What's It All About—
This blog began as a side project when we opened Nook Eatery in 2009. In September 2012 we sold Nook, and sadly it now no longer exists. We have a new blog (see A Good Place to Gather). As always we remain inspired by the ingredients we use and the food we cook. This site remains purely as an archive of our three years at Nook Eatery and the recipes I created.
When we think of Mexican food desserts are probably the last thing we consider. Burritos, tacos and nachos with salsa are some of the things that first come to mind, but the truth is Mexican cooking includes desserts that are both simple and complex, like most other cultures. In fact, good Mexican desserts are so special that not many people outside of Mexico are familiar with them.
The first time I made pastel tres leches (or three milk cake) I had no idea it was Mexican. It was the idea of soaking a sponge cake with a combination of condensed milk, ideal milk and cream that really won me over! You can serve this cake topped with whipped cream, or you can make up some heavenly glossy marshmallow-like meringue. This cake is unbelievably moist from the syrup, which really makes it more of a dessert than a just a cake. It is rich so small portions are key, but only so you can go back for more.
recipe serves 10 people
- 6 large free range eggs, separated
- 2 cups castor sugar
- 2 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup full cream milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla pod
- 1 tin evaporated milk
- 1 tin sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup thick cream
*note: if you want to be seriously wicked, add some white rum to the soaking syrup
- 3 tablespoons water
- 200g granulated sugar
- 3 large free range egg whites
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Lightly grease a 30cm round cake tin and set aside (you could also bake this in a large oven safe pyrex dish).
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, and using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar with the mixer running, and beat until firm peaks form. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. Do this quickly as you do not want the batter to lose too much volume. Add the vanilla.
- Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
- Combine the evaporate milk, condensed milk and cream. While the cake is still warm pour the cream mixture over it, in about 2 to 3 batches. Let sit and cool to room temperate. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, for at least 4 hours or overnight. You may find that some syrup runs out of the cake (it is, after all, quite a bit of syrup we’re trying to squeeze into that cake). Simply spoon it up and pour over the cake to be re-absorbed.
- To make the meringue icing, combine the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over a high heat and cook until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (about 5 minutes cooking time). Meanwhile whisk the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer until soft peak are formed. While beating add the hot syrup in a stream. Beat until all the syrup has been added, the mixture cools, and a glossy icing is formed.
To assemble, remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread the icing evenly across the top and on the sides if you wish. You can serve this with a variety of accompaniments, such as a tart raspberry sauce, toasted almonds, coconut flakes or even some slices of fresh tropical fruit.