauthentic potluck for almost Cinco de Mayo on Saturday over the weekend, for which I made several dishes: white chicken quinoa chili, sriracha beef nachos, and this tres leches cake here which was a hit. We passed around slices and there was 1/2 a cake left initially, but then we started playing card games. One of the guys was grazing on the rest of the cake during the game, and pretty much finished the rest before anyone realized it -_-; I had hoped to save some leftovers for myself... 

I think the reason that this cake is so good is because it's reminiscent of an Asian bakery cake (posted about here and here). The major difference is the three milk soak, which made an already wonderful cake even more moist and delicious. It's a lot of effort to put this together, but totally worth it since it's not something that can be easily purchased from a bakery and also because it tastes as good as it looks.

Recipe slightly adapted from Live, Laugh, Love, Bake

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 + 1 tsp vanilla extract, separated
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Dash of cream of tartar
  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 1/4 + 2 + 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, separated
  • 1 packet gelatin
  • 8 tsp water
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 lb strawberries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F and prep two 9" cake pans by cutting out circles from parchment paper and putting them into the bottom of your pans to prevent sticking. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup of sugar, and beat until it's creamy light yellow in color.

Add milk, 1 tsp of vanilla, flour, and baking powder, and beat until combined.

In a separate large clean bowl, beat together egg whites, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and a dash of cream of tartar. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Fold the egg whites into the flour/yolk mixture, being careful not to deflate the egg whites. A silicone spatula will work best for this step.

Pour your batter into cake pans, and bake for about 30 minutes until it passes the toothpick test.

Here's the cake fresh out of the oven! Let cool.

Cover two plates with plastic wrap. Loosen the cakes from their pans by running a knife around the edges, then flip onto plates. Remove parchment paper clinging to the cake.

Make your three milk soaking syrup by combining the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Stir well to mix. Discard 1 cup of the milk mixture since it's a bit much -- I put it in a tupperware and used it for coffee creamer for the next few days

Use a fork to poke lots of holes into each cake. Pour half of the milk mixture onto each cake layer, going carefully and slowly i.e. wait for it to soak up some of the syrup before pouring on more. Cover with more plastic wrap and refrigerate it until you're ready to construct your cake (up to a day). 

When ready to put your cake together, transfer your cake layers to the freezer (the idea is that you freeze them slightly so that it'll be easier to put together). Prep your decor by cleaning strawberries, cutting off the stems, and cut into thin slices. You only need about 1/2 a pound of strawberries if you want to decorate it like I did mine -- I have more strawberries than that pictured here for snacking purposes.

Make the stabilized whipped cream by blooming a packet of gelatin in 8 tsp of water for 5 minutes, then microwave at 15 second intervals until melted (stirring in between). If you see any clumps of gelatin that won't dissolve, remove it from the mixture before proceeding. Wait for gelatin to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, beat your remaining heavy cream and your powdered sugar slowly until foamy. Concurrently while continuing to beat slowly, stream in your melted gelatin and then increase the beater speed. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. 

Remove one cake layer from the freezer and unwrap. Spread with whipped cream, layer on some strawberry slices. Layer on more whipped cream on top.

Remove the second cake layer from the freezer and unwrap, then place it on top of the first layer.

Cover the entire cake with your remaining whipped cream (an offset spatula is best for this task).

Decorate with more strawberry slices. (I forgot to take a picture of the next chocolate ganache drizzle step, but warm the remaining 1/4 cup of heavy cream in a small pan until barely bubbling, then turn off the heat. Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips and stir well until smooth. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a ziplock sandwich bag.)

Snip off a tiny corner of your sandwich bag containing the ganache, then drizzle onto your cake for decorations. Some of the milk soak is oozing out of the cake and pooling at the bottom, yum. I'm sipping on coffee with leftover milk soak as creamer as I'm writing this blog post, and alas it's making me crave more cake :(

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