Just when you thought tres leches cake was forever out of reach, we bring you a totally delicious gluten-free, dairy-free tres leches cake that wows without the wheat or milk! By our pal Alanna Taylor-Tobin, it’s perfect to feed crowds, it’s impressive, too, thanks to its spongy-wet cake soaked with coconut milk and a light and fluffy topping crowned with fresh berries.
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Vanilla Tres Leches Cake with Berries
For the Cake:
- 1 teaspoon room temperature coconut oil or vegan butter for the pan
- 3 tablespoons sunflower oil or other neutral oil
- 3 large egg yolks (reserve the whites)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (120 grams) granulated sugar divided
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (50 grams) millet flour
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (55 grams) sweet white rice flour
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (40 gramoat flour
- 1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 large egg whites at room temperature (reserve the yolks)
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the Milk Mixture:
- 1 (13.5 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
- 3/4 cup (6 ounce) canned sweetened condensed coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
- Pinch salt
For the Whipped Coconut Cream:
- 2 (13.5-ounce) cans coconut cream chilled at least 8 hours
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla paste or extract
For the Berries:
- 4 to 6 cups fresh berries
- Sugar to taste
- Lemon juice to taste
Make the cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325ºF. Butter the bottom only of a 9- by 12-inch or 9- by 13-inch cake pan. The cake batter will crawl up the ungreased sides of the pan, making for a taller, lighter cake that will better absorb the milk mixture.
In a very large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup water wiht the oil, egg yolks and vanilla, then whisk in the 1⁄2 cup sugar. Place a strainer over the bowl and sift the millet, sweet rice, and oat flours with the baking powder and salt directly into the yolk mixture, adding back any bits left behind in the strainer. Whisk until very smooth and the consistency of pancake batter.
In the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whip until the whites are glossy and just hold a firm peak when lifted from the bowl, 1 to 3 more minutes.
Use a flexible silicone spatula to fold one-third of the whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining whites until just combined and no streaks remain. Immediately pour the batter into the prepared pan and quickly but gently spread the batter into a thin, even layer.
Transfer to the oven and bake until the cake is golden, springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool until warm, about 30 minutes.
While the cake is cooling, make the milk mixture: Combine the coconut milk, sweetened condensed coconut milk, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat, stirring until combined and warm to the touch. Keep warm; this will help the mixture absorb into the cake.
When the cake has cooled slightly, poke it all over with a slender chopstick or skewer (make 100 or more holes). Slowly pour the warm milk mixture over the cake 1 cup at a time, letting it absorb into the cake, until the cake stops absorbing liquid. Tilt and swirl the cake to help the liquid absorb. Cover and chill the cake until ready to serve, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
Make the whipped coconut cream: Remove the bottoms from the chilled cans of coconut cream and pour off the liquid. Scrape the cold cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment and add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip on high until the mixture holds firm peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. Chill until needed.
Prepare the berry topping: Cut any large berries into smaller pieces. Combine the berries in a large bowl and toss with enough sugar and lemon until you like the taste. Let sit for 15 minutes to draw out the berry juices.
To serve: Top the cake with the whipped coconut cream and berries. Cut into squares or wedges and enjoy.