Tres leches cake is, so I hear, quite ubiquitous in Latin America and very popular in the US. It is also, apparently, quite the fashion in Albania. I’d love it to become more popular here in blighty since it’s pretty darn good cake. It is, essentially, a light-as-air sponge cake soaked in ‘three milks’: sticky, sweet condensed milk, evaporated milk and rich, fresh cream; and, if you like, a kick of rum. The sponge, being made of eggs whipped up to frothy peaks, is full of tiny bubbles which act as little pockets to hold the milks which means the cake is incredibly moist but not soggy. As you can probably imagine, for something soaked in condensed milk, this cake is quite sweet so it is just perfect topped with softly whipped cream and fresh summer berries which are tart enough to balance out the favours.
Tres leches cake makes a wonderful summer cake for a tea party or dinner; it’s so pretty decorated with a riot of red, pink and purple berries, simple and elegant at the same time. Once it’s been doused in milk, the cake goes in the fridge to chill so it’s cool and remarkably refreshing when served: not what your guest are expecting but a pleasant surprise. And that’s what I really love about tres leches – it’s not your everyday cake, it’s a bit of a surprise. Tell someone you’re serving them sponge cake soaked in milk and they’ll probably think you’re nuts (unless they’ve already been inducted into the tres leches club) but one bite in they’ll wonder how they’d gone so long without this cake in their lives.
Tres leches cake with berries
Adapted very slightly from Simon Rimmer on Saturday Kitchen
For the cake:
- 4 eggs, separated
- 150g sugar
- 200g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 100ml milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the milk sauce:
- 397ml condensed milk
- 350ml evaporated milk
- 200ml double cream
- 3 tbsp rum
For the topping:
- 150ml double cream
- fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, red currants, cherries)
First make the cake. Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease a 23cm square pan (but not one with a loose base! I used a pyrex dish).
In a spotlessly clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks, add 50g sugar and beat until stiff.
In another large bowl beat the yolks and remaining sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift over the flour and baking powder and fold in. Stir in the milk and vanilla.
Fold one-third of the egg whites into the yolk batter to loosen then gently fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 30–40 minutes. The cake is ready when it’s golden and a skewer comes out clean.
While the cake is baking stir together the milk sauce ingredients.
As soon as the cake comes out the oven prick it all over with a fork and gradually pour over the majority of the sauce, about ¾. Allow to cool in the baking dish then chill.
Two hours before serving pour over the remaining sauce.
Just before serving turn the cake out and whip the 150ml cream to firm peaks. Spread the cream over the top of the cake and decorate with fresh berries.