Tres Leches Cake
It’s hard to beat the freewheeling decadence of tres leches cake. We love it because it has all the rich flavor of a custard, but in a light, spongy, unbelievably moist cake. It’s also one of those sophisticated desserts that’s deceptively easy to make: Yes, there are 10 steps, but nothing about them is fussy. If you can work a whisk, you can make this cake.
And yet: the texture is SO important, we do have a couple of tips from the kitchen. First, we beat the eggs and sugar together for a full 10 minutes to get them super light and fluffy and then slowly add the milk and dry ingredients in batches so they don’t deflate. This creates a light, airy cake.
Second, we like to make the cake a full day ahead. One of the best things about this recipe is that the eponymous tres leches are infused with vanilla, cloves, and cinnamon. All that spicy warmth makes the cake taste like a custardy horchata! We pour the leches over the cake the night before we want to eat it so they have plenty of time to saturate every nook and cranny.
Good golly the first bite…so lush! Tres leches is pretty much a crowd-pleasing A+ for summer birthdays. With its bright red raspberries and tiny mint leaves, it will look super classy on your grandma’s Royal Doulton, but the kiddos will love eating it just as much as the adults.
Tres Leches Cake
To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350º. Lightly butter a 9x13” glass or ceramic baking dish.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs, sugar, and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.
Add half of the dry ingredients and mix at low speed until just incorporated. Gradually add the whole milk, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until the center of the cake springs back to the touch. Transfer to a cooling rack and let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes.
To make the tres leches: In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 ½ cups of the heavy cream, the evaporated milk, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes.
In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and the ground cinnamon. Strain the warm cream into the condensed milk, and whisk to combine. Let cool for 20 minutes.
Using a fork, poke holes all over the cooled cake. Slowly pour the flavored cream over the entire cake. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
To make the whipped cream: In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the remaining 1 ½ cups heavy cream, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Beat on medium-low speed, gradually working up to high speed to avoid splatters, until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes.
Spread the whipped cream on the cake in an even layer. Cut the cake into 12 pieces, garnish each slice with a trio of raspberries and a mint leaf, and serve cold. The finished cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Recipe adapted from: Food & Wine