Today I am sharing with you my celebration cake 🙂 let’s say advance celebration for my upcoming birthday. I thought of a cake that is not so traditional for a birthday cake. Don’t get me wrong, I love round, large tiered cake with candles and confetti’s but it is good get out of traditional form time to time. So today I am showing you how I made this Tres Leches Cake or 3 Milk Cake. It you like soft, creamy and milky cake, this one is a great option. I would offer a slice to share with you but since I cannot do that, why not give this recipe a try and see for yourself how easy and delicious this cake is.
This cake is so moist, which makes sense because it was soaked overnight in 3 milk mixture. There’s no way you can have a dry cake with tres leches because of the amount of liquid used to soak the cake. It is so soft and moist you can feel and taste the milk in every bite.
What is Tres Leches Cake?
Let me start by saying, it’s a ridiculously delicious milk cake 🙂 Tres Leches Cake or Pan Tres Leches or Pastel De Tres Leches is a type of sponge cake soaked in 3 kinds of milk: evaporated milk, full fat milk and condensed milk. As it is a sponge cake, expect a light airy cake which makes it the best cake to soak the milk mixture without making it mushy and soggy.
How to Make Tres Leches
Making Tres Leches Cake ( 3 Milk Cake) may sound intimidating because of the long list of ingredients and steps, but that is not really true. The long list of ingredient is true, but they are all easy to find, I would say most of them are basic baking recipes. The process however is longer than regular sponge cake or chiffon cake because of the extra step that you need to do to make it Tres Leches. There are 3 main parts in making Tres Leches Cake regardless of the variation you are making.
The Base Sponge Cake
Tres Leches uses a Sponge Cake as the base cake. This cake is the best type of cake because of its texture and stability. It is soft, fluffy and can handle to absorb a lot of liquid after baking. We are talking about soaking the cake in 1 cup of liquid, that is a lot to take for a cake. Sponge Cake is basically a simple cake that uses basic ingredients like egg, flour, sugar. Since this is a chocolate Sponge Cake, we also used Cocoa Powder and added melted butter which is unusual for a Sponge Cake. Usually, Sponge Cake do not have much fat unlike Chiffon Cake. But because we are adding cocoa powder which tends to absorb more liquid and can make the cake dry, the addition of butter helps keep the cake soft and moist, plus butter makes cake taste better. Do we agree on that? The Sponge Cake relies on the whipped egg white to give it volume and height, just like Chiffon Cake. This variation uses also baking powder to add extra lift to the cake. The addition of melted butter and melted chocolate makes a heavier cake batter and adding leavening agent helps the cake rise more and be stable.
The Tres Leches (3 Milk) Mixture
The reason why Tres Leches Cake is called as such is because of the 3 types of milk used to soak the cake. Basic milk mixture would have a combination of condensed milk, evaporated milk and full fat milk. Some variation uses whipping cream in place of evaporated milk or Almond milk in place of full fat milk. It depends of how creamy you want it to be. The mix mixture is what will make the cake super moist after having the cake soak for 1 hour or more. Some recipe leaves the cake overnight soaking, it is really up to you how moist you want the cake to be. The longer you soak the cake, the more it will absorb the milk mixture.
The frosting is a light Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting. The idea is to use a frosting flavor that matches the variation of Tres Leches you are making. I love the simple whipped cream frosting. It is light, airy and not too sweet. This for me is the perfect frosting for tres leches cake.
The toppings are flexible and can be customized to your preference. My first choice would had been Strawberries but I do not have one on hand when I made it. When your preferred fresh fruit is not in session, you can use preserve fruits like Peach or Pear or Fruit Cocktail. You can also leave it plain, it will still taste great. More than the toppings, it’s the cake that counts. With this cake, you can be assured that toppings or no toppings this cake taste amazing.
Tips to Remember:
- Sponge Cake is the best cake for tres leches. If you do not want to use this sponge cake recipe, you can use other sponge cake recipe just make sure it is a sponge cake. Butter cake and oil based cakes are not recommended for tres leches. Because of the butter and oil in the cake, soaking it in liquid will make it mushy and soggy.
