During the holidays at the hospital where my wife works her department assigns various days to employees to bring in snacks, baked goods and other treats to celebrate the season. This year my wife was assigned cake day and chip and dip day – sounds like a pretty fun place to work, no?
Last week as we were on the way home from taking the kids to see Santa at the mall my wife realized she forgot to make the lemon drizzle that was supposed to go with the gingerbread cake she had made for that day. Since she wasn’t going to have enough time to assemble it and still make it to work on time for her shift that night, she decided that it would be good enough without it.
Thinking that people could drink milk with their cake to wash it down, she paused and asked me if I thought that gingerbread cake would be good if it was given the tres leches treatment. My response was that there was only one way to know for sure – give it a try!
If you’ve never had tres leches, it is a cake that has been soaked in three milks – condensed, evaporated and heavy cream. It is very rich, but ridiculously good and one of the few cakes for which I’ll risk elevating my blood sugar. For our gingernog tres leches cake, however, we decided to substitute the heavy cream for egg nog.
Even though I rule the kitchen in our house when it comes to the savory, I yield the floor to my wife when it comes to baking. Cakes and other goodies of the baked variety tend to be more exacting and I prefer to have a little more flexibility so I don’t have to stick too closely to recipes. Plus, she enjoys baking and is really good at it.
The first thing we needed to do in our efforts to mash up a holiday staple with the Latin American favorite was to figure out how to lighten up the gingerbread, as it can be quite a dense cake thanks to the molasses. With only one egg in the recipe my wife uses I knew that simply separating it and whipping the egg white wouldn’t be enough. I sought out instructions for a way to turn it into a sponge cake and was quite pleased when I found a Gingerbread Chiffon Sponge Cake recipe on Food.com.
The next thing on the list was to figure out the formulation of milks. I reviewed a number of recipes to determine the appropriate ratio between the three milks and how best to substitute the egg nog for the heavy cream. In the end I just winged it.
Finally, we decided not to frost the cake like a traditional tres leches and instead made a quick nutmeg scented whipped cream to serve with the cake.
A few hours after assembling the cake we got a chance to try it. One word: Amazing. I can’t wait to serve this to my whole family on Christmas morning.
With that I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best to you and yours in the coming New Year.
Gingernog Tres Leches Cake
140 g (2/3 cup) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
4 eggs, separated
110 g (1/2 cup) sugar
85 g (1/3 cup) melted unsalted butter
55 g (1/4 cup) molasses
1 tablespoon rum
55 g (1/4 cup) evaporated milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz – by weight)
1 cup egg nog
1/2 cup evaporated milk
- Grease and line a 9×9 baking dish. Preheat oven to 320°F.
- Sieve flour, ginger, soda together and set aside.
- Beat egg yolks and sugar till very pale and fluffy.Gradually add in melted butter. Add in molasses, rum and milk. Mix well with electric mixer. Pour in sifted dry ingredients and mix.
- In a clean bowl whisk egg whites and the 1 tsp of sugar till foamy. Add in cream of tartar and whisk till stiff peaks form.
- Fold egg whites into cake batter and incorporate well. Pour into tin and bake for around 20-25 minutes (depending on your oven) or till a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then use a fork to perforate the cake
- Pour the milk mixture over the cake about a third at a time allowing for absorption.
- Cover, then refrigerate for at least six hours or even overnight
Nutmeg Scented Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons fresh ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Add all ingredients to a medium sized bowl and with a whisk or a hand mixer beat it until stiff peaks form.
* = the original recipe was detailed by weight in grams. The grams to cups conversion has not been tested and are an approximation. They may not be entirely accurate due to the differences between weight and volume measure. Whenever possible you should bake using units of weight rather than volume.