Pastel De Tres Leches - Daring Bakers Challenge

This month's challenge for the Daring Bakers was just perfect to cool off the heat this past week. A chilled super moist cake soaked in a mixture of sweetness layered with fruit and whipped cream...mmm..! Sound familiar?

"Inma of la Galletika was our Sept. 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!"

I've made Tres Leches before so this wasn't so much of a challenge for me. What was different however, was the fact that this was a free-standing layered Tres Leches as opposed to the Tres Leches I've always made which is a cake soaked in a pan. I never had to worry about how well the cake was soaked or if it would make a huge mess by oozing out the excess milk mixture. So this, I really wanted to try. 

Recipe Source: This recipe is slightly adapted from an interview given by one of Mexico's best Pastry Chefs; Paulina Abascal to the magazine Revista Secretos de la PastelerĂ­a Caserais. It produces a super moist, yet light Tres Leches.


Mandatory Items: You have to make 1 three milks cake.

I was waiting all month for a reason to make the Tres Leches.I didn't want to land up eating all of it myself :) I'm taking this to dinner to a friend's place tonight. 

Preparation time: 1 hour and a half
Equipment required:
• A scale for measuring all ingredients
• Some bowls
• Stand mixer
• Strainer to sift the flour
• Egg Whisk
• Square Cake pan 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan
• Saucepan
• Pastry brush
• Pastry Spatula 

Classic Three Milks Cake:
Servings: 12

You will need:

For the Sponge Cake:
5 large eggs at room temp (separated)
½ cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (125 gm) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) of vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) (5 oz) (140gm) all-purpose (plain) flour (sifted)

For three milks syrup:
1 can (14 oz) (400 gm) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 oz) (340 gm) evaporated milk
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream (about 35% fat) or 1 cup of half & half or 1 cup milk
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons (10 ml) rum (or other flavoring)

Topping and filling:
2 cups (500 ml) of whipping cream (about 30% fat)
½ cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (125 gm) sugar
Canned or fresh fruit (to fill and decorate the cake)

Directions For the Sponge Cake:
  • Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Prepare a square 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) pan or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan by greasing with butter and dusting with flour.
  • Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
  • Beat the egg whites on medium speed, 3 - 5 minutes.
  • When soft peaks form slowly add the sugar in small batches.
  • Whip until stiff peaks form about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  •  In a medium bowl beat egg yolks at medium-high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the egg yolks become pale colored, creamy and puffy. Stir in vanilla.
  • Pour the egg yolks over the egg whites, gently fold until just combined trying not to lose any volume from the mixture.
  • Fold in the flour little by little in the form of rain. Mix until just combined (over-beating will result in a denser, flatter cake).
  • Pour the batter into the prepared 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) square cake pan or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan.
  • Bake in the preheated moderate oven for 25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean
  • Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then let it cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cool, split the cake in half, flip the top of the cake and place it on a base. Using a fork, poke holes on the cake to help absorb the milk syrup.

In a saucepan add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream and cinnamon stick, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and continue boiling for 5 minutes. Remove it and let it cool.

Once it is cool, add the rum or any other flavoring you choose to use. I used Vanilla extract.

Gradually brush all the milk soaking liquid into all sides of the cake (including the cut surfaces) until all absorbed. I brushed the cake with the milk mixture and waited 5 minutes to let it absorb, then brushed it again. This ensured the cake soaked up the liquid well. 

Whip the cream with the sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread 1/3 of the cream on one half of the soaked cake. Spread evenly using an offset spatula. Top with your favorite fruit. I used canned, drained pineapple chunks and mandarin oranges.

Slowly transfer top half of soaked cake onto the bottom half, soak with remaining liquid if any. Use remaining cream to frost the entire cake with a spatula. Decorate the top with more fruit. 

Let chill overnight which allows the cake to soak up all the liquid well and also a chilled Tres Leches tastes far better than one that isn't! 

Delicious fruit on a super delicious cake.. I had no trouble finishing an extra large slice! Thanks to Inma, for giving me a chance to make this crowd pleasing dessert again. 

Egg Biryani with Cucumber & Onion Salad

I've always been a fan of eggs, in almost any form and I try to incorporate it in our daily diet to benefit from the protein factor in eggs. I've tried different variations of Egg curries and Egg biryanis. One such variation is what mom makes and something I had forgotten about completely until recently. Hubby doesn't like the smell of cooked/fried eggs so when he is around I usually make Egg Biryani with boiled eggs. It's when he is out of town and its just me and my little guy, out comes this flavorful recipe.

This recipe is different in the fact that the ingredients are simple, and the eggs are scrambled and cooked along with the rice in a pressure cooker. This allows each grain of rice to take on the nice 'eggy' flavour. At first look this may seem like its Egg Fried rice but wait until you've tasted it, I'm sure you will be licking your fingers as well as changing those thoughts. 

Egg Biryani:
You will need:

1 cup Long-grained Basmati Rice
4 Eggs
3 tbsp Oil
2 Bay leaves
4 Cloves
3 Whole Green Cardamom
1.5 " piece Cinnamon
6-8 Green chillies, slit (adj, to heat preference)
1 large Onion, thinly sliced
A handful of fresh Mint leaves, chopped
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp fresh Lemon juice
2 cups Water*
* Basmati Rice usually requires only 1.5 cups of water to a cup of Rice, but I prefer to add a little bit more to compensate for the water lost in steam so that the grains are well done and the rice remains moist.

Wash the Basmati Rice and soak in cold water for 15 minutes. 

Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add the Bay leaves, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Let the oil take on the flavors for a few seconds. Then add the slit green chillies and saute for 30 seconds. Now add the ginger garlic paste and saute until fragrant. Add the thinly sliced onions and saute until translucent. Meanwhile, crack the eggs in a clean small bowl. Using a fork, whisk to break the yolks. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and set aside. Once the onions are done, lower heat and then add the eggs. Scramble them using a wooden spoon. To this add the drained basmati rice and chopped mint leaves. Add water and season with salt to taste. Add the lemon juice and combine well. 

Turn up heat, cover the pressure cooker with a lid. Wait for the pressure to rise.When it begins to, place the weight on the lid, turn down heat to low and cook for 9-10 minutes. Once done, let the cooker cool slightly, fluff the rice with a fork and serve hot with a refreshing Cucumber & Onion salad. 

Cucumber & Onion Salad: 

Most Biryanis are made with a variety of spices and hence are usually served with a cool raitha which is yoghurt based. This Biryani doesn't have many spices and is mildly flavored and is paired best with a refreshing and fresh cucumber & onion salad.  

You will need:

1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
1/2 cup thinly chopped cucumber
2 green chillies, sliced at an angle
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp fresh Lemon Juice
1 tbsp Chopped cilantro

Combine all of the above in a small bowl and refrigerate for an hour. Serve with Egg Biryani. The lemon juice helps break down the onions a little and reduces the pungency. If you like the heat from the raw onions, reduce the quantity of lemon juice.

Grab that fork, what are you waiting for? :)

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