Baking birthday treats is one of my favorite things when it comes to celebrating a birthday. Well that and wrapping presents, I seriously love wrapping presents, it’s like an art for me. With so many summer birthdays, it has been quite busy in my kitchen so I thought I’d share one of my recent birthday baking ventures.
A few years ago, upon hearing that a friend’s favorite cake was tres leches, I promised I would make it for their next birthday. Well that “next” birthday turned into a few years later, but hey, who’s counting? I came through on that promise which is all that matters! What better way to celebrate a summer birthday than a chilled cake soaked in all the tasty milks and smothered in a layer of whipped cream. No need to go through scooping a melting bucket of ice cream to accompany this cake, it has everything it needs in one compact slice!
So what is tres leches cake anyway? It is a light sponge cake that has been soaked in not one, not two, but THREE different types of milk. This liquid gold mixture is made up of heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Now I must say in reading through recipes for this cake, it went against all of my instincts to pour almost three cups of liquid onto a perfectly baked cake, but trust me, the cake will hold its structure and the results are soooo worth it. As its name proclaims, the sponge cake absorbs and retains all of the sweet milk mixture, giving each wonderful bite of cake a liquid layer of sweetness.
This recipe is courtesy of The Pioneer Woman whose step-by-step recipe and pictures take all of the guesswork out and produce amazing results! I did make a few modifications to the final product to add my own little spin of course. While her recipe suggests using all but one cup of the milk mixture, I poured on all but 1/3 cup; I had faith that my cake was up to the challenge. Her recipe also says to let the cake cool completely before adding the milk mixture, but I decided to add it while the cake had only cooled for about 10 minutes. Honestly I had other birthday preparations to get to and couldn’t wait for the cake to sit out. After pouring all of that sweet milk over the cake, I popped it into the refrigerator to let it chill and do its spongy job for three hours. After frosting it with the whipped cream topping, I decided it needed a little birthday pizzazz. Sprinkles wouldn’t quite do as this cake is light and delicate and the slight crunch of a sprinkle would detract from that. Since the cake had a white frosting, dusting it in powdered sugar was not an option either. Then, lightbulb!, a light dusting of cinnamon would do quite nicely. The cake was finished and ready for a celebration!
This cake can be made in the morning and enjoyed that evening during birthday festivities for around 16 people depending on how generous you are being with your slices. And don’t forget to save a small slice for yourself to enjoy with coffee the next morning, this is a must and perk to being the baker 🙂 Happy birthday to all you summer babies!
*Recipe & Instructions on The Pioneer Woman: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/09/tres-leches-cake/