Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tres Leches Bread Pudding

 I went to a "fiesta" with a few people from work this weekend and the hostess asked us to contribute a dish of our own. I debated between my two loves: vegetables and dessert. Since a.) most people don't love veggies the way I do (I'm looking at you, dear husband) and b.) I've always wanted to try making tres leches cake, I chose the latter.

I looked at a few recipes and decided on The Pioneer Woman's Tres Leches Cake. She had very specific directions and illustrations which I find important when making something new for the first time. The cake was baking beautifully, but somehow fell apart when I was transferring it out of the pan. I blame myself, not the recipe. I used the wrong type of pan, and I buttered it instead of greasing it. I don't recommend doing either of these things.

Not a clean break
To be honest, I thought about crying. I had used the last of the all-purpose flour and I didn't think a whole wheat cake would go over well. Instead of running to the store for a pre-packaged dessert, or more flour to start the cake over, I decided to take my lemons and make lemonade (that is, take my crumbs and make bread pudding).

I let the cake cool, cubed it, revised the recipe a little, and came out with a pretty good product, considering I'd never made tres leches cake or bread pudding before!


1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 whole eggs
1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk

 1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. 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, pour in remaining 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. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool. (And for the love of all things Mexican, if you achieve this without breaking the cake, go to the Pioneer Woman's recipe and make the cake the right way!)

If you break the cake, or just want to try something different, allow the cake to cool and cut into 1-2" cubes. Put the cubes in an oven-save Dutch oven (or, alternately, 2 pie pans). Dry the cubes out a bit by placing back in the oven for about 10 minutes, being careful not to let anything burn.

In a separate bowl, mix the condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream, cinnamon, vanilla, and egg. Pour over the cake cubes and toss gently to coat evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes. (I left the top on my Dutch oven for the first 20 minutes, but I'm not sure that's necessary).

Serve warm with freshly whipped cream and you've successfully Americanized and winterized a classic Mexican dessert!

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