Torta de las Tres Leches

I don’t speak Spanish; am I allowed to call this “Three Milks Cake”?

This is yet another dessert whose party I’m joining late. I had never heard of Tres Leches cake until I saw one on Cake Wrecks a few weeks ago. I found a recipe online that gives ingredients by weight, but then last weekend when I was at the Cambridge Library to check out Dessert University by Roland Mesnier, I spotted Rose’s Heavenly Cakes and grabbed it, too. Rose Levy Beranbaum always gives weights for her ingredients, and she has a recipe for Tres Leches cake, so I gave that a whirl today. I was a little nervous because this is a foam cake (no chemical leaveners), but clearly it rose okay:

Tres Leches cake, baked and ready to cool

Tres Leches cake, baked and ready to cool

Rose calls for a 9×3-inch round pan; I have 9×2-inch round cake pans, which are obviously not big enough, but I have this springform pan that’s about 9½x2¾ inches, which is close:
4½ x 4½ x 3.14 x 3 = ~190.75cubic inches
4¾ x 4¾ x 3.14 x 2¾ = ~194.83 cubic inches
and obviously it worked. The springform pan makes it pretty easy to handle getting the cake out of the pan to cool:

Tres Leches cake cooling

Tres Leches cake cooling

One interesting thing about Rose’s recipe compared with Alton Brown’s is that his has butter and chemical leaveners, and hers just has eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and flour. I suspect the lower fat content of Rose’s cake allows the cake to absorb the milk mixture better, but that’s just a guess.

Another interesting thing about Rose’s recipe is she wants you to combine 2½ cups of whole milk and 2½ cups of skim milk and then boil that until it’s reduced from the 5 cups to 2½. I thought very briefly about standing over a hot stove half the evening running up my gas bill and then letting the refrigerator work to cool the mixture, but I decided the sensible thing was to measure out 2½ cups of whole milk and add 2½ scoops of skim milk powder to it. Then you add a can of sweetened condensed milk and a cup of heavy cream, which comes to about 5 cups all together. I got everything but the cream mixed in a quart measuring cup, and then I put half of that into another quart measuring cup and added ½ cup of heavy cream to each.

So you peel the top crust off the cake, wrap the cake in plastic, and return the cake to the pan:

Peeled cake ready to be soaked

Peeled cake ready to be soaked

Then you soak the cake with the milk mixture:
Cake soaked with milk mixture

Cake soaked with milk mixture

Then you cover that with plastic and put it in the refrigerator overnight, which is what I’ve done. Then you clean the kitchen, which is what I’m going to do now.

Rose Levy Beranbaum: Torta de las Tres Leches. In Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. Hoboken: John Wiley, 2009, p. 211.
Roland Mesnier: Dessert University. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.


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