Raw, noun: 13. unrefined sugar, oil, etc.


Bundt Cake Saturday! (En espanol.)

Morning: sticky
Mood: pensive
Music: Mahler

Ready for a disaster story? I thought so.

Mi novio Juanito's birthday was toward the beginning of August, and so, naturally, I told him I'd bake him a cake to mark his cumpleanos. Juanito and me, well, we've been together going on five years now, though we do have an open relationship of sorts, so when he told me he wanted a Tres Leches cake, I had two thoughts: 1) what the hell, shit, I don't know what that even is; and 2) ok, cool, let's have a little adventure in honor of mi amor.

I procrastinated until that Saturday morning, when I rose bleary-eyed to do some intrepid Googling in search of a solution for my Tres Leches ignorance. Thank god/dess for the internet. What did we ever do without it? Juanito never had to know that until that morning I had no idea what the hell a Tres Leches cake was.

Basically, it's a traditional Latin American dessert, drenched in three types of milk (hence the name) and usually topped with strawberries and a whipped frosting. Totally do-able. I found a quickie version, hit up the grocery post-yoga, and went to work. This is what I came up with: a gringo-ized, slightly off-kilter, extra juicy

TRES LECHES BUNDT CAKE

Be forewarned. The forthcoming isn't pretty.

INGREDIENTS

1 18.25 oz. box white or yellow cake mix
1 package instant vanilla pudding
3 large eggs
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk (skim or regular)
1 cup whole milk or light cream

Pretty standard recipe, right? Until you get to the juicy milk part, that is. Er.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour your bundt pan. In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, pudding eggs, water, oil and vanilla until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cake from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk or light cream until well blended. Poke the cake all over with a skewer. Pour the milk mixture all over cake, pressing lightly to make sure the milk is completely absorbed. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.

Here's where it gets ugly. I was running late, so pulled the cake out of the fridge after only an hour. I then made the fatal mistake of inverting the bundt and dumping it out onto a wire cooling rack per usual. Bad idea. That sucker had been marinating in tres leches for an hour. It was soaked, wet, and wobbly as hell. As soon as I tried to move it to the serving tray, the whole thing fell apart in my hands in a wild ugly whoosh. Meanwhile, I should've been out the door ten minutes before.

What the hell was I gonna do?

But first, lesson learned: leave the cake in the (preferably 9x13) pan, let it soak in the tres leches, frost it there, top it with strawberries, and serve it by cutting pieces directly from the pan. Trying to make this thing work in a bundt pan was the ultimate novice error. But there I was with a mushy lump of a cake, and I'd promised mi Juanito a week before that I'd have his birthday cake that night; I had to find a way to salvage it.

So, I sliced what I could of the cake into thick pieces, arranged them in a somewhat circular shape on the platter, and dumped as much milky vanilla frosting on top as possible. I then spread a gratuitous amount of fresh strawberries on top of that, trying to mask all the ugly wobbly parts.

It wasn't pretty. I spent the rest of the evening apologizing. On the upside, the cake was extra moist and delicious, and in low lighting, not so ugly after all. My poor Juanito did his best to pretend the cake wasn't a vast disappointment, though I could see in his eyes that it was nothing like what his mama used to make. Which was perhaps all right, in the end.

Mil besos, amor.

Recipe cobbled together from those found here and here.

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