There comes a time in every college gal's spring semester when she completes her midterms and seeks an appropriate form of celebration. Naturally, I would choose baking a cake and coercing people to eat said cake over any other form of self-congragulation. When I set out to bake a cake I like to fantasize extensively about which sort of cake I should bake. I tend towards extremes and so plain old sort-of-dry vanilla wouldn't do. I prefer my cakes as moist as a rainy day and so tres leches was the natural choice. I imagine tres leches as a cake that is really an edible sponge used as a textural vessel for consuming otherwise absurd amounts of sweetened condensed and evaporated milk.
As I folded my whipped-to-stiff-peaks egg whites into the batter, I imagined how impressed everyone would be with my baking prowess. I imagined how many new friends I would make, and how many old friendships I would reaffirm with my selfless promises of treats. My imagination does tend to run wild. As does my ego.
But it was wonderful to bake again. Recipes read far easier than Hobbes does and I wish I could take tests as successfuly as I can whip egg whites. If only I could poke holes in the things I didn't like and drench them in a sweet, creamy milk mixture then maybe life would be undeniably sweet.
Half way through pouring the mixture of evaporated, condensed, and whole milk onto the cake and into the many four-pronged fork stab wounds I had inflicted upon it in a fit of post-midterm catharsis, I realized I might offend some of my more lactose-intolerant friends. Too late. Anyways, too many of my lactose-intolerant friends are all too willing to suffer a bit of discomfort in the name of dairy consumption. Clearly, they have they priorities straight.
I brought the cake to a gathering of friends, The cake sat pleasantly but a bit precariously on the dresser next to some lysol wipes and a variety of objects one would find on top of a dresser. It slowly dwindled as the curious and the sweet-toothed inquired of its purpose (to be eaten of course). The courageous who could make room for cake despite being "full" (we had just been making and eating pancakes) helped themselves.
We eventually welcomed the end of the night on a quasi-matress-for with hands in the cake pan, sticky with condensed milk and cake crumbs underneath our nails. A lesson in cake, it will always be eaten.
Tres Leches (as per Pioneer Woman's instruction)
- 1 cup All-purpose Flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 5 whole Eggs
- 1 cup Sugar, Divided
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 1/3 cup Milk
- 1 can Evaporated Milk
- 1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk
- 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
- FOR THE ICING:
- 1 pint Heavy Cream, For Whipping
- 3 Tablespoons Sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.
- Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs, this easiest when they are cold and straight from the fridge.
- Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
- Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
- Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.
- Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.
- Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.
- Spread over the surface of the cake. Cut into squares and serve. Or don't cut into square and eat in whatever geometrical way you see fit.