Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake
I feel lucky to have fantastic friends, and a bonus is that we all share a love of food. One of them invented the ultimate potluck tradition, Misfits Easter. No matter if you celebrate the holiday or not, the point of the get-together is to bring a dish of your best home-cooking, have a few drinks, laugh and just hangout. I look forward to it every year, and for me it really marks the start of spring.

This year’s potluck was themed with tacos al pastor and a full Mexican feast. My contribution was a tres leches cake for dessert. When I poured the milks over the vanilla and cinnamon-scented sponge, I never thought it would drink up all that liquid, but it somehow did. This refreshing cake is meant to feed a crowd and is a must for berry season and all the long summer weekends ahead.
Tres Leches Cake
Tres Leches Cake
Adapted from Food & Wine April 2011

Serves 12

For cake
Butter for greasing dish
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk at room temperature
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 medium cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For toppings
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
Mint leaves for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13-inch by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Mixing on low speed, add half the flour mixture, followed by the whole milk and then the remaining flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake until golden and the center of the cake springs back when pressed, about 25 minutes. Cool the cake on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.

Combine the cream, evaporated milk, cinnamon stick and cloves in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture discarding the cinnamon stick and cloves.

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, remaining vanilla extract and ground cinnamon. Pour in the cream mixture. Cool for 20 minutes.

Use a fork to poke holes all over the cake. Slowly pour the milk mixture over the cake allowing it to absorb the liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours up to overnight.

To make the whipped cream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form about 2-3 minutes. Spread the whipped cream over the cake and arrange the strawberries and mint leaves on top.

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