“It is not well for a man to pray cream and live skim milk”- Henry Ward Beecher.
Over the last few days – my social media feed, my instagram – my email has been flooded with pictures of the Tres Leches cakes in various shapes and forms. (Not shapes really but whatever.) This of course has to do with the fact that yesterday was 5th of May and Mexico’s biggest celebration- the Cinco de Mayo .
Well, I couldn’t resist it much longer and set out to try my own version of this famous cake. This is particularly popular in central and south america. The Tres leches cake has as its base a butter cake with a spongy texture. A sweet milky syrup is poured over it, made of whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk — hence the name tres leches, “three milks.” In the 1800’s manufacturers of canned milk promoted their products by printing the recipe on the back of cans and thats how its popularity soared.
Condensed milk is something that is there in many Indian kitchens (I dare say!) but canned evaporated milk is more difficult to find. But that was not a problem , as evaporated milk is nothing but milk that has …. evaporated !!! Basically you simmer milk until all the water has evaporated off and you have a thickish (slightly sweeter and a tad caramelised ) milk.
For the cake I used my good old sponge cake . Hey , if it aint broken….. You can obviously use any butter cake or sponge cake of your choice. For the soaking mixture , i used condensed milk , evaporated milk and some low fat cream . Topped off with lightly whipped cream .
This is where I usually describe how good the cake tastes. But ethereally light sponge cake , soaked with syrup and topped with cream . I am not even going to bother !
This cake was simply delicious ! The super light sponge does it work brilliantly by soaking up the “Tres Leches” and is still so light . Insanely good. And so easy to over-gorge on.
Line the bottom of your 8 inch round pan with parchment or grease it with butter. Preheat your oven to 180 C / 350 F.
Beat together the eggs and sugar on medium high speed until the mixture triples in volume and becomes light and fluffy . If you lift your whisk /beater and make an "8" on top of the batter , you should be able to see the 8 for a couple of seconds until it disappears into the batter.Add the vanilla and beat a minute.
Sift in the flour and salt. Fold in usually a spatula gently until all the flour is incorporated into the batter. Try not to deflate the batter too much.
Spread batter into prepared tin . Tap against the counter . Bake in the preheated oven at 180 C/ 350 F for 20 - 24 minutes .
When done , the top will be brown and the edges will come away from the sides of the pan. The cake will spring back when touched. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, run a knife along the edge and remove the cake. Cool (right side up ) on a wire rack completely.
To make the evaporated milk : Simmer 1 and half cups whole milk in a thick bottomed sauce pan until it reduces to half cup milk . To make this easier , pour half cup milk into the pan , make a marker or put some tape on the outside of the pan at this level. Pour in the rest of the milk and simmer until the milk comes down to that level. Strain and cool.
When your cake is cool , prepare your soaking syrup by mixing together the condensed milk, cream and the evaporated milk.
Pour about quarter cup of the syrup all over the top of the cake. Wait for it to be absorbed. Pour the remaining in the same way gradually . Rest the cake in the fridge overnight before serving. Top with the whipped cream before serving.
This cake is best made ahead of time so that the cake soaks in all the flavours.
You can use whole milk instead of cream and increase the condensed milk to 1/2 cup if you like the sweetness. I didnt want to make the cake too sweet.
You can store it for 4-5 days in the refrigerator.