A tres leches cake should be pretty easy to make, right? A sponge drizzled with three kinds of milk (tres leches) and left in the fridge to absorb them and become a deliciously moist treat! Hmm, will tell you about the ‘issues’ later! My dream was to create a healthier hybrid tres-leches-come-lime-drizzle cake with a little citrus zing to it. Then things got out of hand and the cake just went tropical: a piña colada cake with lime! After some testing, tweaking and hair tearing in the kitchen lab, tada! You too can experience the lovely exotic flavours of a Coconut, lime, pineapple and rum tres leches cake, with ‘lighter’ milks: coconut cream, almond milk and oatmilk! Go ahead and try some while I collapse quietly in a happy heap in the corner! 🙂
And to get into the mood you can watch Rupert Holmes sing Escape, his classic Piña colada song: I like piña colada and getting caught in the rain, I’m not much into health food, I am into champagne! Ah the 70s, cheesy videos and dancing ladies! 🙂
Issues with a tres leches cake!Yes, issues! I have this strange attachment to making multi-layered French cakes and can spend hours playing with puff pastry but have so much trouble baking a decent cupcake, simple sponge cake or … yes, a tres leches cake!
I was obsessed with trying to achieve Chef Ruben’s amazingly airy tres leches sponge. That was my first mistake: the finer the sponge, the worse my tres leches cake got! I had hit upon using a recipe where the egg whites are super stiff beaten with sugar then the rest folded in. Then I discovered this fine sponge didn’t soak in the milks very well, staying disappointingly dry. The ‘genoise’ technique plus baking powder also meant an excessive super-soufflé style rise! So I eliminated the baking powder and used granulated sugar to create a flatter sponge with pores that would welcome in the milks! Come in my little milks! (that’s the new unimproved sponge speaking). Ironically I made the sponge less fluffy and light.I also had to work on balancing out the strong taste of coconut cream, so put less in and more lime juice. Then the first ‘tropical’ prototype lacked warmth so next time I added a few tablespoons of rum. Yo ho ho! And yum yum yum! 🙂
Will explain how I ended up with a ‘naked’ cake later. After which of course I had to work on a topping. I tell you, I need a nice little break with some French patisserie after this challenge! But it worked out in the end! 🙂
DAY ONE – bake and soak cake. Make the pineapple flowers (optional)
- Butter and flour your 20cm (8inch) round cake tin with a loose removable base (springform).
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (static, non-convection oven) or 160°C (fan-assisted oven) – bake 30 to 40 minutes.
- 4 medium-sized egg whites (about 140-145g)
- 125g/a half cup plus 1 and a half tbsp granulated sugar
- 4 medium-sized egg yolks – beaten
- a quarter to half teaspoon pure vanilla essence (optional)
- 125g/1 cup good-quality cake flour or plain/all-purpose flour
- a pinch of salt
Lime drizzle syrup
- 50g/2 generous tablespoons honey
- 40g/3 tbsp water
- 80g/5 to 6 tbsp lime juice (about 2 or 3 limes)
- 100g/6 tbsp coconut cream
- 165g/three quarters of a cup oatmilk
- 165g/three quarters of a cup almond milk
- 2 tablespoons dark rum or more, to taste!
Topping (optional): 1 avocado, 4 tablespoons coconut cream, juice and zest of 1 lime OR
For an alternative white topping: 60 to 70g quark (or 3 to 4 tablespoons), juice and zest of 1 lime and three quarters tablespoon maple syrup or more, to taste. Add a few tablespoons coconut cream, to taste.
Decoration (optional): 1 pineapple and about 4 or 5 glacé cherries cut in half
- Whisk the egg whites till almost firm, by hand or on a stand mixer.
- Gradually whisk in the sugar till you have a very firm meringue. By hand you’ll need more time to whisk.
- Fold in the egg yolks, gently with figure of eight movements and a rubber spatula or metal spoon with holes. Add the vanilla essence if using and lime zest.
- Fold in the sifted flour (whisked with the salt to combine) in two goes or little by little. Don’t overwork.
- Fold in the lime juice.
- When just combined pour gently into your cake mould.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes (don’t open the oven for the first 30 minutes). The cake is ready when an inserted skewer comes out clean and when the top springs back a little when it’s pressed lightly with a finger.Lime drizzle syrup and three milks mixture
- While your cake is baking bring the water and honey to a boil.
- Add the lime juice and boil one more minute.
- Pour into a bowl and leave to cool.
- Whisk together the coconut cream, almond milk and oatmilk then add the lime juice and rum.
- Place the bowl in the fridge till required.
Soaking the sponge!
- After the cake has cooled 10 minutes make holes all over the cake with a skewer or cake tester. Apparently, the more holes the better. So to make sure I didn’t get a dry cake I got quite carried away.
- Put the cake and wire rack over a tray or big dish to catch any milk, then pour or spoon the milk and lime mixture slowly over the cake.
- Wait for the liquid to soak through, and open up the cake tin at the side to loosen and allow the liquid down into the tray below.
- Pour the liquid from the tray below into a big bowl and then pour it again over the cake.
- Repeat the process one more time (three or four times in total).
- There should be less liquid going through now. But I took the bottom of the tin off the cake and found it still felt dry, so I poured a little liquid over the bottom too!
- This is how I ended up with a ‘naked’ top, because when I turned it back around, a lot of it had stuck on the wire rack. Oops. That’s when I decided to do a topping!
- Leave the cake in airtight tupperware in the fridge overnight (or a minimum of four hours).
- If making a topping, use three quarters of a pineapple to make dried pineapple flowers for decoration (recipe at Angie’s Fiesta Friday blog). Keep a quarter to chop up and sprinkle on top of the cake.
- Whisk together your ingredients to make either the Avocado or White topping. Pass through a sieve if slightly lumpy. Store in the fridge to firm up till the next day.
Once your tres leches cake has soaked overnight
1. Spread the avocado coconut cream or white topping over the cake. 2. Artistically place the chopped pineapple you prepared the previous day.3. Add the pineapple flowers and some half cherries to brighten up the cake!Finally, check whether your tres leches cake is nice and moist like it should be!! And bring it to our tres leches cake challenge where you’ll see such a beautiful array of diverse tres leches cakes! 🙂 Or even to party at Fiesta Friday hosted by the indefatiguable Angie@thenovice gardener with her co-hosts Justine @ Eclectic odds n sods and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook. Then if you love this cocktail combo, check out Kitchen Spell’s recipe for piña colada cupcakes!As I gaze at my colourful photos I do realise this might be the tackiest cake I’ve ever made, and I do wonder whether it needs more tweaking but I’m quite proud of it! 🙂 It’s quite in keeping with the song and you can almost imagine you’re lying on a beach with your piña colada as you bite into this light and moist Coconut, lime, pineapple and rum tres leches cake! Feel that sunkissed breeze.
Hope you’ve enjoyed our little outing to the land of cocktails sweet reader. Happy baking, eating and moving to a tropical beat! May you have a lovely week and weekend in a paradise of your own making! 🙂 x
P.S. Avocado or white topping next time? Hmm… Actually I think I might go for a more classic cake which involves cream!!! I have loads of recipes to choose from now, with all the delicious entries to the Tres Leches challenge here. 🙂