- Cake can be serve on the pan or sliced out of the pan
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 4 Egg Whites
- 100 g (½ cup) Sugar
- 130 g (½ cup + 1 tbsp) Milk
- 120 g (¾ cup + 1 tbsp) All-Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice (or 1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar)
3 Milk Bath Mixture:
- 100g Full Fat Milk
- 100g Whipping Cream or Evaporated Milk
- 100g Condensed Milk ( for less sweeter cake, use 80g condensed milk)
Whipped Cream Frosting:
- 250g/ 9 ounces Whipping Cream
- 2 tablespoon Icing Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Pre-heat the oven to 320F.
- Whisk the Egg Whites: In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy, around 30 seconds. Add cream of tartar and continue whisking for 1 minute. Gradually add the remaining sugar (in 3 additions to allow the sugar to dissolve). Continue whisking in medium speed until stiff peaks (5 more minutes). You will know if it is already stiff peaks when you turn the bowl up side down, the egg whites will not fall. The texture is stiff and glossy.
- Wet Ingredients: Using electric mixer or wire whisk, beat egg yolks, milk and pure vanilla extract.
- Wet + Dry Ingredients: Sift the cake flour, salt and baking powder onto the wet ingredients mixture. Carefully fold the flour until fully incorporated and no more lumps.
- Gradually fold 1/3 of the the egg white to the flour and egg mixture (from step 2). Pour the mixture to the remaining whisked egg whites and gently fold to avoid deflating the batter.
- Pour into a 8″ parchment lined square pan. Tap 3-4 times on the counter top to release the bubbles.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. The top will slowly turn brown, and the side will start to lift away from the side of the pan.
- Cool: Take out from the oven, and remove from the pan after 5 minutes and transfer in a cooling rack. Do NOT leave the cake in the pan. Cover the top with parchment paper and put a wire rack or mesh on top and flip the cake. Peel the parchment paper. You can reuse the same parchment paper and put it back in the pan.
- Once cooked, return the cake in the pan. If you are serving this straight from the pan , then there is not need to line it with parchment paper. If you want to cut it out of the pan, then line the pan with parchment paper for easy lifting later.
- Make the 4 Milk Mixture. Follow the instructions below.
- Using a fork or a toothpick. Prick the top of the cake to make small holes. Pour the 3 milk mixture on top. Cover with plastic wrap. Overnight soaking is my preference as this length of time really gives the cake time to absorb all the liquid. You can soak it minimum 1 hr but you will have a lot of leftover milk not absorbed in the cake.
- If cutting out of the pan, remove from the pan and transfer in a flat surface board or plate.
- Make the Whipped Cream Frosting. Follow the instructions below.
- Decorate as desired: I used canned peach to top the cake. Fresh fruit like Strawberry will be a better option of you have one on hand. Spread the frosting on top and decorate with your fruit preference.
Milk Batch Instructions:
- Combine milk, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.
Vanilla Whipped Cream Instructions:
- Chill the bowl and the whisk in the freezer at least 15 minutes before using it. The chilling process will help produce a more stable and stiff whipped cream.
- In a clean COLD bowl, pour the whipping cream. Sift the confectioners sugar and add vanilla extract (if using) onto the whipping cream. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the cream for around 4 minutes 30 seconds. Mixer speed setting could vary, so, watch carefully to the texture of your whipped cream. Start paying attention on 2-3 minutes stage. At last 1 minute, manually whisk it to avoid over whipping it. To test if done, turn the bowl up side down. If the frosting hold and do not slide off the bowl, than it is ready to go. The texture should be light, fluffy, glossy and smooth. Be careful not to over beat it as it will clump (like thick clouds), once you get to that stage, there is no turning back and it will start to clump like when making homemade butter.
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This looks really delightful! And I love canned peaches and pears! Our peach season is over before you know it some years!
I am always an advocate of fresh fruits, but I can never be more thanful for this canned fruits when fresh fruits are not in season…
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