Friday, March 27, 2009

Lower-fat Tres Leches Cake for VGABS - the recipe

tres leches2 001

I'm thrilled to be a participant in the first Virtual Great American Bake Sale (VGABS) featuring ebook compilations of recipes from submitters across the blogosphere and beyond. Thank you to Kate Miller of for organizing this incredible fundraiser.

100% of the proceeds from the sale of these ebooks will go toward Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale program. Funds raised through Great American Bake Sale are donated to after-school and summer feeding programs--food programs that many kids depend on when school is not in session. Great American Bake Sale is a program of Share Our Strength, a national organization working to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry.The ebooks are a compilation of recipes from submitters across the blogosphere and beyond. The ebooks are available for purchase based on any donation amount of the buyer's choosing. For all of the details on the sale of these ebooks, please see my previous post at: http:/

Tres Leches Cake is a homey dessert, usually served directly from a decorative baking dish. I wanted a more elegant presentation, to serve at a golf event and then at the engagement party of our dear friends' children, Melissa and Travis Klingberg so, I unmolded the cake and then iced it all around. It was elegant, super moist and very, very rich. For this reason I thought it would be worth a try to develop a lower fat version - one that would be equally satisfying but less caloric. The first low-fat version, pictured above, was made during a private class for Katie Hicks and her daughters, who won me at an auction to benefit Susan G. Komen For the Cure™. I liked the lower fat version so much that it has become my standard Tres Leches Cake, and almost all who try it actually prefer it. My recipe has never been in print before, and I'm proud to offer it for yet another very important non-profit organization, Share Our Strength. What could be more important than supporting those who strive to eradicate childhood hunger.

Milk Spongecake
2 cups (200grams) sifted cake flour
1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

6 large eggs, separated (room temp)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1-1/3 cups sugar+2 tablespoons, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup skim milk, room temperature

Milk Syrup
14-ounce can (1-1/4 cups) fat-free sweetened condensed milk
2-1/2 cups fat-free half and half ( do NOT use fat-free evaporated milk!)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Low-fat Whipped Cream ( or regular whipped cream or whipped topping can be used)
2 large pasteurized egg whites, room temperature (directions for using regular eggs follow)
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 packet Dr. Oetker™ Whipit stabilizer (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. with a shelf in the middle of the oven. Grease the bottom of a 9x12-inch baking pan (do not use nonstick). Place parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, only if you plan to unmold the cake.

In a small bowl, sift or stir together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large mixer bowl, beat together the egg yolks, 1-1/3 cups sugar and the vanilla, on medium speed, until a ribbon forms, about 2-4 minutes.

Slowly beat in the skim milk. Add the flour a little at a time, beating on low speed until well blended.

In a clean, greaseless bowl with clean, greaseless beaters (use the balloon whisk beater, if you have one), beat the egg whites until very foamy. Add the cream of tartar and the remaining sugar (1 tablespoon), and beat until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. The eggs should still slip a little in the bowl if you tilt it. Stir 2 cups of whites into the batter, and then fold in the remainder. Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick tests clean, lowering the heat to 325 if the top starts to overbrown. Run a knife around the edges of the cake and then let it cool completely, in the pan. The top will have formed a wrinkly and fairly loose brown skin.

The skin should be loose enough to lift off. If not, use a knife to scrape it off of the rest of the cake. This will expose the soft and holey interior that will readily accept the milk syrup.

For the milk syrup, combine the sweetened condensed milk, fat-free cream and heavy cream in a measuring cup or pitcher. The amount of syrup to use is a matter of personal taste. If you use all of the syrup, the cake will have maximum saturation and some of the syrup will remain in the pan. The cake will be heavy with moisture (it's yummy this way, but not everyone's favorite). If you use 3 to 3-1/2 cups of the syrup, the cake will be lighter, but will also be drier. You'll have to try it and see which you prefer. If any syrup is not used, it can be reserved for sauce. Cover the cake with foil and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours.

For the topping, you can use whipped cream with some powdered sugar and vanilla whipped in (obviously this is a higher fat choice) or to make the lower fat whippped cream, place the pasteurized egg whites in a clean, greaseless mixer bowl and beat the egg whites until foamy throughout. Add the sugar and cream of tartar and beat until they are very stiff.

If using regular egg whites, fill the bottom of a double boiler with 2 inches of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium high. Place the egg whites in a greasefree metal bowl (preferably with a handle). The top of the double boiler can be used, but it is not ideal because egg can get stuck on the interior ledge and may overcook. Using a wire whisk, gradually whisk the sugar, 2 teaspoons water and cream of tartar into the egg whites. Holding excess cord taut, place the bowl over the boiling water and beat with a portable electric mixer on medium speed for 3 MINUTES. Increase the speed to high, and continue to beat for 4 MINUTES. The timing is important, because salmonella bacteria will be killed if cooked at 140 degrees F. (it takes about 3 minutes to get the eggs up to 140oF). Keep the beaters moving constantly around the bowl so that the egg does not overcook.

Remove the bowl from the heat and beat the egg whites until they are very stiff and cool, about 10 minutes. You can speed things up by wrapping ice cubes in a towel and placing them under the bowl so that the bowl is nestled in the cold towel

To continue with the recipe, in another medium bowl, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar, vanilla and stabilizer together until the mixture just forms firm peaks (don't overbeat). Fold in the beaten egg whites (meringue).

Spread or pipe the mixture over the top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve and then cut the cake into squares.

This cake is so moist that it will keep for several days in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.

When separating eggs, make sure that NO yolk gets into the whites, or they won't whip properly. Clean bowls and beaters thoroughly, and then wipe them down with vinegar to further get rid of any grease. Separate each egg into a container and then if all has gone well, transfer the yolk and whites to their respective bowls.
Dr. Oetker Whipit is optional. It allows you to make the cake ahead of time without the cream "weeping". Find it in the baking section of the grocery store.


For a more formal presentation, like the cake in the opening photo, you can unmold the soaked cake and then pipe the whipped cream all over it. To unmold, place a piece of waxed paper over the cake and then a cookie sheet or board. Invert the two together so that the cake is now upside down and out of the pan.

Rclip_image007e-invert the cake, either onto a cake board (if you want to decorate the cake and then move it to the serving platter) or directly onto the serving platter. If inverting onto a serving platter directly, you will need to protect the platter from getting messy as you frost the cake.

To do this, place strips of waxed paper on the outer inch of the cake perimeter. Now place the platter on top of the cake.


Invert the whole thing and you'll be ready to decorate.


After the cake is decorated, slide the waxed paper out from under the cake.


To donate, see my post for details:

or http//

No comments: