We Made a Cinco Leches Cake Because Tres Leches Just Wasn’t Enough
A few years ago, I was making a tres leches cake for my birthday party (yes I make my own birthday cake). As I was mixing the “leches”—sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream—I tasted it. It was delicious but it was also predictable, and dare I say it, a bit basic. But it was 1:00 a.m. the night before my party and I needed to finish that cake. What could I do to give it an edge? I opened the cabinets, searched the fridge for that silver bullet, that one thing that will put it over the top. And there it was. A can of coconut milk. And all of a sudden, tres became cuatro, my guests were spared a basic cake, and I was a hero.
I’ve always wanted to recreate it for Bon Appétit. So I told fellow senior food editor Chris Morocco what I was planning. He said, “Oh, just four milks? Way to play it safe, Rick.”
With that kind of shade, I couldn’t stop at “just four milks.” I thought about using buttermilk, goat’s milk, nut milks, hemp… you get the picture. But does anyone really want to buy a carton of “alt milk” for a cake? Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t used plain old, whole cow’s milk, which happens to be a great dough conditioner. That’s a fancy way of saying that adding milk to your doughs and batters will make whatever you’re baking more tender. And who doesn’t love a tender cake?
I added the fifth milk just in time for Cinco de Mayo, get it? Cinco Leches!
And for a little added tropical flare, I added Mexican cinnamon, and orange and lime zest so that first bite will give you a little hit of piña colada, without the rum. But you know, if you really want to take it there, throw in a couple of tablespoons of your favorite rum into the “leches” before you pour it over the cake—and call it seis leches…
¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
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