Milk bakes

De­li­cious nu­tri­tious milk is trans­formed into a duo of dreamy desserts: a creamy ‘three milk’ cake by way of Mex­ico, plus a twist on gu­lab ja­mun – the tooth­some, syrupy dough balls popular in south­ern Asia

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - by guest baker Rosie Reynolds

Ja­mun will sit hap­pily in their syrup for a cou­ple of days, get­ting fat­ter and stick­ier as time goes by

Milk is such a cheap and read­ily avail­able in­gre­di­ent that it’s easy to see why it stars in the bakes and cakes of so many coun­tries around the world. Three-milk cake, or torta de tres leches as it is known in Mex­ico, is a cel­e­bra­tion of milk: a light sponge soaked in con­densed and evap­o­rated milk, dou­ble cream, then topped with yet more whipped cream. This com­plex process be­lies the cake’s per­fect sim­plic­ity. The milk mix­ture soaks into the airy (fat-free) sponge, fill­ing the tiny air pock­ets with sweet creami­ness, and by some mir­a­cle the struc­ture of the cake is main­tained, re­sult­ing in a soft, sweet and tooth­some dessert.

I keep a bag of pow­dered milk in my store­cup­board – just in case I run out of the real deal and the 24-hour shop next to my flat has to shut for the first time in its his­tory. So, when I dis­cov­ered that the south Asian treats called gu­lab

ja­mun are made pre­dom­i­nantly with pow­dered milk and dou­ble cream, soaked in rose ( gu­lab) scented syrup, I fi­nally had a real rea­son to use it. Th­ese are the per­fect treat to make in ad­vance as they will sit hap­pily in their syrup for a cou­ple of days, get­ting fat­ter and stick­ier as time goes by.

Torta de tres leches

The trio of milk tra­di­tion­ally used in the steep­ing of this cake makes for a tooth-tick­lingly sweet dessert. I have swapped out the tra­di­tional dou­ble cream for soured cream, the sharp tang of which cuts through the sweet­ness of the con­densed milk just enough to to keep it the right side of sickly. A dash of hazelnut liqueur is an op­tional ex­tra to add a lit­tle some­thing spe­cial to the cake. You can swap this for your favourite tip­ple – amaretto or cof­fee liqueur would work just as well.

Serves 8-10

3 eggs

150g caster sugar

150g plain flour

1 tsp bak­ing pow­der

For the fill­ing

397g con­densed milk

170g evap­o­rated milk

150ml soured cream, di­vided in two

50ml hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico (op­tional)

A large hand­ful of toasted hazel­nuts, roughly chopped

1 Pre­heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20cm-round, spring­form cake tin. Crack the eggs into a mix­ing bowl and add the sugar. Use an elec­tric hand whisk to beat the eggs and sugar un­til pale, creamy and the mix has roughly tre­bled in vol­ume. To see if it’s ready, switch off your whisk and lift the beat­ers up. If the mix­ture that falls from your whisk sits on the sur­face like a rib­bon for about 5 sec­onds then you’re there.

2 Sift the flour and bak­ing pow­der into the egg mix­ture and gen­tly, but ef­fi­ciently, fold the flour into the mix. Make sure you dig right down to the bot­tom of the bowl to reach all of the flour. It is im­por­tant to keep as much air as pos­si­ble in the mix at this stage. Scrape the cake mix­ture into the pre­pared tin and bake for 25-30 min­utes, or un­til the cake has turned golden, risen and a skewer in­serted into the cen­tre of the cake comes out more or less clean.

3 Mean­while, in an­other bowl, whisk the con­densed milk, evap­o­rated milk, half of the soured cream and the liqueur un­til smooth. Set aside.

4 Re­move the cake from the oven and al­low it to cool for a few min­utes. Sit the cake tin on a bak­ing tray. Use a tooth­pick to make small holes all over the sur­face of the cake, right down the base. Pour over half of the milk mix and let it soak in. Pour over the re­main­ing milk mix and chill it for least an hour, to al­low the sponge ab­sorb all of the creamy milk fill­ing.

5 Un­mould the cake, leav­ing the base in­tact, and place on a serv­ing plate. Spread the re­main­ing soured cream over the top of the cake and sprin­kle with toasted hazel­nuts. Serve cut wedges with a strong cof­fee and an ex­tra shot of liqueur, if you like.

Or­ange and rose ja­mun

Tra­di­tion­ally, gu­lab ja­mun, those balls of milk-based good­ness, are

and soaked in rose wa­ter syrup and flavoured with car­damom. It’s com­bi­na­tion so flo­ral and in­tense it has at times been too de­mand­ing

even my sweet tooth. Here, or­ange zest and essence add a wel­come cit­rus kick to the fried rich­ness.

Makes 12 balls

85g skimmed milk pow­der

50g plain flour, plus ex­tra for dust­ing

Zest of 1 large or­ange

½ tsp or­ange blos­som wa­ter

125ml dou­ble cream

1 litre sun­flower oil, for fry­ing

For the syrup

200g caster sugar

Juice of 1 large or­ange

2 tsp rose wa­ter

Or­ange slices, to serve (op­tional)

1 Put the milk pow­der, flour and or­ange zest into a large mix­ing bowl and stir to com­bine. Grad­u­ally stir in the cream and or­ange blos­som wa­ter. Once they have been added, use your hands to form the mix­ture into a firm, slightly sticky dough.

2 Tip the dough on to a lightly floured work sur­face. Divide the dough into four, then cut each piece into thirds. Roll a piece in the palms of your hands into a wal­nut-sized ball – the heat from your hands will help to com­bine the in­gre­di­ents and should en­sure that there are no cracks on the sur­face of the balls. This should be avoided, be­cause they could cause the balls to burst dur­ing cooking. Re­peat with the rest of the dough.

3 To make the syrup, put the sugar, or­ange juice, rose wa­ter and 200ml cold wa­ter into a small pan set over a medium heat. Stir to dis­solve the sugar, then in­crease the heat and sim­mer for 8 min­utes, or un­til slightly re­duced and syrupy. Re­move from the heat and al­low to cool slightly.

4 Pour the oil into a medium-sized pan and heat the oil to 160C/320F on a sugar ther­mome­ter. Care­fully lower 2-3 balls into the hot oil. Gen­tly flick the dough balls af­ter a few sec­onds to pre­vent them stick­ing to the bot­tom of the pan. Fry for 6 min­utes, turn­ing ev­ery cou­ple of min­utes, un­til a deep golden brown. Re­move with a slot­ted spoon and drain on kitchen pa­per.

5 Put the warm ja­mun in a bak­ing dish just big enough to hold them all snugly, pour over the syrup, tilt the dish to coat the balls, then leave to stand and swell with syrup for an hour be­fore serv­ing. De­li­cious with or­ange slices and an ex­tra driz­zle of cream.

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