The sad cake pictured above was the one and only time that my Sky High cake book failed me. I was excited by the prospect of a layered tres leches cake- I'd never seen one before.
And it turns out, there may be a good reason for the absence of layered tres leches cakes. This one failed, for sure. All the egginess sank to the bottom of the layers, becoming a hard, plastic-like shell. What's worse, I spent an hour stirring dolce de leche on the stove, and it turned out grainy and was only meant to be whipped into the cream for the frosting. The recipe is definitely fixable, but I won't have time to mess with that mess for a long time.
Anyway, I decided to go with one of the more traditional recipes, all of which consist of a basic sponge cake soaked in a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream or half and half, all covered in sweetened whipped cream and cinnamon. Hard to go wrong there.
I sifted through many, many recipes, trying very hard not to make the Pioneer Woman's recipe, because seriously, a million bloggers out there have blogged about the recipe. But in the end, you can't argue with a million bloggers all claiming that Ree Drummond's Tres Leches Cake is the reason they get out of bed in the morning. So I tweaked it and made it- several times. For me, for the restaurant, and for a potluck. And it was very good. But I have a feeling that any good sponge cake recipe could yield you very similar results, if you'll forgive me for saying so.
I never cease to be astounded by the magical and versatile properties of eggs. I feel an egg post coming on soon...
And really, this cake is awesome in general. It's like the best parts of cake and custard combined.
Tres Leches Cake adapted from the Pioneer Woman
1 cup flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 cup sugar, divided (3/4 and 1/4 cups)
1 t vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
Cinnamon, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9X13 in pan.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks in your mixer with 3/4 cup sugar until thick and pale. Stir in the vanilla and the milk. Stir the egg mixture gently into the flour mixture.
Wash the mixer bowl, and beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the whites into the batter, trying not to lose the volume. Don't over mix. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30-40 minutes. It's done when the knife or toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool. At this point you can transfer it to a pretty dish that has a rim, or you can keep it in the baking dish. Stab the cake all over with a fork. Combine the three milks in a spouted containing and mix well. Slowly, in stages if necessary, pour the milk mixture over the cake. It should all absorb into the cake eventually. It is best to refrigerate it overnight to allow complete assimilation of cake and milk.
The next day, beat the heavy cream and the 1/2 cup of sugar in your mixer at high speed until thick. Don't over whip, or it will get grainy and eventually turn into butter.
Spread the whipped cream over the cake and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve. Enjoy.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a shot of the finished, sliced cake. But if you feel the need for in-depth photo documentation of the whole process, check out the Pioneer Woman's site- she always documents every single step and detail of her dishes.