I am not a huge fan of overly sweet deserts. You know, the kind of deserts that make you feel like your insides will get stuck together, but this particular cake is an exception. It compensates for overly gooey goodness by being moist and light as air. “Tres leche” of course means “3 milks” and this particular desert is very popular in Latin America. It is very important to get the cake texture just right, as this cake should never be soggy, but moist goodness.
The cake needs time to soak through, at least 24 hrs, so plan accordingly; it is not something you can whip up last minute. In my opinion it is even better on the 2nd or 3rd day. As a matter of fact when I tasted it on the 2nd day I realized that I may have just stumbled upon a long lost recipe for my mother’s famous rum cake. I have searched for a just right batter for that cake for years, and this one may just be what I need. I will play with it and see if I can bring back to life that beloved family confection.
This recipe is based on Alton Brown’s Tres leche cake; however I modified it somewhat and added a butterscotch sauce to go with it. I suggest you make extra butterscotch sauce, as it was honestly, fingelicking good.
For the cake:
- 6 3/4 ounces cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 ounces sugar
- 5 whole eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the soaking liquid:
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup half-and-half
For the butterscotch sauce:
· 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
· ¼ cup water
· 2 tbs salted butter
· ¼ cup sour cream or crème Frasier
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9” by 13” cake pan. Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl, set aside
In the standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is pale yellow, fluffy and the sugar is fully incorporated. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times to make sure the mixing is even. Add eggs, one a time, until they are well incorporated. Add the vanilla. Decrease the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in thirds. Mix until just combined. Do not over-mix the batter.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula. It will seem like very little batter, but don’t worry it will expand somewhat while baking. Bake on the middle rack for 20-25 min or until the cake is golden yellow.
Cool the cake for 30 min on a cooling rack. With a fork, poke the top of the cake all over. Cool the cake completely.
Prepare the glaze by mixing the evaporated milk, condensed milk and half-n-half together. Pour the mixture over the cooled cake. It will seem like way too much liquid, but don’t worry, it will all be absorbed.
Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hrs.
Before serving, prepare the butterscotch sauce. In a heavy bottom pan, combine the sugar and water and stir with a wooden spoon to ensure even melting.
When the mixture is completely liquid, stop stirring and continue cooking on the medium heat. You can swirl the pan gently to ensure even browning. When the caramel is evenly brown and begins to smell nutty, reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter.
Once the butter is completely melted and incorporated, turn the heat off and whisk in the sour cream. Continue whisking off the heat until the sauce is smooth and stops bubbling. Let cool to room temperature before using. The sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, reheat gently in the double boiler if it becomes too thick.
To serve the Tres Leche cake, I like to layer 2 squares, with butterscotch sauce in between the layers and some on top.