Tres Leches was my first poke cake and still my go to after all these years.
A traditional tres leches cake has to be one of my all time favorite desserts. I have loved it ever since I was little. Every time my family and I would go out to dinner, I usually asked for a traditional tres leches cake for dessert. Sometimes I had to share, sometimes I didn’t.
When I moved to the U.S., people at first looked confused when I talked about this cake. For many of my friends “baking” a cake involved a box! This is an abomination if you come from a culture that values food made from scratch. Things have definitely changed for the better.
The original poke cake!
Next, you want to poke some holes in it with a skewer when the cake has cooled. Don’t poke it while it is hot. By the way, my husband pointed out that recently there is a rising popularity in what are known as “poke cakes” where a cake is poked full of holes, and then drenched in some glorious liquid. Well, it all started with tres leches cake-the original poke cake!
When my kids were growing up and wanted to take something special into school, I was quickly recruited to bake one of these. What I love the most about this dessert, is that you can adapt it to any occasion. I think for the upcoming holidays, it would be a lot of fun to give it a festive look.
MMmm time to pour
After you’ve poked all the holes in the cooled cake, it’s time to pour the sweet milky elixir all over your cake.
When making a traditional tres leches cake it’s really important that you use good quality milks, all three of them. Having said this I will be using Carnation Evaporated Milk, as one of the milks in the tres leches mixture. The other two milk types are: heavy cream, and La Lechera sweetened condensed milk. I bought all of these products at my local Walmart which is only five minutes from my house.
Nestlé products are great! They are very affordable, and high quality too. I would encourage everyone to purchase any of their delicious products for your recipe needs.
As far as the origins of this delicious cake are concerned, no one is really sure. However, some food historians think that a version of this cake had its origins in Medieval Europe. Cakes soaked in a liquid were popular during these times.
When the liquid has soaked in, it is time to frost the cake with nothing more that whipping cream.
Traditional tres leches cake is popular throughout Latin America. It is also a favorite in the Caribbean. My Puerto Rican friend, loves it.
In the whole scheme of things, this cake is not really that old. Condensed milk came into existence in the 1850s, and evaporated milk in the 1870s. This cake recipe probably came about as a way to moisten a sponge base, just my guess. Actually this cake kind of reminds me of a similar dessert: Jamaican Toto.
Looking for another dessert to wow your guests? Try my Creamy Walnut Tartlets.
Q: How do I know how long to beat the egg yolks and sugar mixture?
A: You want to beat the yolks until they are fluffy and are at the ribbon stage. When you remove the beater and drizzle the yolks back into the bowl it forms a ribbon on the surface. Check out Crafty Baking for everything you want to know about beating eggs as a resource.
Traditional Tres Leches Cake
A deliciously moist cake made with three types of milk: sweetened condensed, cream, and evaporated milk. Perfect for any occasion.
Preheat oven to 350'F.
Butter a 9"x11" glass pan, then lightly flour.
Separate the eggs from the yolks and place them in different bowls.
In the bowl of a stand up mixer place the yolks. Slowly add the sugar while beating on high. Continue to mix until the yolks are fluffy. Mix in the vanilla.
Sift the flour into a bowl. Add in the baking powder and salt.
In another bowl beat the whites until they form soft peaks.
Slowly fold the whites int the yolk mixture using a spatula. Next, slowly sift the flour mixture into the yolk mixture and fold ingredients carefully.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place in center rack, and bake for about 35-40* minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding the milk mixture.
In a large bowl whisk together evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and milk.
Pour milk mixture all over the cake, and allow it to soak for about an hour before frosting.
Beat whipping cream with the powdered sugar until thick. Spread over cake using a flat frosting spatula.
*I usually check my tres leches cake after about 35 minutes to make sure it does not overcook.