Insanely sweet – Tres leches and strawberry cake

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This post contains what I’m just going to go ahead and without any research or authority on the subject, call Mexico’s favorite cake. While it’s not strictly Mexican (I know it’s also out there in other latin american countries, also probably a favorite) it is an incredibly  mexican flavor for me, because it’s one of those things that you eat in traditional restaurants, in pueblitos, or at your grandmother’s house when your family gets together. And I’m not singing its praises just because its traditional… oh no. Not in the slightest. How could I not talk up the spongiest of sponge cakes that’s thoroughly imbibed in all the variants of sweet milks out there? Because that’s exactly what this cake is, tres leches, meaning three milks. Condensed milk? Yes please. Evaporated milk? Yes please. Table cream? Um, also yes. Top it all with chantilly? Too much cream you say? No. That is absolutely impossible! Especially if you have bits of fresh strawberries all over. Trust me on this, it sounds insanely sweet, but what did you think the first time someone told you to dip your oreos in peanut butter? Aha. Thought so.
This cake is the kind of cake you don’t eat as often you’d like… because it takes a bit of work. But the texture, and flavor, and insanely sweet goodness are absolutely worth it.  Note: The pictures here are for three-layered mini cakes, because I’m crazy like that, but the recipe is for a regular, two layer cake. (Trust me, you’ll want to go for the easier one-cake bit unless you’re insane like me).
Read more for the recipe.

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Tres leches cake, or mini cakes.

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
6 eggs, separated yolks and whites
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 can condended milk
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 cup milk
1 can table cream*
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup strawberries, diced
Extra strawberries for decorating.

Chantilly cream:

1lt whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp powdered sugar, or to taste.

Table cream is what we call “media crema”. The one I know is from Nestle. I think you can also substitute with Carnation’s thick cream.
In case you’ve no clue what I’m going on about, here’s a link:
http://www.walgreens.com/store/c/nestle-table-cream/ID=prod6068018-product

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400ºF

Grease and line a 9 in round cake mold.

-Make the sponge cake
Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, separately, beat together the yolks and sugar. Add the flour and baking powder, beat well, add the milk and vanilla. Fold the egg whites in gently, using a rubber spatula. Transfer to the mold and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and the center of the cake is springy to the touch. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

-Imbibe
In a bowl mix together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and table cream. Whisk vigourously.
Using a finely serrated knife, level the top of the cake, removing as little as possible. Then, slice the cake in half, so you end up with two cakes. (A little tip: I like to first trace firmly with the knife all around the circle, to make an even opening exactly halfway, that way when you cut across the knife will fall into the “path” you cut around first. Here is a video because my explanation wasn’t all that good.)
Poke both cakes with a toothpick, and using a pastry brush, imbibe it with the milk and cream mixture. Do this on both sides, on both cakes, two times.  (Or more is you still have milk cream mixture left). The sponges should be soaked through and through, no dry spots left. Set aside.

– Mount the cake:
Preapare the chantilly cream by whipping the cream on high speed for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and sugar, and continue beating until peaks form and the whisk holds.
Place the first sponge on a carton circle for cakes. With a metal spatula, add  a very thin layer of whipped cream, then place on top the diced strawberries and spread them out evenly. Top with the second sponge cake. Again, with a small metal spatula, add a very thin layer all around and on top of the cake, masking it. (as if you were super super thin frosting it).
Using a piping bag and a star tip, pipe whipped cream stars all around the cake, working your way up form the bottom in circles. When you reach the top, leave a small circle in the center, which you can then fill with diced, sliced, or whole strawberries. Top with a sprig of mint leaves.

 

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