Pastel de Tres Leches

We haven’t had cable television for a long time. And I must admit that the only thing I miss about it is the Food Network! So, while staying at his mother’s house, John so kindly recorded a bunch of Good Eats episodes on Tivo. I watched one after the next, trying to absorb as many tricks and techniques as possible! One of the episodes was on milk, which is an ingredient that I usually find to be quite boring. But, of course Alton Brown made it interesting! He made this amazing Mexican cake which he poured milk over and let it absorb overnight before frosting it with whipped cream. Something about this process made my mouth water!

After my interpretive post on the Carmelite Monastery, Diana requested that I create something in honor of Taqueria Los Gallos. Well, here it is! It may not represent the rooster well, but it is damn tasty after spicy tacos!

While making this cake, I kept getting the feeling that I was doing something wrong. So, if that happens to you, don’t fret and just trust the process! It feels awfully weird to make a dense and short cake, then poke holes in it and pour milk over it… but that is the beauty in this recipe- it is weird and it works. Just remember it is milk-cake, so it is supposed to be a bit of a mess! Also, this cake has to sit overnight, so make sure to make it a day ahead of your big cake eating bonanza!

I modified Alton’s recipe to make it less sweet by reducing the sugar and added a horchata-like flavor with cinnamon and almonds. I think next time I’d like to make horchata and add it to the milk mixture.

For the Cake:

  • Vegetable oil to grease the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Glaze:

  • 1 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 7oz can sweetened condensed milk (or half of a 14oz can)
  • 1 cup half and half

For the Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

To Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly oil and flour a 13 x 9 inch metal pan, set aside.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl, set aside.
  4. Beat the butter on medium speed in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer for about one minute.
  5. Gradually beat the sugar into the butter until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  7. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.
  8. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches and mix to combine.
  9. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly- it looks like a small amount of batter.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cake reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees (yes, you can measure it with a meat thermometer). It would look flat and wimpy when it comes out of the oven, but don’t fret!
  11. Place the pan on a cooling rack for 30 minutes.
  12. Poke holes all over the cake with a skewer or fork.
  13. Leave the cake on the rack to cool completely, about 3 hours.

To Make the Glaze:

  1. Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and half and half in a small bowl.
  2. Pour the mixture over the cooled cake and swish around so it is evenly distributed.
  3. Cover the cake and place in the refrigerator overnight.

To Make the Topping:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Place the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
  3. Toast the almonds in the oven for about 10 minutes, stirring every two minutes to check for doneness. They should be slightly darker in color and smell delicous.
  4. Remove the almonds from the oven and transfer to a plate to cool.
  5. Mix the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla on medium in a stand mixer with whisk attachment or using a hand mixer in a medium bowl. Beat until stiff peaks are formed.
  6. Spread the topping over the cake evenly.
  7. Sprinkle the cooled almonds over the whipped topping.
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3 Responses to “Pastel de Tres Leches”

  1. Meemers Says:

    That looks amazingly decadant. You definitely need more TV time if this is the result.

  2. Susan N. Says:

    Kricket, I LOVE what you did with 3 leches. Working here in Watsonville I’ve had this cake A LOT and it tends to be a “I can only have 2 bites” (LITERALLY) experience for me. Making it less sweet and more Horchata-y was an inspired decision! Really yummy and with a cup o’ my favorite coffee substitute—’Dandy Blend’–look for it in your local health food store– eating the whole piece in one sitting is now an option for me!

  3. Alison Says:

    Wow this does look decadent and quite tasty too.

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