Joy the Baker

Tres Leches Cake

April 27, 2010

Tres Leches Cake

Here’s the thing about love…. allow me to speak as an authority on the subject for a moment.

The thing about love is this:  you have to fall into it with everything.  Arms flailing, smiling like a maniac, giddy beyond belief, with all of who you are.  You have to go big.  You have to leave nothing behind.  You have to risk it all.  That’s the only way it has a chance of working… right?

And even then… sometimes it doesn’t work.  And you fall flat on your face.  And it sucks.  And there’s no way that it won’t suck… so you just have to sit with the suck for a while.  And then sit with it some more…. and a little more still.

And then I suppose you separate yourself from all the suck and try again… later.  Waaaaaay later. Cause your face is sore from where you totally fell on it.

That’s how it works, right?

This helps… but isn’t always foolproof.

Know what also helps?  Cake.  Cake with milk.  So there.  Put that little gem in your brainhole.

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake

I wanted to give you a closer look at this cake.  It really is special.

The cake base is a dense yellow cake flavored with just a hint of almond extract.  The cake batter has a lot of eggs in it.  So many eggs you might feel a little uneasy.  Not to worry.  Everything will work out.

I think the secret to this cake is pre-slicing the cake just before soaking it in milk.  I soak my cake slices for about 4 to five hours.  I’m not an overnight soaker.  I don’t like super soggy cake.

I love the coconut milk in this recipe.  Coconut milk and cinnamon and a hint of cardamom.  It’s rich… but still delightfully light… and just otherwise lovely.

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake

makes 18 cubes of cake

adapted from Alton Brown

Print this Recipe!

For the Cake:

1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tablespoon of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

5 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

For the Glaze:

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

3/4 cup half and half

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 cinnamon stick

1 cardamom pod

3 Tablespoons aged rum

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine.  It’s a lot of eggs and the mixture will appear soupy.  Add the vanilla and almond extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Slice the edges off the entire cake and portion into 18 cubes of cake.  Poke the top of each slice with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, half and half, coconut milk, cinnamon and cardamom in a saucepan over medium heat.  Allow to just warm, cover and place in the fridge for 2 hours.  Stir in the rum.  Arrange the tres leches cake in a dish with 1-inch sides.  Pour the milks over the cake slowly.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Most people like to leave the cakes to soak overnight…. but I don’t like overly soggy cake and find that four hours is juuuust fine.

Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream.

Tres Leches Cake


135 Comments Add A Comment

  • Mmmmm… the first time I saw this cake was at the Pioneer Woman’s site… She didn’t use coconut milk though, and it sounds PERFECT for this cake!

    I love that first part you wrote. You’re amazingly eloquent and funny, even about the sometimes most heartbreaking subjects. I hope the cake made you feel much better! ;)

    Wei-Wei

  • This cake looks amazing! I know I’ve fallen on my face for a boy..and when it’s over, cake helps.

  • I’ve never tried Tres Leche Cake but I love any sweet with cardamom so giving this a try.

  • Excited to try this with coconut milk – though I must confess, I am definitely an overnight soaker. I love this cake soggy.

  • hmm, yum yum yum! what a coincidence!
    i had never heard about this cake until my lovely flatmate from the dominican republic told me about it and i knew i was gonna like it!
    apparently she told a chef at school about it you immediately asked her to make one the very same night. which she did. a whole big double batch for the chefs at school and another one for me! ;D
    because students wanted some too she had to make another one the next day and surprisingly they came out quite differently. her recipe is a good bit different to yours anyway as it includes dulce de leche instead of coconut but which she wasnt able to get and substituted with guava jam…
    i preferred the first batch that was swimming in the delightful liquid and was really soggy to the second drier and desnser one that tasted a whole lot more of rum. i know you like your rum… but personally i believe itd be even better with the dulce de leche! dulce de leche makes everything better! ;P
    hers also had meringue on top which i scraped off because i felt it added unneccessary sweetness. now i wanna try your recipe or make an adaptation of the both of them…oh boy, delicious or what?!

  • Tres leches is my absolute favorite cake!! So much that it wa my wedding cake! Or part of it :)

  • Oh Joy, these look lovely.
    I always, always make mine with coconut milk but never thought to add cardamom.

  • I adore tres leches cake! I first made it from the Pioneer Womans recipe and we have been in love with it ever since!

  • This looks wonderful! I’ve tried tres leches cake from the Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I’ll definitely give yours a try!

  • Oh, Joy. You have such a delightful and humorous way of describing some of the most complicated (and sometimes) painful things about life. We all adore you for it. Also, I’m kind of a Tres Leches fanatic, so I adore you for that, too ;) I’m off to buy some condensed milk!

  • This looks amazing and delicious. :)

  • Interesting cake, I’ll definitely try it!

  • My face is totally sore. Maybe this cake will help!

  • Oh Joy, those look like little squares of heaven. I bet they’re great with the coconut milk! I gotta try this as soon as exams are over…

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