I'm a little worn out baking-wise. It seems to be birthday season amongst my friends and family so I have been pretty much baking non-stop for the last two weeks. I'm not complaining, I love baking birthday cakes for everyone. But now I'm very much looking forward to being able to go home after work today and not have to bake and cook dinner at the same time. Anyway this is a warning that there are lot of cake recipes this month, blame my people for all being born in the same month!
I'm particularly proud of this cake that I put together for my mother-in-law. She is a fan of sponge cakes with jam, strawberries and cream and Turkish delight. So I was trying to think of the best way to put all of her favourites things into a cake without it being overwhelming. One cake that I've always been fascinated with is the tres leches cake, but I've been a little scared to try it. Something about the idea of soaking a cake in three types of milk sounded risky. Would it be too rich? What if it went all soggy and fell apart? But a cake soaked in condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream sounded like something I would definitely want to eat.
So I bit the bullet and tried out Linda's beautiful layered recipe. I decided I wanted to keep it pretty simple, I was hesistant to mess around with the flavours too much. But since A's Mum loves Turkish delight I thought the combination of strawberry and rose would be beautiful for this cake without being too out there. I made a simple strawberry compote with a touch of rosewater mixed in to give it a little fragrance, but not too much because I know rose can be overwhelming. Rather than making one cake and cutting it into two, I split my mixture between two pans, which made it easier to soak the layers separately and then assemble the cake.
The sponge cakes soaked in three milks were sandwiched with a thin layer compote in the middle, covered in whipped cream and topped with fresh strawberry slices, cubes of Turkish delight and a few edible dried rose petals. I love how pretty it turned out! Unfortunately I can't show you a picture of the inside since it was the birthday cake, but you aren't missing out on too much. It was my first time eating tres leches cake and OH MY GOD that shizz is amazing! My first bite into that ridiculously soft cake, rich with the flavour of the milks but not the least bit soggy, my eyes went super wide and my brain went holyyy molyyy. It was love at first bite. And then I was kicking myself for not making this cake earlier. This layered version might not be anything like a traditional tres leches cake, but this type of cake worked great as an element of a layered cake. I loved it so much that I had to make another one (a more traditional sheet version with cream and fruit on top) with all my leftover milks just so I could eat more of it.
I served the cake with leftover compote and more fresh strawberries and it was definitely a winner. The strawberry and rose pairing were just right for this cake; tangy and fresh strawberries with the light fragrant rose flavours. My Mum-in-law also requested a batch of macarons to go along with the cake so I made some matching rose and strawberry macarons (I'll post the recipe for those next week).
In other random news, as well as being birthday season it also seems to be blog awards season! Last week I mentioned I was nominated for the Pedestrian Blogster awards (Vote for me please, it takes 5 seconds! If you're not sure what to do read this post.) I also happen to be nominated in Cosmopolitan Australia's Fun Fearless Female Awards in the blogger category. I probably don't stand a chance but it's nice to get a mention! If you have the time to send a vote my way here's the link: http://www.cosmopolitan.com.au/celebrity/fun-fearless-female-2013/finalist-voting/. (You have to register and then vote in all 8 categories for it to count.)
Strawberry & Rose Tres Leches Cake
(makes a 2-layer 18cm round cake, adapted from Eat Show & Tell)
For the cake:
1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
1&1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (225g) caster (superfine) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste)
1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup thickened (heavy) cream
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F, reduce by 10° if fan-forced). Grease and line two 18cm or 20cm (I used 18) round baking tin with baking paper. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Separate eggs. Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined. Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined, make sure there are no lumps. Pour equal amounts into prepared tins and spread to even out the surfaces. Bake for 20 to 35 minutes or until the centre of the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cakes out onto two rimmed plates and allow to cool.
Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface all over with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture; try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can. Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for at least 30 minutes.
For the strawberry compote:
500g (2 punnets) fresh or frozen strawberries
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice + 2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp rose water
2 tbsp lemon juice + 2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp rose water
Place strawberries, sugar and lemon juice and zest in a small saucepan on medium heat, stirring until it comes to a simmer. Continue to cook, stirring regularly for about 5-10 mins or until mixture thickens slightly and strawberries soften. Remove from heat and stir in rose water. Cool completely, can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about 2 weeks.
To assemble cake:
600ml thickened (heavy) cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
To decorate: extra fresh strawberries, sliced, rose-flavoured Turkish delight pieces, chopped, edible dried rose petals (optional)
Place cream and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat on high until soft peaks form (take care not to overmix). Carefully transfer one of the soaked cakes to your cake stand/plate. Cover with a thin layer of strawberry compote (too much will cause the compote to ooze out the sides of the cake). Sandwich second cake on top. Use a spatula to cover the entire cake in whipped cream and smooth. Sprinkle top of cake with strawberri slices, Turkish delight and rose petals, or any other decoration of your choice. Serve immediately with leftover strawberry compote or chill until ready to serve. Can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days.