The Mystery of Tres Leches Cake

Most people in these Oregon parts have not heard of Tres Leches Cake.  In other regions, it’s all the rage; showing up in donuts, cupcakes, and even coffee.  A friend of mine said “There aren’t any good Tres Leches cakes around here.”  Is that a challenge, you say?  Are you tempting me to to find a delicious recipe to court southern Oregon?  I accept the challenge!

The first thing discovered which might be the reason finding a good cake is so hard is because no one agrees on a recipe.  And not only do they differ, they are nothing alike.  They go from a regular scratch cake to a souffle style with whipped egg whites.  Even a box yellow cake drenched in milk showed up on a few searches.  This left the possibilities open to create something with my own twist.  If it were only that easy.

I started with the Alton Brown cake recipe.  The cake baked denser than I anticipated.  I guess that’s what it needs to be to soak up all the milk.  I’m not really sure since I haven’t tasted many of this mysterious cake.

The one thing most recipes had in common was the shape.  They all baked it in the 9×13 baking dish.  This reminds me of PTA cake walk instead of something pretty.  I disagreed with the masses and chose a round cake shape instead.  Since there was comments in Alton’s recipe about the bottom of the cake not getting soaked, I cut into the four layers for soaking.

My friend with experience in consuming Tres Leches cakes said she liked custard in the middle with fresh fruit.  I decided to fluff up the custard by adding whipped cream to it.  I realized when I put the cake together I made the custard too soft when I lightened it with the cream.  If you want my advice, keep the custard thick.  I also wanted to keep my fruit separate.  The layers were blueberry, strawberry, and blackberry.  I’d stick with doing this again.  The layers would be supported better with the thicker custard.

In the end it looked like this:

tres leches

The slice:

slice

I had a couple people taste it and they liked the flavor.  I was not in love with it.  Don’t get me wrong, the outside was pretty enough but the cake seemed too dense.  While the tasters and I debated its merits, I came to realize I need to do more research.  Tasting research.  To solve the mystery of Tres Leches, I need to figure out what the ideal is first.  The mystery continues…

If you’ve had a great Tres Leches, please let me know about it in the comment section.  Where was it?  What made it so good?

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