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Cinqo de Rory: Tres Leches Cake

Cinqo de Mayo has always had a special meaning to my family, because it also happens to be my brother Rory’s birthday. It being a mere two days away, I thought I would make something in honour of both the holiday and my brother – who happens to love my Tres Leches cake.

Making my brother laugh on his wedding day... it's what I do.

Making my brother laugh on his wedding day… it’s what I do (Jennifer Mott Photography).

The first time I made this cake he was all like:

“It’s good… but isn’t there supposed to be coconut milk in it?”

And I was all like:

“No. But that would be delicious.”

My usual Tres Leches, with maraschino cherries!

My usual Tres Leches, with maraschino cherries!

Tres Leches is a traditional Latin American cake. You’ll find different variations depending on where you find yourself in the region. The classic is a sponge or sponge-like cake soaked in a combination of cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk that gets masked in a lovely, soft whipped cream. It’s at its best when it’s a few days old and kept in the fridge.

My husband isn’t the biggest fan of coconut milk, so I have yet to try it out. That said, it would be so simple to replace the cream in this recipe with coconut milk. Alternatively, you could replace the whipped cream (which is used to frost the finished cake) with whipped coconut cream for a delicious lower-fat coating.

I usually garnish the cake with maraschino cherries, but I just moved to this country. I can barely find eggs in the grocery stores, let alone maraschino cherries (the eggs are in a non-refrigerated section of the grocery stores, FYI).

Lacking maraschino cherries, there is a wonderful guy in Templemore, Tipperary named Peter who owns a fruit and vegetable shop. Since we spend our weekends on the farm in Tipp, we like to get our week’s fruit and veg there because it is such great quality. I found some seriously juicy mangoes there last weekend and blitzed them into a chunky puree – a great compliment to the rich, milky cake.

Tres Leches with Mango Puree

Tres Leches with Mango Puree

Cinqo de Rory Tres Leches Cake

For the Cake:

1 cup granulated sugar

2 whole eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup whole milk

3 Tbsp butter

1 cup AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

For the Milk Mixture:

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup 35% cream

For the Whipped Cream:

1 cup 35% cream

1 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (or 170 degrees Celsius). Grease and flour a spring-form cake pan.
  • In your stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until doubled in volume and very pale yellow in colour.
  • In a small saucepan, bring the milk and butter to a boil. Remove from heat immediately.
  • Sift dry ingredients into the egg/sugar mixture, then gently fold.
  • Add the hot milk to the batter and mix until just incorporated.
  • Scrape batter into the greased/floured pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. The cake should be springy and well-risen.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then, using a fork, poke holes throughout the entire surface.
  • In a large measuring cup or small pitcher, mix the three types of milk and gently pour over the surface of the cake to soak. Cover the top of the cake with cling wrap and leave to soak in the fridge (I usually leave it overnight).
  • When well soaked and chilled, gently remove the sides of the spring-form pan. Whip cream with vanilla until slightly thickened, then add the confectioner’s sugar. Continue to whip until soft peaks are reached, then ice the cake with the whipped cream.
  • Store the cake, covered, in the fridge for up to five days.

Happy Cinqo de Rory!

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