Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tres Leches Cake For Kirkwood Lake Series


I'd never made one of these babies before, and you know how it is: Someone has to take one for the team... go the distance... try this, try that, check out flavors, toppings, etcetera!  :)

Well, my Hispanic heroine in "The Lawman's Holiday Wish" (December 2013 Love Inspired Books) is a former bad girl come home to help get things on an even keel...

And she's got a heart of gold, but like so many kids these days, she resented just about everything and everyone around her as a teen. Now all grown up, and after paying her price in multiple ways, she's home...

And not everyone in town is happy about it. BUT.... she'd determined to win them over or at the very least, quiet them down! When she decides to staff the farm's dairy store booth at the bicentennial kick-off festival in October, tongues wag... eyebrows are raised... and some won't even have their booth near hers, but cake is an amazing thing...

You thought I was gonna say "faith" was an amazing thing, didn't youse????

Well, it is, but cake has its own share of followers on God's green Earth so when Rainey sees the hero's reaction to her Tres Leches Cake from Abuela's Mexican recipe, she gets the idea to serve the cake at the festival... Now for RAINEY to do this, it meant that RUTHY had to come up with a great Tres Leches recipe... Sure, I could have pretended to know how to make one and fudged it with readers, but what fun is that???


I went to facebook and pleaded....


I searched online and found some recipes, then decided to experiment by combining elements.

Back to facebook, pleading once again, frankly BEGGING.... Lame, right?

But I got a couple of great ideas, one from our fresh pioneer......

And one from an old high school buddy!

Mandy and I went to work. Mandy loves to work in the kitchen and she and Paul are not afraid to TRY THINGS.

So we did. And then I got my husband's family in on the voting:

One cake was dense.

One was light.

One topping included coconut and coconut milk

One topping was plain and just used sweetened milk.

So I sent out samples. No goats/cows/or inlaws were hurt in the making of this cake.

No one died.

I'm just sharing that disclaimer because YOU NEVER KNOW.

Once the votes were in we checked out the results through Price Waterhouse Coopers.

(We didn't really but finance boy works there so I wanted to give PWC a shout out.)

We adjusted the recipe.... to a slightly denser cake than the light one...

We came up with three variations for the book:

Coconut pineapple

I'm going to give you the regular one here and we'll do the other renditions as the year goes on, and GUESS WHAT??????

Not only are they doing this as a CHRISTMAS BOOK, YAY!!!!!

But they're including the recipe!!!!!


Rainey Cabrera McKinney’s Tres Leches Cake (Three-Milk Cake)

Sponge cake:
1 cup all purpose flour
6 eggs (3 will be separated, but not permanently! No lawyers needed!)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons almond flavoring, if desired. (We love almond sponge so we add it.)

2 large mixing bowls

In one bowl, put three eggs and 3 egg yolks. Add the sugar and beat with mixer until pale yellow in color. This may take several minutes. In second bowl (making sure there’s no grease on/in bowl) beat the 3 egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold the whipped egg whites into the beaten egg/sugar mixture. Sift the 1 cup of flour over the mix and fold in with spatula, just until flour streaks disappear. Don’t overmix… We want the cake spongy and light, ready to receive the milk syrup later… Oh, yum…. 

Using spatula, gently put cake batter into buttered 13” x 9” pan.

Bake at 325° on center rack until cake is puffed and golden. Sides should pull away from pan slightly.  Once cake is removed from oven, allow to cool a few minutes, then flip cake onto large tray or plate with sides to prevent sauce from spilling over. Using a large fork or a steel knife sharpener (this is what I prefer, those rounded steel rods that come with knife sets… perfect for poking holes!) poke holes at ½” intervals throughout cake. No, you don’t need to measure the distance… “guesstimate”, okay?  Nothing goes wrong if holes are closer… you want that milk sauce to penetrate throughout the cake.

Milk Sauce:

*Mix together in medium saucepan:
½ cup corn syrup
¾ cup evaporated milk
¾ cup sugar
Heat to boiling over medium heat, and then simmer about five minutes, until pale caramel/gold in color.  Mix in:
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
2/3 cup coconut milk (for coconut variety) or 2/3 cup half-and-half or light cream
Mix together, then spoon over cake slowly, allowing syrup to drench cake.

*1 can sweetened condensed milk can be used instead of first three ingredients, but if you don’t have it on hand, the mix of sugar, corn syrup and evaporated milk makes an amazing milk sauce and only takes minutes on top of the stove. It does bubble, so make sure pan is big enough so you don’t overflow. If using the canned variety, no need to heat.

