Three milk cake, or in Spanish, pastel de tres leches, is a delicious treat found in abundance in Texas. In fact, it is so good, that many countries are fighting about where it originated. Everyone, it seems, claims to be an expert on the matter. According to most so-called “experts,” the top two contenders for this honor are Mexico and Nicaragua. But others stridently disagree, asserting the cake’s origin is in Costa Rica, Cuba, or a lot of other Central and South American countries.
Since no one really knows, and anyone can be a self-professed “expert,” I would think that Fargo, North Dakota, or, Baraga, Michigan may want to chime in and claim credit. In fact, any village, town, city, county, or state hoping to increase tourism should claim credit. Think of the additional visitors the Upper Peninsula of Michigan would get for being famous for both this milk cake and the pasty. If you don’t know what a pasty is, you need to check out a blog site of someone extolling the virtues of great food in the Copper Country of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I would give you an overview of the pasty myself, but I’m a little busy with this blog here in Texas.
All kidding aside, there is no doubt that the cake had its beginning south of the United States border. But beyond that, all bets are off. I prefer to favor Mexico, because it is close, and Texas is heavily populated with wonderful Mexican-Americans. But, just like all the other “experts” who weigh in on this important subject matter, I have no proof to support my opinion.
Whatever its origins, everyone can agree that this is one outstanding cake. I’m a great cook, in my “expert” opinion, but I’m not a baker by any means, so I’m going to simplify things just a bit, well okay, quite a bit. I’m talking about radical cake making directions here. Bake a sponge cake, punch holes in it gently with a fork or tooth-pick, and then pour three types of milk into it so it soaks through the cake. The types of milk must include a mixture of condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. Refrigerate it, then frost the cake with a mixture of whipped cream, sugar, and vanilla. Then, place some cherries or strawberries on top. I can see professional bakers rolling their eyes (repeatedly). Do yourself a favor and get a detailed recipe or find a store selling these cakes. In either case, it’s worth the effort and expense.
When all is said and done, once this cake is thoroughly chilled, it is wonderfully milky, creamy, moist, sweet, and satisfying. It is no wonder so many countries south of the border want to claim a piece of this “pie.” Well, maybe it's not a pie, but it is a cake, and an excellent one indeed!