This Tres Leches Tea Cake with Honey Riesling Soaked Fruit is unique and loaded with flavors and texture.
I absolutely love surprises. In fact, I love them so much that when I was kid I would ask my parents to tell me where they hid my Christmas gifts so I could make SURE I didn’t find them by accident.
That’s how serious I am about surprises.
This is me in five years when I’ve decided ugly sweaters are appropriate any-day wear.
Let’s face it. This is really me tomorrow. I love an ugly sweater almost as much as I love that video.
But I digress.
This Tres Leches Cake is loosely based on a dessert The Mr. and I enjoyed at one of our favorite local restaurants, Black Creek Bistro. I’ll save my exclamations about this place for a special Love the Locals post, but suffice it to say, the food there is incredible.
A few weeks ago we ordered a pear and tea cake there for dessert. The cake was fairly unassuming. Dressed simply with a fruit glaze, it looked tasty, but not spectacular.
What a lovely surprise awaited us after that first bite. The cake was moist beyond the belief–each bite melted in your mouth–and the subtle play of pears, dried fruit, and honey was unbelievably good.
As soon as we left, I knew I had to try my own version of this cake at home. And what better occasion than Valentine’s Day to create something extra special?
The Mr. and I both agreed the cake’s moistness could probably be attributed to a soaking of Tres Leches (or three milks). I turned to my trusty King Arthur Flour cookbook for a dependable Tres Leches recipe, then adapted it to suit our likings.
The cake for Tres Leches is a basic sponge cake that’s only slightly sweet. The airy cake forms the perfect pockets for soaking up the flavors of the three milks. For the Tres Leches, I used a mixture of half and half, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk that had been steeped in black tea.
The result is a moist, tender, sweet cake that leaves you wanting more. I couldn’t resist sampling a few bites just after I had soaked them. Let’s just say a few bites turned into a big ol’ slice. The flavor and texture of the cake is just to die for.
But of course, I wanted an extra special surprise for this Valentine’s Day dessert, so I experimented with a glaze similar to that at Black Creek Bistro. To make the glaze, I simply cooked honey, butter, pears, and dried cherries, in a sauce pan until softened then added some riesling and let the mixture cook down into a glaze. The result is a unique cake with loads of flavors and texture to savor. It’s worth savoring.
This Tres Leches Tea Cake was my contribution to this week’s #SundaySupper, but you can check out lots of other great ideas for the big day below! And you can always join us on Twitter at 7 PM to chat about the recipes and ask questions!
For the cake:
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
For the tres leches:
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 can (5 oz) evaporated milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 black tea bags (I used Earl Grey)
For the fruit topping:
- 1 pear, finely chopped
- 1 apple, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1/3 cup Riesling
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or several smaller pans (Mine made 2 9 inch bread pans plus 8 of the mini cake pans you see pictured).
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
- **NOTE: If you have two bowls for your mixer, I highly recommend using them both for the two mixtures below. If not, you'll want to use some hand held electric beaters for one or both of the mixtures below.
- In one large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form. Set aside.
- In another mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks on high speed until they're pale yellow, about 5-7 minutes. Add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture becomes very thick. I tested mine every two minutes or so and knew it was ready when it required quite a bit of effort to stir.
- Add the water and vanilla to the yolk mixture and beat briefly (about 30 seconds). Stir in the dry ingredients. Finally, gently fold in the beaten egg whites until combined.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pans. Bake the cake for 28-30 minutes (if using a 9 x 13) or 15 minutes if using mini pans or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Loosen the sides of the cake with a knife then turn it over onto a serving platter. Use a fork to poke holes all over the cake, then allow to cool completely.
For the tres leches:
- In a medium sauce pan combine the half and half and evaporated milk. Bring nearly to a boil over medium high heat then immediately remove from heat. Place teabags in hot milk, cover, and allow to steep 5-7 minutes. Remove tea bags. Stir sweetened condensed milk into other milks.
- When the cake has cooled completely, slowly pour the milk mixture over it, pausing every now and then to allow it to soak in. Refrigerate the cake for several hours or over night to allow the milk to soak in completely.
For the fruit topping:
- Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add pears and cranberries. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Add honey and stir to coat. Pour in Riesling then allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half. Place on top of finished cakes. If desired, heat cake up before serving.