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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Un pastel de tres denso

A few years ago on Victor's birthday, we bought a Tres Leches cake from a Cuban bakery in Burbank called Porto's (www.portosbakery.com). For those not familiar with Tres Leches, it's a light sponge cake soaked with a combination of 3 different milks: evaporated, condensed and whipping cream topped with either meringue or whipped cream. The cake is kept in the fridge, so it's a nice cold treat on a summer day.

When Victor's birthday was coming up this year, I decided to learn how to make the cake at home. The picture above is my first attempt...or my second. I am not sure as I made this cake twice this same weekend and it turned out exactly the same both times: extremely dense. I even went out and bought new baking powder before the second attempt thinking that my expired in 2006 baking powder just might be an issue...but no, it was the cook's technique which was letting the air out of the cakes! The recipe said to "mix" in the flour to this pretty wet egg/butter/vanilla mixture, so I thought using my electric mixer would be ok.  Turns out this method of combining the wet and dry ingredients seemed to over mix the batter and resulting in my incredible deflating cakes.

Here is a link to the recipe I used (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Tres-Leche-Milk-Cake/Detail.aspx). I am not posting the recipe since the key to making a successful sponge cake (based on my experience SINCE this cake), in addition to not over beating, is separating the eggs which this recipe does not do. Luckily, this was a practice cake prior to his actual birthday, so I didn't end up ruining his day with this science experiment gone wrong.

Victor and I did eat some of each cake despite the fact it was like slicing into marzipan. I never bothered to put the whip cream topping on it...the 3 milk mixture you pour over the top (to which I sprinkled in a little cinnamon) was so tasty that we basically used this "cake" as an excuse to eat the soaking mixture.

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