Happy birthday to me! Well, on Friday anyway. As promised, I did in fact take photos of my birthday tres leches cake! I got teased (a lot!) for making my own birthday cake, but you know what? I’m totally happy that I did, because I got the exact cake that I wanted. It came out SO YUMMY.
I used Alton Brown’s Tres Leche cake recipe almost word for word – the only thing I did different was add a little bit of spice to it, because I remember all my cakes growing up having some. I added 1 tsp of cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp of nutmeg. It was amazing, but I think next time I’ll use a little less.. maybe 3/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. The spice wasn’t overpowering, but it wasn’t as subtle as I wanted it to be.
My favorite thing about his recipe is that it measures the flour and the sugar by weight. With a tres leches cake, this is EXTREMELY important. It’s also important to use cake flour and not all purpose. The trick to a good tres leche cake is the texture. If your base cake isn’t exactly right, you will ruin it when you add the milk mixture. Tres leche cake should be moist, but it should never be soggy.
It was amazing to watch this cake grow. When I first poured the batter into my baking pan, it barely took up 1/4th the height of the pan. By the time the cake was done baking, soaking, and being topped, it filled almost the whole thing. Making the topping was a little painful, as it takes a WHILE to get stiff peaks, even when you start with whipping cream. I, as of yet, do not have a stand mixer and had to do it with a handheld one.
BUT! This was one of the highlights of my birthday. Tangent time! So there I was, standing in the Kitchen Kaboodle fondling the Kitchen Aide mixer that I’ve been coveting for months now, and lamenting the fact that I couldn’t afford one. Pod was off somewhere else buying me a mini food-processor (which I totally love and have already used twice, but it’s no stand mixer…) while I pouted. I was trying to figure out if I could rearrange funds to cover one, but decided against it cause that can only lead to trouble.
Then when I got home, and checked my email… there was an announcement that I had won the mixer in a sweepstake! I had entered one last week online, and I won!!! I was shocked and amazed and totally excited. I never win anything, so to win this mixer in an amazing shade of green totally made my entire month! It should be here sometime next week and I cannot WAIT!
Ok, back to the cake. The red topping is a raspberry/blackberry/nectarine compote that I improvised as an excuse to use my new food processor. I boiled a handful of raspberries and blackberries with a little water and some sugar to get the base syrup. I had too much liquid so I drained some out (which found a new home on top of some vanilla ice cream… yum!) and then put the rest in the food processor with the rest of my berries and some diced nectarine. I processed to desired consistency, and viola, fruit topping!
The flavors all went together amazingly well, and everybody that helped eat my cake loved it. I ate way more of it than I should have, but what good is having a birthday if you can’t eat your cake?! :)