Imagine me, alone in my kitchen at half past eight on a Friday night with the girls coming over for lunch the next day.
And there was nothing on the menu for dessert. Nothing. For. Dessert.
(Ok, so there were the cookies I’d made earlier and a couple of punnets of cherries, but please. That was not going to do. Especially for an Argentinian barbecue themed Christmas feast.)
About then I remembered that something about a Latin American cake. Moist and soaked in all sorts of milky goodness.
Tres Leches Cake.
I followed (well, mostly followed – this girl is not good with rules) a recipe from Martha Stewart and in almost no time at all had two layers of dairy soaked goodness resting on my stovetop whilst the smell of ribs filled the kitchen.
To be honest, my immediate thoughts went along the lines of:
“Now-I’m-going-to-stack-and-cover-these-babies-in-whipped-cream-and-all-will-be-right-with-the-world-and-is-it-time-for-bed-yet? Please say it is. Oh no I have to wait up for the ribs. What to do? What to doooooo?”
So I sniffed the cake.
And I looked through the pantry.
And then I grabbed my big silver mixing bowl, a heap of glad wrap and the ingredients for my trusty two-ingredient ice-cream.
Because really, if you’re going to send out a Christmas lunch with a bang, you might as well do it with a big, makeshift-butane-blowtorch-ignited fireball. Amen.
It’s a long recipe so I’m going to cut to the chase and leave you with the following details:
1. This will feed 20 people easily. It’s rich. And sweet. And delicious. And filling.Â
2. You’d better have space in your freezer. I had to sacrifice my ice cubes. And a tray of dumplings. Just saying.
3. Don’t think about the sugar content. Really. Just this once. It won’t do you any good.
4. If you have leftovers (and you probably will) stick them in a container and pop it back in the freezer. Ours kept for about three days. But only because we ate it all in that period.
tres leches cake
(adapted, ever so slightly, from Martha Stewart)
you will need:
1tsp orange blossom water
1 1/2C plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup milk
2 cups thickened cream
how to do it:
1. Line two 25cm round cake tins with greaseproof paper. Just the bases. Don’t worry about the sides. If you don’t have round tins, use whatever you have, but you want to split the mixture into two tins so it isn’t too thick when baked.
2. Crack the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer (or just a bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer. In this case, warm up your arm muscles too). Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is pale, cream coloured, thick and fluffy. If you rub a bit of the mixture between your finger and thumb you shouldn’t be able to feel any granules of sugar. Add the orange blossom water and beat well to combine.
3. Stir the baking powder, salt and flour together in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture a bit at a time, beating slowly between each addition.
4. Melt the butter and let it cool. Fold the butter into the mixture with a spatula.
5. Pour the mixture evenly between the two tins and smooth the top. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes in a 180C oven or until a skewer comes out clean.
6. Whilst the cake is baking, whisk the condensed milk, evaporated milk, normal milk and thickened cream together in a bowl so that it has an even consistency.
7. As soon as the cakes are out of the oven poke holes all over them with a skewer. I’m serious. All over. Lots of holes. Everywhere! Now ladle the milk mixture onto the hot cakes. Again, not kidding. One ladleful here, one ladleful there. Keep going until all the milk is gone. It looks like there will be too much liquid but somehow, miraculously, the cake will just drink it all up. Let the cakes rest for about an hour before assembly.
you will need:
375ml condensed milk
600ml thickened cream
1/4tsp ground ginger
how to do it:
1. Tip all of your ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for about five minutes. Youâ€™ll know its done when the mixture has almost doubled in volume and you can see a trail when you flick a spoonful of the mixture onto its surface.
2a. If you aren’t using it for the bombe alaska, pour the mixture into an airtight container and put it in your freezer overnight, or for at least four hours. If you like, you can pull it out after a couple of hours and stir it so that it freezes evenly. Or not, it works almost as well.
2b. If you are using it for the bombe alaska, just hold tight and get ready to assemble. Don’t freeze it at this stage. Okay? Okay.
assembling the bombe alaska
you will need:
1x tres leches cake recipe
1x spiced ice-cream recipe
8 egg whites
3/4C icing sugar
how to do it:
1. Carefully tip the cakes out onto baking trays or large plates with a rim. You’ll need the rim as the cake will start to release some of that creamy mixture and it’s best that you don’t have sticky dairy all over your kitchen counter.
2. Grab a deep mixing bowl or a large tin. Line the tin with cling film. The best way to do this is to lay two long pieces on the table to form a cross and then drop them into the tin so the overlap is at the bottom. Make sure there is some overhang.
3. Cut a circle out of one of the cakes to fit the bottom of the bowl. Cut the rest of the cake up into manageable pieces and line the cling-filmed bowl with pieces of cake, jigsawing them together so they cover the insides of the bowl. You should now have a bowl lined with cling film, then lined with cake and a big hole in the middle.
4. Tip the ice-cream mix into the middle. Pull the cling film over the surface of the ice-cream and (using another piece if necessary) wrap the whole bowl up so that the cake and ice-cream are sealed in. Freeze overnight.
5. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer until they reach soft peak stage. Add the icing sugar a bit at a time whilst beating and continue to beat until the meringue mixture reaches firm peak stage. Put it into a piping bag with a star tip.
6. Up-end the frozen dome onto a serving plate and remove the cling film. Pipe meringue stars all over the bombe. Return to the freezer for an hour or until you are ready to serve.
7. Use a blowtorch to scorch the meringue. You’re done!
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