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Daring Bakers: Pastel de Tres Leches

Friday, September 27, 2013

I have wondered what a tres leches cake would taste like ~ actually it was more the texture that I was worried about. Would it be soggy? Would it be too sweet with all that condensed milk in it? So although I was curious, I never really wanted to find out and perhaps waste a cake. Until this Daring Baker's challenge.
Inma of la GalletIKA was our September 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and wow, did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake: creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy ... just plain delish!
According to Inma, her recipe was slightly adapted from the one given by one of Mexico's best pastry chefs, Paulina Abascal, to the magazine Revista Secretos de la Pastelería Caserais.
Being the coconut fiend that I am, of course I made the coconut tres leches cake variation that Inma provided. I changed the recipe slightly, scaling it down by about half (using three medium eggs instead of five large ones), including some rice flour in the mix and adding coconut extract for flavour. This was certainly a light, airy sponge.
The cake was baked in a log shape in what is called a "half roll bake pan". I saw it one day and bought it thinking I would use it all the time, but haven't. It does make a nice looking cake with the fluted top, which also makes dividing the cake very easy. However, after spreading the topping on, that was all lost. (A week later, I made the cake again, this time in a rectangle baking tin.)
Looking at Inma's recipe, I thought there was just too much leche, so I used just a quarter of what was called for in her original recipe. Maybe the larger amount was necessary, but I really didn't want to end up with too much extra milk. Having said that though, the mixture was absolutely delicious! I bet it would make superb ice cream. (And I used the leftover as a topping for butterscotch banana sourdough pancakes.) 
A cake filled with three kinds of milk, and decorated with pastry cream and coloured dessicated coconut
Coconut Pastel de Tres Leche
Three-milk cake with a touch of chocolate. Serves 10-12

3 medium eggs, separated, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
60g caster sugar
½ tsp each vanilla extract and coconut extract
65g all-purpose flour
1 tbsp rice flour
1½ tbsp cocoa powder mixed into a paste with 2 tbsp water

100ml condensed milk (or condensed filled milk)
90ml fresh coconut milk (or a good quality canned or boxed one)
60ml evaporated milk (or evaporated filled milk)

Whipped cream or pastry cream
Toasted shredded or dessicated coconut

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a half roll bake pan (or similar sized pan) well.
Beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they form soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium high speed until they form stiff peaks, 3-5 minutes.
Beat the egg yolks until they are pale and thickened, and leave ribbons when the whisk is lifted, 3-5 minutes. Quickly beat in the extracts.
Add the beaten yolks to the whites and fold together with a large rubber spatula. They do not have to be completely blended at this time.
Stir the flours together and sift over the eggs. Fold in quickly but gently to keep the mixture from deflating. Fold in the cocoa paste (it's okay of it's streaky).
Transfer to the prepared tin, level the top and bake until risen and and springy, and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.
Cool in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack. Place rack over a large baking pan. With a skewer or fork, poke holes all over the cake right down to the bottom.
For the filling, heat the three milks together with a pinch of salt until the mixture comes to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for a further 3 minutes. Take off the heat and leave for 5 minutes.
Spoon a third of the warm milk over the cake and leave for 10 minutes. Repeat this two more times. (As the milk sits, it will thicken, so after the third application, it will leave a sticky topping on the cake.) Don't forget to spoon the milk that drips down into the baking tray below the wire rack back onto the cake.
Refrigerate the cake overnight for the milk to soak in thoroughly.
Spread whipped cream or pastry cream over the cake, and decorate with toasted coconut.


  1. Your cake is bright and colorful! I too have always not wanted to waste a cake in case it was too soggy. Nice job on the challenge!

  2. Love the pink coconut, lovely and bright!

  3. You went all out on this challenge, Jane! A great job as always! Unfortunately I couldn't make it this month. I wonder how delicious this cake is!

  4. I too was curious about this cake and have yet to bake one, maybe now I should huh! Love the way you decorate yours, so bright!:D


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