Southern Tres Leches Cake with Fresh Fruit and Whipped Cream
It is my birthday week (I officially turned 34 on the 14th) so it seemed only fitting that I create a lovely, fabulous baked goody to post this week. Nasturtium, one of my favorite edible flowers, is growing in abundance in my garden now and I wanted to create a dessert that showcased their beauty. Edible flowers are often mild or spicy in flavor, so they become more about appearance than flavor in food. For more details on edible flowers check out this thorough listing here. Think you don’t have edible flowers? Don’t forget about Dandelions or Pansys (and other species of Viola) you can easily find in your yard or purchase in a pot at the store.
Tres Leches, meaning “three milks” in Spanish, is a traditional and popular cake in Latin America. I’ve created a South Eastern American twist on this cake by using Butter, Vegetable Shortening and Buttermilk – all traditional ingredients used prevalently in Southern baking. The results were luscious. Combined with some fresh Whipped Cream, Lemon Curd and fresh Fruit the dessert transformed into beautiful, cozy slices of cake heaven. I was afraid I’d have too much cake for my friends attending dinner that night, turned out I had too little!
With this cake, I’m certain you can never have enough. You can make a 9″ stack cake, cupcakes or mini-filled cakes. It is totally up to you – get creative and change up your fillings, too.
Yield: 2 Layer 9″ Round Cake, 24-30 Cupcakes or 3 Filled Mini Cakes (I used Wilton’s Round Filled Mini Cake Pan Set which has enough pans for two cakes and I used the extra batter for cupcakes.)
1/3 Cup Butter
1/3 Cup Vegetable Shortening
1 1/3 Cup Granulated White Sugar
3 Eggs, Separated
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1/4 Cup Nonfat or 1% Milk
1/8 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tsp Vanilla
FOR FILLING AND DECOR
1/4 Cup Lemon Curd (or other curd, fruit butter or jam)
1/4 Cup Fresh Pineapple, finely chopped
4 Strawberries, thinly sliced + extra for decoration and topping
Edible Flowers of Choice
FOR PERFECT WHIPPED CREAM
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar (or more as needed to reach desired consistency and flavor)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter your selected pans and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer thoroughly cream together Butter, Vegetable Shortening and Sugar on medium-high speed until light, creamy and fluffy. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add Egg Yolks to the creamy mixture, combining thoroughly and scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is mixed. (Keep Egg Whites in a small bowl to the side, you will need them later.) Beat the Egg Yolks into the mixture for 3-5 minutes total until it appears light in texture.
3. In a medium bowl, sift together Flour, Baking Powder and Salt.
4. In another medium bowl, combine Buttermilk, Nonfat Milk, Heavy Cream and Vanilla.
5. Alternately add dry Flour mixture and wet mixture to the creamy butter mixture in small batches, mixing until just combined for each addition. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.
6. In a separate bowl with an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they form a stiff peak. See image below for a view of how the egg whites should look.
7. With a rubber spatula, fold Egg Whites into the batter mixture. Fold gently, but be sure to combine completely. The batter will seem instantly lighter and more fluffy.
8. Once batter is complete, lightly handle the batter and pour into the prepared cake or cupcake pans.
9. Place pans in the oven and bake for about 20-35 minutes (depending on the pan size selected) until tops of cakes are a rich golden color (see below) and a knife inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean. Since you have multiple cakes baking, depending on your oven, some may need to come out of the oven before the others. Just don’t let any burn! If your oven tends to cook unevenly in spots you may want to rotate the pans halfway through the baking process.
10. Remove all cakes from oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen the cake from the pan edges with a butter knife and flip cake out onto a wire rack, plate or cutting board to cool completely.
11. In a small bowl combine Lemon Curd and Fresh Pineapple. Slice Strawberries but keep separate.
FOR WHIPPED CREAM:
12. In a medium bowl with an electric mixer (with a whisk attachment if available) beat 1 cup of Whipping Cream until foamy. Gradually add Powdered Sugar and continue to mix until soft peaks form in the cream. Add sugar until desired texture and taste is reached.
13. For mini filled cakes (like the one shown at the top of this post), scoop filling into the centers of both cake halves and press a layer of strawberries into filling (see below for a picture of filled cake halves). Cover the bottom layer with a thick layer of whipped cream and smoosh the second layer of filled cake on top. Decorate the top with Whipped Cream, Strawberries and Edible Flowers.
14. For Cupcakes and 9″ Round Stack Cake, layer Fruits, Filling, Whipped Cream and Edible Flowers at your whim. Get creative and have fun. You can also make the Buttercream Icing shown in this recipe. And don’t be afraid to add a little Honey and Lemon Curd to the icing – delicious! Enjoy!