This Strawberry Tres Leche Cake is luscious, creamy, and bursting with fresh strawberries. It’s almost a religious experience. Almost…
Alright – Stop!
Not in the name of love.
Not because it’s Hammer Time.
But because I want you to stop, look, and listen. OK – You don’t really have to listen.
Just stop and look.
I baked this cake yesterday for Mr. M.O.B. He’s a year older and you have to commemorate these things. With cake. Before he gets too old to remember. And people – He’s getting there.
I have to admit – Baking cakes for him is truly satisfying.
Why? The man does love his cake. He’s like Cookie Monster; if Cookie Monster loved to eat cakes. He’s Cake Monster. Before we met I had never seen anyone eat that much cake. I used to watch in amazement as he’d polish an entire pound cake with nothing but a tall glass of milk.
This year he asked for two cakes – And seriously – How could I say no? One of his choices was this tres leche cake. Tres leche is a special kind of cake. It’s a sturdy cake soaked in three milks – Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream. It is luscious, it is creamy – And I took that situation a step further with a vanilla bean soaked milk mixture, and a macerated strawberry and whipped cream filling.
Usually tres leche cakes aren’t stacked because soaking a cake in a milk mixture makes that jammy pretty heavy. We’re celebrating a birthday. Birthday cakes are stacked. We’re stacking. If you want to make this stacked action happen – You’ll need a very sturdy cake to pull this situation off. Thankfully Fine Cooking has a very sturdy recipe which uses egg yolks folded egg whites and no butter. I modified the recipe to use two 8 inch rounds instead of one pyrex dish.
How do you make it?
Flow with me…
First you slice and macerate strawberries – Which is just sprinkling sugar over slices berries to bring out their delicious summer flavor. Cakes are baked and poked, soaking liquid is mixed, and whipped cream topping is whipped.
Then it’s just soak the cakes and fill as you would any other cake. I went sort of naked here, as tres leche cakes won’t dry out. To keep the cake from toppling I placed it in a springform pan with a rimmed platter underneath. You’re going to need the platter, because spring form pans don’t hold liquid puddles.
When you’re ready to serve, just remove the springform portion and leave the cake in the dish. This recipe seems kind of long, but I’m just being thorough. This recipe really comes together pretty quickly.
Now I know what you’re thinking – How does this taste?! Well… Let’s just say Mr. M.O.B. dove in with a spoon and didn’t come up for air until half the cake was gone. And he only gave up because otherwise we’d have to roll his ass to bed.
That’s a proper indicator, don’t you think?
Strawberry Tres Leche Cake
- For the macerated strawberries
- Strawberries - 1 1/2 pounds
- Granulated sugar - 2 tablespoons
- For the cake
- All-purpose flour, lightly spooned into measuring cup then leveled - 1 cup
- Baking powder - 1-1/2 teaspoon
- Kosher salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- Large eggs, separated at room temperature - 5
- Granulated sugar for the egg yolks - ¾ cup
- Whole milk - 1/3 cup
- Vanilla extract - 2 teaspoons
- Granulated sugar for the egg whites - ¼ cup
- For the soaking liquid
- Sweetened condensed milk - 1 14-oz. can
- Evaporated milk - 1 14-oz. can
- Heavy cream - 1/2 cup
- Vanilla bean paste - 2 teaspoons
- Kosher salt - Large pinch
- Whipped topping
- Heavy cream - 2-1/2 cups
- Vanilla extract - 1 ½ teaspoons
- Confectioners’ sugar - 5-6 tablespoons
Macerate the strawberries:
Hull and slice each strawberry vertically. Place sliced strawberries in a large bowl. Pour sugar over the strawberries and mix with a spoon until sugar dissolves. Place in the refrigerator until the strawberries soften and you are ready to use them.
Bake the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and position a rack in the center of the oven.
Spray the bottom and sides of two 8 inch pans with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray. Set aside. Place an 8 inch spring form pan over a large rimmed platter and also set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Separate the yolks from the whites. Set the whites aside momentarily in a small bowl.
To a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (you can use a hand mixer), beat the egg yolks with ¾ cup of sugar on medium/high speed until the yolks are thick, creamy, and pale – About 2 minutes or so. Lower the speed to medium. Add the milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined, about 1 more minute. Transfer the egg yolk mixture to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Clean and dry the whisk attachment and mixer bowl. Add the egg whites to the bowl and whisk the egg whites, over medium/high speed until it forms soft peaks, about 2-3 minutes. Increase the speed to high and add the ¼ cup of sugar in a stream. Whisk on high until the egg whites form firm peaks, about 1-2 more minutes.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture into the egg yolks and fold with a rubber spatula until combined. Gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites until no white streaks remain. Alternate between the flour mixture and the egg whites in two more batches until incorporated. Make sure no flour or egg white streaks remain, but don’t overbeat the mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bang the pans on the counter a couple of times to even out the batter. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.
Remove pans from the oven and allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 7 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack, remove the parchment paper, and allow to cool completely. Once the cakes are cooled, poke holes on the entire surface of the cakes with the tines of a fork. Don’t be shy about poking. Just when you think you can’t poke anymore holes, poke a few more. While the cakes cool, prepare the soaking liquid.
Prepare the soaking liquid:
In a large bowl, combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, vanilla bean paste, and kosher salt. Whisk vigorously until combined and pour into a 4-cup measuring cup. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Filling and topping:
In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, pour about 1/3 of the heavy cream and mix over medium/high speed until thickened. Add another third of the heavy cream and also mix until thickened. Add the rest of the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Beat until thickened and forms medium peaks.
Reduce the speed to low and add the confectioners’ sugar. Beat on low until combined then increase the speed to high and beat until firm peaks form. Remove the heavy cream from the mixer, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble the cake:
Place one of the poked cakes in the prepared springform pan. Slowly pour half of the soaking liquid, starting at the edges, pausing to allow the liquid to soak into the cake before adding more liquid. A turkey baster (a new one) works very well for this.
Remove the macerated strawberries and filling from the refrigerator. Spread half of the whipped cream filling onto the soaked cake with an offset spatula. Place half the macerated strawberries on top of the filling, making sure to cover the surface of the cake.
Place the second cake on top of the filling. Slowly pour the rest of the soaking liquid, once again starting at the edges and pausing to allow the liquid to soak into the cake before adding more liquid. Top the cake with rest of whipped cream filling and strawberries.
Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the cake is well chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours. Remove the cake from the spring form pan. Slice and enjoy.
Servings: About 10