Anyone who knows me, knows I am super obsessed with watching Youtube videos. The other day during one of my “Youtube binge-watching” sessions, I came across this video about how to make a Tres Leches cake. Tres Leches cake is essentially a cake soaked in three different types of milk, resulting in a creamy and rich dessert. It is one of my favorite desserts to order at a good latin restaurant. It seemed like fate had lead me to that video. “Oh I have to try this out!” I thought to myself. So, here we are! My first ever “Recipe Redo”: Dessert Edition! Now, I have to start off with a HUGE disclaimer. I am no baker. In fact, my baking experience is limited to burnt Betty Crocker cake mix and watching ridiculous amounts of The Great British Bake-Off. With that being said, I am not a scaredy cat! So, I decided to take this challenge on with stride! Will I be a baking disaster or a baking master? It’s time to find out.
The recipe I followed is from a Youtube channel called “Jauja (pronounced: how-ha) Cocina Mexicana”. The word Jauja refers to something that is seen as a paradise or “heaven on earth” situation. Janet, the owner of the channel, tells her one million subscribers, that longing, laughter, and love are the most important ingredients in traditional Mexican food. In her opinion, they are the only ways to truly honor the culture. I decided to keep this in mind as I started my baking adventure. The ingredients are as follows: **(For batter) butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, milk, cream of tartar. (For leches) evaporated milk, condensed milk, half and half, a cinnamon stick, vanilla. (For frosting) Confectioner’s sugar and heavy cream. To make this more of a challenge for myself, I vowed to make the cake using only what I had on hand. I wasn’t too worried, since I usually have all these ingredients at my disposal.
I started to gather all my patience, the key ingredient in baking (atleast in my opinion), and the ingredients for the batter. After rummaging through my pantry for what felt like hours, I noticed I was missing a few things. A stick of butter, cream of tar tar, condensed milk, and half and half. Did this stop me? Oh no! I explored the internet to figure out how to make my own condensed milk. Fortunately, it came out just like the canned version, if not better! I tackled the case of “the missing stick of butter”, by using half a cup of Original Smart Balance butter. Eventhough the recipe called for five eggs, I only used two eggs and a prayer, because that was all I had in the fridge!
Once my ingredients were mixed properly, there was one more step before I could put it in the oven. And that was to whip the egg whites with the tartar or in my case some lemon juice. I decided to give myself less dishes to wash and settled for a regular whisk instead of a hand mixer. I took the lazy route (or so I thought). My arms have never got more of a workout than they did whipping those egg whites. It was brutal, I broke a sweat, and I may wake up tomorrow with an abnormally muscular right arm, but I figured it would all be worth it. Once the mix was all ready and in the oven, I proceeded to combine my milks for the “leches” portion. Replacing the half and half was a quick fix. I just used equal parts regular milk and heavy cream. Although the leches came out perfectly, I couldn’t help but worry about my cake. I am still haunted by the memories of my many failed attempts at baking a proper cake. I was worried this time would be no different. I tried to keep positive and focus as much as I could on making sure every other component tasted amazing.
The final step, was creating the whipped cream frosting. I let the whipping cream and sugar come together on low in my stand mixer. As this was happening, I was preparing dinner for my family and somehow forgot about my mix. “Oh no!” I gasped. My “whipped cream” was on the verge of becoming whipped butter! I frantically shut off the machine and noticed I used all of the whipping cream. In an attempt to save my frosting, I added in some of the left over leche. To my surprise, the flavor was great but the mix was quite runny. I spread it over the cake and used some fruit to cover up the not so picturesque portions. Honestly, she wasn’t the “Belle of the ball” looks wise, but she was pretty tasty! It tasted almost exactly like the tres leches I was used to! The only issue is that my cake came out way too dense, which is my fault for not following the exact recipe.
Unlike cooking, there is not much room for error in baking. It’s more scientific in that adding too much or too little of something, can completely change the texture of the final product. At the end of the day, I had fun and enjoyed the flavors of my cake. BUT i’ll probably stick to cooking in the future. Then again, I am always up for an adventure!
** For the full recipe and exact measurements: Checkout Janet’s Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW_plzrE2os