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You Asked For It: a recipe for tres leches cake

I would like a tres leches cake recipe like the one at Ceviche restaurant. Thank you.

Pat Gorman, St. Pete Beach

Donna Maldonado of Palm Harbor shares a tres leches cake recipe similar to Ceviche's. This version has a meringue topping like the restaurant's. There are a few things that must be noted. The cake doesn't rise much, so don't be surprised. Also, there's a fair amount of work involved so set aside some time.

My cake stuck to the pan and I was able to gently ease it out by running a knife around the edge and using an offset spatula. Next time I will either use more butter or a cooking spray. The cake is tender so use a skewer rather than a fork to pierce the cake before pouring the liquids over it.

Rather than pour the milk syrup over the cake, I used a ladle. I had better control with the ladle, which allowed me to distribute the syrup more evenly. I put the cake in a jelly roll pan, as suggested in the recipe, and then spooned the excess back over the cake. I also poured the syrup in stages allowing some of it to soak in before adding more.

The meringue was very easy to make. You will need a candy thermometer for the sugar syrup. Be very careful when pouring the syrup since it's hot and may splash with the beater running. The mixture stayed warm for longer than I expected and I ended up beating it for an additional 8 or 9 minutes. I just felt the mixing bowl to know when it was cool. The meringue was glossy and beautiful, surprising for the humid days we've had. It makes a lot so you can pile it on high if you want. You'll need a metal bowl for the meringue; it won't come together in a plastic bowl.

Room temperature egg whites will whip up faster than cold ones. Make sure all your utensils are clean, grease-free and completely dry before whipping the egg whites.

While most recipes made with meringue should be eaten the same day, this one should be okay in the refrigerator for a day. I would not make it in advance though.

Recipe request

Jamal Tomlinson of St. Petersburg would like a recipe for honey-baked bread like they serve at Cody's Roadhouse.

Recipes are tested by Times correspondent Ellen Folkman unless otherwise noted. Send requests to You Asked For It, P.O. Box 1159, Crystal Beach, FL 34681 or email youaskedforit@tampabay.rr.com. Include your name, city and phone number.

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Tres Leches Cake

For the cake:

1 cup sugar, divided

5 large eggs, separated

cup milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the milk syrup:

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 cup heavy (or whipping) cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon light rum

For the meringue:

1 cup sugar, divided

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 13- by

9-inch baking dish.

Make the cake: Beat ¾ cup sugar and the egg yolks until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Fold in the milk, vanilla, flour and baking powder.

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, adding the cream of tartar after 20 seconds. Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossy and firm, but not dry. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Pour this batter into the buttered baking dish.

Bake the cake until it feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, which should be about 40 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack. Unmold onto a large, deep platter or jelly roll pan. Pierce the cake all over with a fork, taking care to not tear it up.

Make the milk syrup: Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream, vanilla and rum in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well blended. Pour the syrup over the cake, spooning the overflow back on top, until it is all absorbed.

Make the meringue: Place ¾ cup and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a heavy saucepan with ¼ cup water. Cover and cook over high heat for 2 minutes. Uncover pan and cook the sugar to the soft ball stage, about 239 degrees, which should be about 6 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile beat the egg whites to soft peaks with the cream of tartar. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating to stiff peaks. Pour the boiling sugar syrup in a thin stream into the stiff egg whites and continue beating until the mixture is cool to the touch. The hot syrup "cooks" the egg whites.

Using a wet spatula, spread the top and sides of the cake with a thick layer of the meringue. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serves 8 to 10.

Source: Donna Maldonado of Palm Harbor

You Asked For It: a recipe for tres leches cake 08/21/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 4:30am]

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