Sunday, May 4, 2008
Tres Leches Cake
Chris saw Alton Brown do a Tres Leches Cake on Good Eats a couple of weeks ago and he wanted us to give it a try. Cinco de Mayo tomorrow gave us a perfect excuse to make it. :)
For those who don't know -- it's a basic cake, usually baked in a sheet pan, and then brushed with a whole lot of milk sauce -- three milks to be exact. Evaporated, Sweetened Condensed and either regular milk or half and half depending on what recipe you use. I've also seen recipes that include rum in the milk sauce and if I had seen that before I made this one I definitely would have added some.
We didn't use Alton's recipe since we couldn't find it the first time I looked for it (I found it later, but by then the other cake was done), but I had a recipe in my Southern Cakes book so we used that one instead. Comparing the recipes shows that Alton's used more sweetened condensed milk and half-and-half which I'm sure created a much richer cake. The Southern Cakes version used grated lime zest sprinkled on the cake and I really liked that touch -- it added a sharp, bright contrast to the sweet cake.
I'm wondering if there is a version out there that uses coconut milk, but maybe that's just me. I'm picturing combining the variations -- coconut milk, lime zest, and rum... now that would be yummy. Of course, I think I would want to just substitute a little coconut milk for some of the half and half/regular milk which would make it a Quatro Leches Cake... which just doesn't have quite the same ring to it. I'm going to have to ponder this one a bit -- and if anyone else has any suggestions or recipes to try, please let me know. :)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon, plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
one 12-oz can evaporated milk
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
Sweetened Whipped cream for garnish (optional)
To make the cake: preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 13 x9 inch pan. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking powder and stir with a fork to mix well.
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat with a mixer at high speed to mix well. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition, and stopping to scrape down the bowl now and then, until the mixture is light, fluffy, and smooth.
Add one third of the flour mixture, and then half the milk, beating at low speed each time until the flour or milk disappears into the batter. Add another third of the flour, the remaining milk, and the the remaining flour in the same way.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown, springs back when touched lightly in the center, and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
While the cake bakes, make the sauce. Combine the milk, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan. Heat gently over medium heat stirring often, until the mixture forms a smooth, steaming hot sauce. Do not let it come to a boil.
Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack or folded kitchen towel for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the lime zest over the cake. Punch holes with a toothpick in the top of the cake, about 1 inch apart.
Slowly pour the warm milk sauce over the warm cake in stages, stopping to let the cake absorb in some of the sauce before adding more. You may not need all the Three-milk sauce, and you can add more later as the cake cools.
Let stand for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate, allowing the cake to come to room temperature before serving. Cut into squares and serve right form the pan. Garnish with sweetened whipped cream and fresh fruit if you like.