Refrigerate cake, then top with Whipped Cream:

Whip 2 cups heavy whipping cream and ½ cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread over cooled cake. May be garnished with fruit, nuts, coconut, etc. Whatever you like! This great recipe has become a family favorite for the Hernes… and now the McKinney’s of Kirkwood Lake!


  1. Wow, Ruthy -- the lengths you go to in order to research for a book! I impressed! I've never made my own sponge cake - what kind of Irish am I?! And never heard of milk sauce so this will be a challenge.

    Guess what? You kept me up until 1:00 a.m. last night. I just had to finish The Lawmen's Second Chance -- there was no good place to stop! Now I'm about to start work a wee bit cranky 'cause I'm tired. But oh Ruthy -- what a beautiful story on so many levels. You did the subject matter absolute justice -- with such compassion and humour and heart-tugging honesty. And the inspirational thread really spoke to me. It's like Lisa was inside my head...or I was inside her head? Anyway -- you've blessed me with that read, Ruthy. Thank you!

    1. OH, you darling girl, you have just made my day!!!! I always just GRIN when I see your reviews, hear your voice.... You make me smile over my work! Thank you!!!!


      I loved that story and hated the reason I was inspired to do it, but Lisa's still doing okay and we just keep praying.... and making fun of her! Because that's how we roll.

      You will love this cake. Oh my stars, Mary-of-many-names' recipe idea coupled with Greg's from Florida coupled with my hands in the kitchen made what Mandy and I declared to be a perfect sponge for saucing.... I bet it would be great with lemon sauce, too.

      We'll try that for summer!!!

  2. well I can't read it yet 'cause kindle makes me wait until the exact date :(

    not so sure about tres leches- I work with a lot of hispanics and one prides herself on her awesome tres leches but honestly I felt kinda sick after eating it- hers was literally cake with milk stuff all over it - like it was in a bowl of melted ice cream - plus I think it was a little spoiled - tasted kinda 'off' :( I need to find the 'real deal' I guess or heck maybe that WAS the real deal and I need to find an altered fake version! this one sounds good- I dont' recall coconut milk in hers but it was a soggy mess IMO. now chocolate meringue pie is where it's at! :) heroine makes the perfect meringue pies she's in business (that's why I'm still single I think)lemon and coconut 2nd and 3rd place and it's seriously a dying art - a friend of mine did a pie swap around Thanksgiving and had 6 pis - the lemon was awful - of all the pies hers was just 'ok' (crust got soggy) and the best was a buttermilk pie - I'd never had that before but if I ever have to have buttermilk that's the form I want it in!

    anyways another couple weeks' wait for this book but I liked the last one - think it was the last one - the woman with her brother's kids and the ex-solder hunk.


    1. Susanna, I die laughing over your descriptions!!!! "The woman with her brother's kids and the ex-soldier hunk".... YES! THAT WAS IT!!! :)

      You know, if you don't like wet bread... like bread pudding or strawberry shortcake when the cake gets soaked with berry goodness... you might not like this, although I deliberately (yes, the Celt within popped out!!!) made it a little drier than some recipes. So moist, filled, but not sogging. I don't like the sogging consistency.

    2. somehow soggy strawberry shortcake and overly syrup-py'd bread pudding don't bother me - only had 'tres leches' once and it was yuck - but I think the coworker was trying to poison us :-( tasted like left out milk about to go bad and this is from a girl who can chow on a dessert! hardly ever met one I didn't like. this recipe sounds a LOT better than what I had that's for sure!

  3. Ooo...cut me a slice of that. Y-U-M!

    Isn't it terrible, the lengths we writers have to go to in the name of research. Simply dreadful for all involved, don't you know:-)

    Looking forward to reading Rainey's story.

    1. Oh my stars, as you can see I'm okay with taking one for the TEAM, LOL!!!

      Did you know that I taught myself (with Mandy's help and a book on tiling) how to tile floors and tables and walls for Made to Order Family? :)

      And for that same book my years in the big grocery store bakery came in very helpful... I love anything that PAYS ME TO RESEARCH/LEARN.

      That's the Ruthy mantra of Win/Win. :)

  4. Oh my stars. This sounds amazing!!!! Some of my favorite flavors.

    Can't wait for this book, too!

  5. Hey, ya'll! I added a printer button for you!! :) It removes all the side bar stuff. And at the top of the page that pops up, you have the option to remove the photos. So feel free to print the recipes!



    2. Missy, you rock!!!!! Thank you, oh techie-smart-friend!!!

  6. Yum, yum!!! And I know better than to make this cake. I would eat it ALL.