Tres Leches Cake

I did some digging and some reading and wound up making this very cake for Ana’s birthday. She’d grown up eating it and hadn’t had it for over ten years, and she clapped her hands with glee. Then I took a bite and clapped my hands with glee. Then we ate it together. Then we cried together. What a cake this is!

Throw flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl…

And add a little salt. Stir it together and set aside.

Now, separate 5 eggs. Yolks in one bowl…

Whites in the other.

Now, throw the yolks and some sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.

Mix on high until the yolks are pale yellow in color and doubled in volume.

Next add 1/3 cup of whole milk…

And 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Just gently stir the mixture together on the lowest setting, just to combine everything.

Pour the egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture.

Gently stir the mixture together.

Now QUICK! Clean out your mixing bowl and wash the whisk. We need to beat the egg whites and we don’t want to do it by hand because we’re way too lazy for that.

Throw the egg whites into the bowl.

Whip them on high speed until soft peaks form.

With the mixer on high, pour in 1/4 cup sugar. Continue beating until the whites are stiff…but not dry.

Add the egg whites into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients…

Very gently fold the ingredients together until all combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan…

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Spread the top as evenly as you can get it, then pop it in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes.

Take it out when the cake is no longer jiggly, and when a toothpick comes out clean.

Turn the cake onto a rimmed platter…

And let it cool completely.

Now comes the bad part, which, in baking, actually means the good part. Crack open a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Look at this stuff. It’s so underrated. Sweetened condensed milk is the nectar of the southern states.

Pour the whole can into a small pitcher.

Next. pour in a can of evaporated milk. Not as thick and sweet and creamy as the other canned milk, but still a staple.

To this mixture, add 1/4 cup heavy cream, then stir the whole mixture together. (You can also add a tiny splash of rum to this mixture if you’re feeling particularly naughty.)

And those are the three milks. Now, since the cake batter actually contains whole milk, too, a stickler for details might raise a stink and demand that the name be changed to Cuatro Leches Cake.

Sticklers for details. They’re always causing trouble.

When the cake is cooled, pierce the surface with a fork.

And now. Prepare yourself. Put away all preconceived ideas and notions and prejudices and hangups.

Slowly drizzle all but 1 cup of the 3-milk mixture all over the surface of the cake.

As you pour, the mixture will begin to seep into the light, airy cake.

Try your best to evenly distribute the liquid over the surface.

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The hardest part is getting the liquid around the edge of the cake.

Actually, the hardest part is holding a camera in your right hand and trying to take a photo of your left hand pouring liquid around the edge of the cake.

Food blogging: It’s not just a job—it’s an adventure.

**Just discard the last 1 cup of liquid. It usually proves to be a little much.

Now, allow the cake to sit for 20 to 30 minutes.

The liquid will soak into the top, and run down the sides and work its way underneath the cake. Just you watch.

Look! This is 30 minutes later.

Now, pour 1 pint of very cold whipped cream into the mixer. Add 3 tablespoons of sugar to give it a little sweetness.

Whip the heck out of it until it’s very stiff and spreadable. On high speed, this only takes about a minute.

Plop it right on top of the milk-soaked cake and start spreading.

I give you permission to lick the spoon when you’re finished!

Use a smaller knife to get around the sides of the cake.

And that’s it!

I’m purring like a kitten right now. Look at this lovely little treat! Now, I feel compelled to point out that the pieces in the middle of the cake—that is, the pieces with no baked edge—are the best. They’re always nice and evenly soaked with the milk mixture. Sometimes I’ll even cut around the edge of the cake with a very sharp knife and remove the drier edges. Tres Leches Cake should be ultra moist!

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Tres Leches Cake should also be topped with a maraschino cherry. Ana says so.

How lovely!

But seriously. Lovely aside, I want you to look at this up close and personal.

I’m dying. I just ate a piece of this last night, but this morning I can hardly stand to look without running to the fridge and getting another piece.

If you’d like to change things up a bit, you can also chop up a bunch of cherries…

And sprinkle them over the top instead.

I prefer the kitschy nature of the single cherry, but this approach definitely gets more cherry flavor distributed to every bite.

Guys, you’ll love Tres Leches Cake. Make it sometime soon.

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