I have a hard time liking what I make.
Not because it’s not good. It is! My friends and family and random strangers who I share my wares with all enjoy what I make. They are enthusiastic and emphatic in their praise.
I am, however, my harshest critic. Always have been, (probably) always will be. (I shudder to think at someone being harsher to me than I am.) I’ve got a bad case of perfectionism with a touch of the imposter syndrome – so even if a dessert is good, even great, I think it can be better.
And now, there’s this cake. A cake so good it sold out in one night the first time I made it (something my coconut icebox cake was also capable of). A cake so good I waited an entire year to make it again, because I just had to make it again. A cake so good even I like it.
Cinco Leches Cake
1 ½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
6 eggs, separated with whites whipped to soft peaks with ½ tsp. cream of tartar
1 ½ cups sugar
1/3 cup beer, preferably a Mexican lager such as Modelo
2 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper and spray with baking spray, set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, set aside.
Cream together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick, about three minutes. Add the beer and extracts, stirring to combine. Carefully stir in dry flour mixture, scraping down the bowl to be sure everything is fully incorporated. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites until a smooth batter forms.
Pour into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
While the cake cools mix together the following in a large measuring cup:
1-15oz. can sweetened condensed milk
5oz. evaporated milk
8oz. heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Using a meat thermometer or a cake tester, poke holes all over the cooled cake and slowly pour the milk mixture over the top. The liquid will absorb into the cake after a few minutes.
Cover and refrigerate cake for several hours or overnight to let the milk fully absorb into the cake.
For the frosting:
¼ cup merengue powder
½ cup beer, preferably a Mexican lager such as Modelo
Pinch of salt
1 ¼ cups sugar
3 TBSP honey
½ cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the merengue powder, beer, and salt on low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until soft peaks form.
While the merengue whips, add the sugar, water, and honey to a medium sauce pot. Place over high head and cook until sugar syrup reaches 240 degrees (soft ball stage). Immediately remove from heat.
Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly drizzle in hot sugar syrup to whipped merengue. Increase speed to high and whip until mixture has cooled and it fluffy and glossy. Add in vanilla. Spread over cooled cake.
Now for the extra two milks that really put this cake over the top!
*Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.