The famous Tres Leches Cake is now becoming more and more popular all over the world. Also known as the three-milk cake, this gorgeous cake is made up of three kinds of milk. The final result is then topped with some whipped cream. However, some things set the cake apart from one that is simply made by using a combination of kinds of milk. Once the cake has been baked and cooled down, holes are poked into it. The cake is then soaked in a mix of three different kinds of milk products. These include regular milk/heavy cream, condensed milk, and evaporated milk. This is what gives the cake its name: ‘Tres Leches Cake’.
What makes the Tres Leches Cake different from others?
The fact that a Tres Leches Cake uses different kinds of milk is what makes it different. And though all three are kinds of milk, they vary drastically concerning consistency, taste, and texture. Thus, the right combination makes the cake the right kind of sweet. The cake, in the end, tastes moist and soft but is not mushy.
The history of the Tres Leches Cake:
There is a lot of dispute with the history and origin of the Tres Leches Cake. Many believe that the cake is native to Nicaragua. Today, the cake is very popular in that area, as well as in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and Mexico.
In the 19th century, there was a recipe that became very common throughout Mexico. It was a fairly simple recipe with a bread cake that was soaked in wine. The cake with then topped with custard. Many believe that this was an adaptation of the famous Tiramisu, which also uses sponge cakes that are soaked. Such recipes are excellent ways to use leftover cakes and sponges and result in excellent desserts. And considering how Europe has so much influence on Mexico in the 19th century, it is apparent why these soaked cakes became popular in America too!
And while there is no proof of this, many believe that the recipe comes from the cans of condensed milk and evaporated milk. These cans were widely sold in Latin America, as well as in Central and South America. To boost sales of these milk products, the manufacturers started printing these recipes.
Whatever the origin is, the cake became popular only in the early 1900s. Today, condensed milk and evaporated milk are both widely used products throughout Latin America.
Also Read Tiramisu: the classic Italian dessert
What is the difference between condensed milk and evaporated milk?
Condensed milk was introduced in the mid-1850s. The intent was to preserve milk without having to refrigerate it. Evaporated milk, on the other hand, became available only during the 1870s. Milk companies would heat the milk so that it would not spoil in the cans. Sugar was not needed here.
Both condensed milk and evaporated milk have around 60 percent of their water removed. Also, both of these are shelf-stable products. The difference between them is that condensed milk is sweeter, while evaporated milk is not.
The absence of water, or lack of it, in both of them, makes for an intense milky flavor in the final product. Thus, you end up with a rich milky taste minus the liquid content.
In urban areas where storing and distributing fresh milk is a problem, these two alternatives are very widely used.
A full proof Tres Leches Cake recipe
A Tres Leches Cake is super easy to prepare from the comfort of your home. You don’t need any fancy ingredients to make this delicious yet easy cake. Condensed milk is easily available, so you don’t have to worry about that. Finding evaporated milk, however, might be a task; but a lot of high-end grocery stores now stock up on cans of evaporated milk.
Ingredients for the Tres Leches Cake:
1 cup caster sugar
5 eggs, separated
80 ml of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
150 grams flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
Tres Leches Syrup:
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup condensed milk
250 ml of heavy cream
Vanilla essence, as per taste
Whipped cream topping:
100 ml whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla essence
Method to prepare the Tres Leches Cake:
Begin by preparing the cake batter.
Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease an 8-inch cake tin with butter.
In a large bowl, cream the egg yolks with ¾ cup sugar till you get ribbon consistency. This should take around 5 minutes. In the end, the yolks should be pale yellow. Very gently, without deflating the mixture, add in the milk, vanilla, flour, and baking powder.
In another clean stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar, adding in the sugar in parts till you get a shiny and smooth meringue. We are looking at firm egg whites, but not dry ones.
Now, fold this egg white mixture into the yolks and flour mixtures using a spatula.
Pour this into the cake tin and bake for around 45 minutes. A good way to check the cake is to insert a toothpick right in the center. It should come out clean with no crumbs.
Un-mould the cake when it comes to room temperature and let cool completely.
Preparing the Tres Leches syrup:
In a large bowl, combine the three kinds of milk together, along with the vanilla. Whisk well until combined. Set aside.
Preparing the whipped topping for the Tres Leches Cake
In a large bowl, combine the whipped cream and vanilla. Beat first at low speed and then at high speed, till you get stiff peaks. Set aside for later use.
Assembling the Tres Leches Cake:
Once the cake completely cools down, use a skewer to poke holes into the cake. However, make sure that you don’t tear the cake apart.
Place the cake on a wire rack, and then place the rack on a tray. Gently pour the milk syrup all around the cake, until it gets soaked completely in the cake. The excess syrup that drips down on the tray can be collected and then used to soak the cake again.
Using an offset spatula, spread the whipped cream topping on the cake. Garnish as you prefer, or serve as it is.