Tres Leches (a.k.a. Three Milks) Cake is a traditional Mexican dessert, which is basically cake soaked in three types of milk – regular milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk, and should only be attempted by self-professed milk-lovers! I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a really long time, but I wasn’t brave enough! I was afraid no one (including me) would like the cake, then all the efforts (and money) would be wasted, and I might get another scolding for wasting food (while so many children in Africa have none… Sounds familiar to you too?). I got to say that this cake didn’t disappoint though, all I got were YUMs and MMMs, and the ingenious idea credited to my little sister that I should open a Tres Leches shop that sells cake soaked in all sorts of flavoured milks! Are you sold on the concept of milk-soaked cake yet?? Firstly, here’s a photo! (Since a picture says a thousand words…)
Just like baking any other types of cakes, you need to be patient, but there is a special something about this one that requires you to be extra patient. First thing’s first, egg whites are to be beaten separately, so you need to perform that confident yet delicate spatula movements to mix them into the batter. Next, after the cake has been baked, you have to gradually spoon the milk mixture onto it till the cake is fully saturated (imagine pouring spoonfuls of water over a huge piece of dishwashing sponge till it’s full). Finally, as if the saturation process isn’t long enough and the sweet scent of milk isn’t enticing enough, you need to refrigerate the cake for at least an hour more!
Baking isn’t always as therapeutic as you’d think. Sometimes you need to be calm BEFORE you start baking. But of course all those efforts will all be worth it, because one spoonful of this cake and you’re in Milky Paradise.. Pushing your fork into this cake unleashes its contained milky goodness!
And did I mention I put Baileys in the cake???
This recipe makes 8 generous slices with a 9- X 13-inch baking tin. I halved the recipe to make a smaller batch.
BAILEYS TRES LECHES CAKE
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Unsalted butter, room temperature, for baking tin (Though you could also line the baking tin with baking paper)
6 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 cup whole milk
Baileys, as much as you want!
(For topping, whip 1-1/2 cups thickened cream and 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, or you could also add some fresh fruits with it like strawberries, oranges, kiwi, if you wish)
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Butter a 9- X 13-inch baking tin, or line the tin with baking paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks (peaks shouldn’t be stiff). Using a rubber spatula, fold whites into yolk mixture until almost combined. Gently fold in the sifted flour. Note that you should take extra care not to overmix this batter and risk beating too much air out of the egg whites.
3. Spread the batter in the prepared baking tin. Bake until golden and pulling away from the sides of the dish, 20 to 25 minutes. Using a small knife, scrape the skin from the top of the cake (and if you wish the sides too). This is so the milk could be absorbed into the cake later on. Do not waste these cut out segments, keep them in the fridge to eat with ice cream! Cool the cake in the tin for 20 minutes.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the three milks and Baileys. Gradually spoon the mixture evenly over the top of the cake. Keeping the cake in the tin in this step ensures that no single drop of the milk mixture would be wasted. Continue spooning the milk mixture until the cake no longer absorbs the milk. You could tell when this is completed by pushing your spoon on the cake surface and the milk mixture flows out – saturation has been reached. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to a day. (Note that you do not need to use every drop of the milk mixture. Keep the extra amount to put into your morning coffee for the next few days! RECOMMENDED!)
5. To serve, prepare topping: In a mixing bowl, whip heavy cream with sugar to soft peaks, and spread all over the top of the cake, or drop a dollop on a piece of the cake. Arrange some fruits on top of the cream, if desired.
As you can already tell, a lot of LOVE has to be put into making this cake. But of course, this is reciprocal love! You’ll feel it once you take a bite out of it