ORIGINAL RECIPE: Ree Drummond’s “Tres Leche Cake,” on foodnetwork.com*
TIMING: It takes an afternoon to bake and prepare a cake, but this one’s on the shorter end
DIFFICULTY: Pretty easy, for a cake. As long as you can whip cream…
TOOLS: A 9×13 inch cake pan, some parchment paper, a sifter, etc.
COOK TYPE: Oven. Baking
HEALTH: As I keep finding myself having to say, this is not meant to be a healthy food. It’s a traditional cake. However, it is on the less-sweet end of the cake spectrum, so I suppose you do have a little less sugar (and fat) to contend with, here. It’s a sweet indulgence.
EXPERIENCE: I was making smothered burritos for a crowd, and of course I wanted a dessert to cap off the meal. Tres Leches Cake had also made an appearance on the Netflix airing of The Pioneer Woman collection in my kitchen, and it seemed like a breeze compared with the four-layer Lane and Red Velvet Cakes I had made recently.
However, I had little to no experience with actual Tres Leches Cake. It always seemed really yummy, but I was unsure if I had ever tasted it. So, in the end, my tastebuds were going in blind. Despite that reviewers rave about this version, I found it to be too wet and also a little one-note, like a singer without a symphony. Then again, all the men in the family had two to three servings.
NOTES: If I was going to mess with this recipe, I would take out the cream from the drizzle. I would also decorate–as Ree did–with candied cherries or maybe candied orange or lime peel. Lime peel! That would be nice, as well as a little zest in the cake. Coconut would also be a very happy addition, as well as Kahlua, tequila, or rum. Coconut-rum? Tequila-lime? Kahlua-cherry? Yum. And of course there’s always chocolate-cinnamon, berries, or coffee to work with.
- Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan, fit the bottom with parchment paper, and grease again. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift 1 cup all purpose or cake flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- In your stand mixer, beat 3/4 cup granulated sugar with 5 eggs yolks (whites set aside) on high until pale yellow. Mix in 1/3 cup milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
- Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir gently to combine.
- Clean and dry out your stand mixer. Beat with the whisk the 5 egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and continue until firm peaks form.
- Gently fold the egg whites into your batter until just combined. Dump into the cake pan, smooth carefully, and bake for 35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool 10 minutes, then run a paring knife around the edges and carefully turn out onto a platter.
- Meanwhile, in a Ball jar, combine 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk, 12 ounces evaporated milk, and optional 1/4 cup cream (or coconut milk). Cover and shake until combined.
- When cake is cool, pour milk mixture all over the cake and refrigerate for at least a few hours, up to 1 day.
- When almost ready to serve cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons powdered sugar and a pinch of salt until very firm, but not yet curdled.
- Frost cake with the whipped cream and decorate with cherries, coconut, lime peel, or what have you.
Serve with hot coffee or Mexican hot chocolate.
*Recipe changed from the original.