Clandestine Cake Club and Tres Leches Cake – Take 2

I’ve joined the Clandestine Cake Club, also known as CCC, to encourage me to bake different things and it’s an excuse to sit around eating and talking cake! The last theme was around the world in 80 cakes and inspired me to try the disastrous Natas Cake, after that failure I decided to have another shot at the Tres Leches. I wanted to make a better presented one, I decided to make two which I would stack and decorate with some fancy pipping. The plan was simple enough…

Tres leches is very popular in Latin America, its country of origin is unknown, yet the most popular options seem to be Venezuela, Mexico and Nicaragua. It’s believed to have become so widely spread due to the recipe being printed on Nestlé’s tins to promote tinned milk. As it uses condensed milk and evaporated milk it was perfect, although I used ordinary full fat, one tinned item is enough for me in a single recipe!  These milks are mixed with cream which is poured over the sponge, giving it its name three milks.

I made two cakes separately, although I made them exactly the same and even baked them in the same tin (one after the other), one turned out to be a disaster. They both looked perfect when they came out of the tins, in fact this is a really beautiful sponge, kind of like a genoise.

I put them in saucepans, poured over the milk mixture like the recipe states and left them over night. It does feel mad pouring 400ml of liquid on a cake!

Tip: If you intend to serve your cake in a different recipient from the one you soak it in, I would strongly recommend lining it with a plastic bag or cling film.

I had quite a battle getting the cakes out as they stuck to the bottom. The first was the disaster. It was so soggy and next to impossible to get out, even with a lot of cajoling from my trusty rubber spatula.

The second wasn’t nearly as bad. For some reason it hadn’t soaked up all the milk mixture and came out of the pan much easier and was no where near as soggy.

I really have  no idea what I did differently. I did contemplate stacking them anyway but decided against it and decorated the better one for the club (the failed one is still delicious and is currently half eaten in my mum’s fridge, I had to relocate it before I ate it all!). I’m also not sure if the weight of the cake would squish the cream filling out if you did try sandwiching  them, although I have seen pictures of them online. Perhaps you could soak them for less time so they would be lighter…


Cake – makes one 7″ sponge, I made each of mine separately. Double it for a 9″ or 10″ tin

2 eggs, separated
60ml milk
150g sugar
105g self raising flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Three milks – this would also have to be doubled 
1/2 tin of condensed milk, roughly 200g
Equal amount of milk, or evaporated milk
150ml double cream

300ml double cream to decorate

Butter and dust your tin with flour, tap out any excess. Preheat the oven to 180c.

Sift the flour and cinnamon, set aside. Whisk the egg whites until frothy, add the sugar a tbs at a time and whisk until stiff peaks form. This takes a while due to the volume of sugar, you want to get it really stiff.

Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. The mixture softens but still holds its shape.

Add the flour mix in three parts, alternating with the milk in two parts. So: flour, milk, flour, milk, flour.

Pour the batter into your tin, its rather runny. Bake for 30mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake in its tin for 10 mins before moving it into a recipient in which to soak it. I used saucepans! Next time I will line them first…

Mix the three milks together, pour over the cake and watch in awe as it sucks it all up! Cover and leave in the fridge over night.

To decorate I tried ‘petal pipping’, but do what ever you like! In Latin America this cake is often decorated with fresh fruit and/or dessicated coconut.

Whip the cream, with a little icing sugar if you like, and crumb coat the cake.

Fill a pipping bag with the rest, if you don’t have one just use a sandwich or freezer bag and cut about a 1cm hole in one corner. Pip two dots side by side, or as many as you like depending on the cake height. Using a spoon, butter knife or palette knife, spread each ball slightly and then pip another over the smudge. Continue all around the cake.

When I came to joining the edges, I tried as best as I could to sort of tuck the last smudges in.

As for the top, I went in a spiral.

I was very pleased with how my first petal pipping attempt went although cream isn’t the ideal thing as it starts to go a bit buttery in the pipping bag. How is that avoidable?

The selection of international cakes at the meeting were excellent! I had expected lots of European cakes but there wasn’t a single one! There where a few American ones, a sweet potato based cake standing out amongst them. Others experimented with spice, there was a delicious chocolate and cardamon cake. My favorite was the Moroccan orange cake which was beautifully moist (it was almond based and soaked in syrup) and topped with cream. I’m really looking forward to the next meeting and what it will have me experimenting with!


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