Spring is one of my favorite times of year. It’s a time for renewal, new beginnings, and growth. Spring means strawberries, planting seeds, and flowers opening up to the sun for the first time. What better time to start a blog? What better time than to celebrate? Spring, to me, means Tres Leches Cake!
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I ever had a bite of Tres Leches Cake, a popular Latin American treat that derives it’s name from the three different types of milk involved that put this beauty in a class of it’s own. But once I discovered the deliciousness, there was no looking back. This has become a must on my list of springtime cakes. A fluffy vanilla sponge cake soaked in sweet milk, topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream – what could be better?
Well, actually… adding strawberries. The classic version of this cake doesn’t typically include fruit, but I find that fresh, juicy spring strawberries take this cake to the next level. The little hit of tartness and acidity add another layer of dimension to the pillowy cream and sweet milk. This cake is also usually made as a single layer cake and cut into squares. But, I love layer cakes. So my version boasts two thick layers of cake sandwiching the whipped cream and macerated berries. Tall, proud, and striking. I don’t think anyone is gonna complain about the extras.
Tres Leches Cake
white cake layer:
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
6 egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
tres leches soak:
1 cup heavy cream
1- 12 oz can evaporated milk
1- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
strawberries & sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
For the cake, butter two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites, milk, and vanilla together.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients together with the vanilla bean seeds until combined. Add the soft butter and beat on low for 2-3 minutes, until you have consistent, moist crumbs. Beat in all but 1/2 cup of the milk mixture. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth, 3-4 minutes. Slowly pour in remaining milk and beat until combined.
Divide batter between the two pans and bake until lightly golden brown on top and knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
While cake cools, slice up your strawberries, toss in a bowl with a little sprinkle of sugar, and let sit for an hour or so. Stir together the three milks in a bowl. Whip heavy cream and sugar until medium peaks form and chill until ready to use.
When cakes are completely cool, carefully slice or peel away the thin skin on the top of the cake so that your milk mixture can better soak in. Set one of your cake layers on a serving platter. Pour milk soak evenly over bottom cake layer or apply with a pastry brush. Keep adding more milk mixture, a little at a time, until cake seems to be fully saturated, and allow to soak in for a few minutes.
Apply a thick layer of whipped cream on top and smooth. Add sliced berries in an even layer. Dollop a bit of whipped cream in the center, on top of the berries, to cement the next layer on. Add the second cake layer on top of this and secure by pressing down gently. Repeat the process of soaking this next layer with the milk mixture. Top with more whipped cream and frost as desired. Serve cake in slices, spooning a bit of remaining milk soak on each plate underneath the cake.