¡Hola amigos! What’s cooking in your kitchen today? In mine we are baking a Cuatro Leches Cupcakes (Four Milks cupcakes). Before we go to the kitchen, I would like to go over a few facts about this popular cake. The cake I am making is a sponge or foam cake, (in French is called La Génoise); I will soak the cake with four leches instead of the three milks which is normally used. Traditionally a three leches cake is soaked with evaporated, condensed, and whole milk. Today we are going to also use coconut milk and I will use cream instead of the whole milk.
The Genoise cake might be one of the few cakes that does not need butter or any leavening agent. We are going to use mechanic leavening to rise this cake. Mechanical leavening is obtained by incorporating air into the cake with the help of the eggs, sugar and sifted flour. As a result we end up baking a cake that is very light and full of air bubbles. The unique texture of a foam or Genoise cake is perfect for a three or as in this case a four leches cake because the texture allows for the milk to be absorbed without the cake falling apart or becoming soggy. In fact, a Genoise cake if eaten by itself without any softener or moistening agent could be considered a very dry cake. Therefore, the three leches sauce when combined with this cake is an ideal marriage, and a very delicious one.
Do you want to know more interesting staffs about this cake? Follow the story at the end of the recipe. In addition, do you know the differences between a convection and a conventional oven? The answer can be also found below. Now, come let’ go to the kitchen and bake these cupcakes.
Four Leches cupcakes, with strawberry compote and cream chantilly
For the cake:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of lemon zest (optional)
2 cups of all-purpose flour sifted
For the four leches sauce:
1 can of evaporated milk
1 can of condensed milk
1 can of coconut milk
2 cups of heavy cream
1 vanilla bean or one teaspoon of vanilla extract
For strawberries compote:
1 lb. of strawberries
¼ cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon of water (more if needed)
For the cream chantilly and garnishing:
1 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
A few drops of vanilla extract
Fresh strawberries and fresh mint (for garnishing)
Note: before you start baking:
Preheat the oven at 350 ºF or 180 ºC (remember I am using a convention oven please increase your oven by 25 degree). Prepare your baking pans. Butter your pans with room temperature butter. Once this is done take some of all- purpose flour and sprinkle it into each of the cupcakes pan and then shake well to get rid of the extra flour. Refrigerate the buttering and flouring pans until needed. Also, I just wanted to say that the strawberries compote and cream Chantilly are optional. Decorate with whatever topping you like or with nothing if you wish, the cake is as delicious alone as it is with the toppings.
For the cupcakes:
In an electric mixer combined the egg and sugar and mix for about 20 minutes until the mixture triple on volume. Add the sifted flour a little bit at the time while the electric mixer is in level 2 and running. The flour can be also folded manually with a rubber spatula. Whatever method you use is fine just do not mix the batter to much, just enough to integrate the flour. Pour the batter slowly into a pastry bag and pipe it into the prepared pan. If you are using any of the suggested pans below, pour the butter into the prepared pans and spin it a little. This is to help the cake cook uniformly.
Cook the cake 18 to 35 minutes, depending on the kind of pan you are using (I normally bake this cake in 12×2 ½ inches square pan or a 10×3 inches round pan). I baked these cupcakes for about 15 minutes. You cake will be done when it turned golden brown and when there is not indentation remaining after being touched. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool down for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let the cake cool down for about 10 minutes more. Place the cake in a deep flat bowl to be soaked with the four leches or milk.
For the leches sauce:
In a pan add the cream, the evaporated, and the coconut milk. Add the vanilla bean or vanilla extra and bring to a gentle boil for about 2 minutes. Remove from the stove and add the condensed milk.
Let it cool down a room temperature and add the liquid to the cake and refrigerate. Serve the cake cold.
For the strawberries compote:
Place all the ingredients in a pan and cook until strawberries are soft and liquid reduced. Remove from the fire and puree with a submersion blender.
For the cream Chantilly:
Fill a big bowl with ice and a little bit of water (a reverse bain-marie, French for water bath). Put the heavy cream in a stainless steel bowl. Place the bowl over the cold bain marie or water bath and beat the cream with a whisk until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar, the vanilla extract and continue beating until the cream is stiff.
The assembly and presentation:
In a deep plate add plenty of the milk sauce and place the cupcakes in the middle. Place slices of fresh strawberries around the place and the strawberries’ compote at each of the strawberries ends. Top with the cream Chantilly and the fresh mint. Enjoy!
On researching the history and origin of the three leches cake, it was funny to find out that several Latin countries as well as the food company Nestle are claiming to be the originators of this popular cake. For instance, Nestle claimed to have printed the recipe on their condensed and evaporate milk in Mexico in 1875. There are others who believe that the three leches cake was a version of a European tradition of a soaked cake which was brought over to the new world. But who cares from where the cake is from if we have the cake and we can eat it too. You can find a version of this cake anywhere in Latin America and also in the USA. We have all adapted this cake to our own taste adding caramel, coconut milk, chocolate, run etc.
Also, we have found many fun ways for decorating it; with fruits, berries, nuts, cream Chantilly, Italian merengue, or with fruit compotes. The true is that this is a really good cake, which is very popular among kids and adults alike.
On, with another important aspect of baking, the oven and its temperature; do you own a convection or conventional oven and do you know the difference between the two?
There are many differences between convection and a conventional or traditional oven. For those familiarized with this topic, I ask for their forgiveness since this conversation might be a little boring (especially, those working in professional kitchen); however, I think there are many friends out there that do not know the difference and I took the liberty to write these lines on their behalf. Although there are many differences between convention and conventional ovens the most important difference consists in the way each oven transfer heat onto the food being cooked. Traditionally, a conventional oven uses one or two elements to generate heat inside the oven area. On the other hand a convection oven uses more than two sources or elements, and an internal fan system to distribute the heat within the oven area. This fan system keeps the heat circulating the hot air through the oven, allowing for an even distribution and a constant oven temperature. As a result of this, your food cooks evenly. Also, a convection oven cooks your food faster due to the fact that the heat is directed directly onto the food being cooked. Therefore, it is important to let people know if you are cooking in a convection oven since your oven’s temperature needs to be adjusted. Generally, if you cook in a conventional oven, to even out with a convection oven, the temperature should be increased by 25 degrees Fahrenheit or vice versa. For instance, I baked this cake at 350 Fahrenheit in a convection oven; in this case a conventional oven temperature should be increased by 25 to 375 Fahrenheit.
I hope this information is helpful and could be put to good use.
This post is also available in: Spanish