It’s been much quieter than I want it to, here. Let’s delve in straight away, shall we? This cake was on my bake wish-list before I had started blogging. I discovered this delight of a dessert in an episode of Ultimate Recipe Showdown: Cakes one of the many afternoon I would spend watching Food Network. The recipe I saw was A Tres Leche Coconut Cupcake with Dulche de Leche Buttercream. I looked up this cake online and sifted through quite a few recipes. There were too many versions to choose from and I ended up bookmarking perhaps an entire folder of recipes.
So what is Pastel De Tres Leche? Popular in Latin America regions, it is an airily moist chiffon cake permeated with an emulsion of Tres, which is three, types of milk, traditionally – evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream. The sponge base is baked, cooled then pricked all over the surface to allow the liquids to soak. Finished off with whipping cream, you would think it would have a soggy texture. On the contrary, I found the texture quite like tiramisu. The scorching summer means we find ourselves at the peak of fresh mangoes. When I finally decided to bake it, I settled on a recipe that called for coconut milk as part of the mixture. For me, having mango and coconut as key ingredients in this recipe may have originated back in Latin America but thinking about the flavours reminds me of home. It couldn’t be more apt for a Malayalee palate.
The Keralite cuisine I grew up eating is lavish with the use of coconut. My favourite use of coconut is its milk. This can go up to three stages of extraction. The first stage is the milk extracted purely from the scraped flesh of the coconut. This milk is snow white, thick and the purest flavour of the coconut. The pulp that remains is then moistened with water to extract more milk. The quality of the milk decreases in density and flavour and becomes more transparent with each extraction. The first coconut milk tastes best poured over Appam (fermented rice pancake), Noolputtu (string hopper) and of course Pathiri (extremely thin rice flour flat-bread). If the meal consists of any three of the aforementioned breads, the first thing that is prepared is the coconut milk. I would go so far as to say that the bread was an accompaniment to the coconut milk. As a child, I would drown my Pathiri in the coconut milk and Umma would sprinkle it with a spoonful of sugar. That’s what struck me as the similarity to this recipe.
I love coconut milk, quite apparent here now. Possibly the hardest part is waiting for the cake to soak up the milk; preferably overnight. Yes, the process is elaborate but the combination of moistened milky cake with clouds of mango whipped cream is worth the wait. I’ve used two recipes to make this cake and as always you can find the links to them. Let’s get baking.
Pastel De Tres Leches
- 1 cup All-purpose Flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 5 whole Eggs
- 1 cup Sugar, Divided
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.
- Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- Separate eggs.
- Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla.
- Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
- In a clean, dry bowl beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form.
- With the mixer on, pour in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
- Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined.
- Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.
- When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times.
Before you whip the egg whites, make absolutely sure that the bowl and your beater is clean from fat. Even the tiniest amount of egg yolk can prevent the egg whites from whipping to the consistency that is required.
- 425 ml fresh extracted coconut milk OR 1 – 15oz can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/3 cup milk
- pinch of salt
- In a small saucepan, combine the three milks with the sauce and heat until the milk is steaming.
- Pour the milk mixture over the cake.
- Try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour, or preferably overnight.
Mango Whipped Cream Topping
- 2 cups ripe mango, cubed (about 3 large mangoes)
- 1 pint heavy cream
- In a blender or food processor, puree the mango. Add sugar by the tablespoon if necessary, based on how sweet the mangoes are.
- Just before serving, whip the heavy cream with half of the mango puree.
- Add sugar by the tablespoon if you think the whipped cream is not sweet enough.
- Beat until the whipped cream holds semi-firm peaks.
- Spread the mango whipped cream over the cake using a knife or spatula.
- Dollop on the remaining mango puree, then use a knife to cut swirls into a marbled pattern.
- You can also use any remaining puree as a sauce to serve alongside the cake.
I lightly sprinkled ground pistachios over my cake and this is optional.
I could not get myself to slice the cake before my guests arrived. There wasn’t much cake left after for me to photograph. Here are the results.
Have a good food day.