There are a couple of bakeries in Santo Domingo famous for their tres leches (three-milk cake). Each version is slightly different, especially their textures and sweetness levels.
There are many theories on the origin of tres leches cake; whatever it might be the fact is that it has become part of our vernacular cuisine and one of everybody’s favorites.
The arrival of tres leches to our country is relatively recent. I think the first time I saw it was sometime in the early 80s, when it suddenly became the “belle du jour” in every bakery.
However, tres leches is not the first cake with this concept. The Italian tiramisú is also soaked in liquid (coffee). Perhaps this was the inspiration for this version.
Despite the sweetness and richness, tres leches is not a cloying cake. And therein lies its danger.
Its smooth, moist texture easily leads to overeating. A sin I have most definitely been known to have indulged in. Because if gluttony will be the cause of your downfall, you can’t make a better choice than this dessert to do it.
- 1⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup of unsalted butter (1/2 sticks) at room temperature
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3 medium eggs, separated eggs and yolks
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon of butter to butter pan
- 1 tablespoon of flour to butter pan
- ~For garnishing:
- ¾ cups of sweetened, condensed milk
- 1 cup of evaporated milk
- ½ cup skim milk
- ¾ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 cup of whipping cream
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- Strawberries or cherries for decoration (optional)
- Butter and flour a baking pan (3" height x 9" diameter [7.5 cm heigh x 22.5 cm diam]).
- Heat oven to 350 °F [175 °C].
- Using the wire whisk of your mixer beat the whites until they form peaks. Add half the sugar and beat until it is incorporated. Pour into a large bowl and reserve.
- Using the paddle attachment of your mixer beat butter and yolks for 3 minutes at medium high speed.
- Add the remaining sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy and has a very light yellow color (about 5 mins). Add vanilla extract then slowly add the flour until it's well-mixed. Remove from the mixer.
- Add ⅓ of the egg whites. Using a spatula, fold in the egg whites into the flour mix. Add the remaining white in two steps folding in each time with the spatula.
- Pour batter into the baking pan.
- Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and it has a golden color on top (about 35 mins).
- Cool to room temperature before removing from the pan. Place on a lipped plate that can hold the milk sauce.
- Mix evaporated, skim and condensed milk. Mix in the vanilla extract.
- Poke holes into the cake using a fork. Pour the milk mixture on top of the cake and let it soak in. Bathing it regularly until it has absorbed half of the liquid (one to two hours) keeping in the refrigerator all this time.
- Chill the mixer bowl and wire whisk before the next step.
- Beat the whipping cream over medium high speed until it starts to form peaks (about 3 mins).
- Add the powdered sugar and beat until it is mixed in, but careful not to overdo it or the cream will turn into butter.
- Spread the whipped cream on the chilled cake and decorate with strawberries or cherries.
- Chill for another 10 minutes before serving