Monday, January 18, 2010
RHC: Torta de las Tres Leches
I think I've had a restaurant version of Torta de las Tres Leches, or "Tres Leches Cake" as the Spanglish version usually has it, maybe once, so my standard of comparison is limited. However, my tasting panel this week includes my older brother, who has sampled it several times and had made a version.
This is another sponge cake, and I noticed as I worked that I'm already feeling more comfortable with this type of cake--I'd never baked one before starting the Heavenly Cakes bake-along. Eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla was lightly beaten, then beaten/stirred over simmering water to warm. Then the bowl was moved over to the KitchenAid for the major beating until very thick--5 minutes of beating or so, though I think I actually overbeat and lost some volume. I should have trusted my eyes and ears (the sound of the beater changed) and quit about 4 minutes in, not continued for nearly the 5 minutes the recipe gave as an approximate time.
Once the eggs were beaten, half the flour was sifted over and folded in. Then the rest of the flour was also folded in, the batter went in a 9x3 inch pan (I used my springform, not having another 9x3), and baked.
Next it was on to the "three milks" part, though this recipe actually uses four. A mix of whole milk and skim milk, with a little sugar, was to be boiled together to reduce the volume by half. This remains one of my least-favorite recipe instructions, as I always end up stopping to measure early (not feeling that I can tell by eye if I'm at 'by half' yet) and then needing to put the mix back on the burner. Well, that wasn't so much the problem this time--I took my eye off the mixture a little too long, and it boiled over and scorched a little on the bottom of the pan for good measure. However, not wanting to start over, I strained the milk into a measuring cup (which let me check on the volume while I was at it), cleaned the pan and the stove, and carefully put the milk back on the burner. After that I stirred almost constantly to keep from having a scorching problem again--no matter what heat setting I used, if I had it simmering then the milk started to stick on the bottom of the pan.
Once the milk was reduced, I poured it back in my measuring cup and stirred in a can of sweetened condensed milk and a cup of heavy cream. That all went in the fridge to chill, and I wrapped up the cake once it had cooled for overnight storage. The next morning I unwrapped the cake, removed the top crust and the parchment that was on the bottom plus some crust there, too, and wrapped the denuded cake back in plastic wrap before putting it in the springform pan, now set in a silicone 9" pan lest the milk mixture leak through my springform. The top crust was really easy to remove--the crust had separated from the cake proper, and could be picked off with my fingers for the most part. The milk was poured over the cake slowly to soak it, and the whole thing was wrapped back up to soak for at least 8 hours.
I poured on the milk Friday morning, then brought the whole thing with me as I drove to south Georgia to meet my brothers for a weekend of sorting and cleaning out my father's house. Saturday night I unmolded the cake into a pie plate , covered it with a layer of whipped cream (I only whipped one cup instead of Rose's cup and a half in a faint attempt at calorie control), and we all dug in. By Sunday night, when I took the remains to my cousins' house (our local relatives spared us finding dinner after 2 full days of sorting and packing), the pie plate had a puddle of milk, and the upper part of the cake was looking dry. I just spooned some milk onto each slice as I served, and the result was fine.
Generally opinions on the cake were positive. Older brother said it was just like Tres Leches Cake should be, and was much better than the recipe he'd tried. The cake was nicely flavored, and the milk soaking makes for an interesting change of pace. Perhaps surprisingly, there weren't many comments of "too sweet" despite the tendency of me and the folks next door (younger brother and family) to think many current American desserts are over-sugared. Only younger niece turned down all but a taste, but she's a reluctant milk drinker. The next night at the cousins' the cake got a more suspicious receptions--few in the group had heard of it, and the concept of cake soaked in milk was quite strange. Those who tried it thought it was good, though. Maybe I converted a few to the idea.