I am an expert sous-chef, but I have little experience in the dessert realm. But what kind of chihuahua-terrier-Dalmatian-Pekingese hybrid would I be were I to quake in the presence of a few eggs, flour, and sugar?
When the Lady announced Her plan to participate in our friend Lili’s Tres Leches Challenge, I knew I would be a vital part of the cake-making team. It was quite a learning experience for me (I seem to be having a lot of new experiences lately), and I hope my newly acquired knowledge will demystify the baking process for any dogs who, like me, have little acquaintance with the pastry arts.
Albert’s Guide to Helping Your Human Bake a Cake
Step 1: Try to convince your human to make something else instead. Perhaps a nice London Broil? Why not some scallops, perfect for this lovely spring weather we’re having? And you can never go wrong with a classic roast chicken, can you?
If, despite your best arguments, your human insists on sticking with the cake plan, proceed to step 2.
Step 2: Procure the ingredients. Depending on where you live, you may find yourself excluded from much of this activity. Most of the ingredients in the recipe came from a grocery store, whose doors are forever sealed against little old me.
However, the good thing about tres leches cake is that it calls for a lot of eggs, which meant a trip to our friends from Tamarack Hollow Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket. I requested a dozen of their finest eggs. I also scanned the ground for my favorite snacks, but neither kale nor Brussels sprouts are in season in Vermont. I left empty-stomached but with hope that at least one of those eggs might find its way to me.
Step 3: Prepare the cake. Here is where you can be very useful. It is a good idea to watch while your human prepares the cake in case anything delicious falls on the ground.
The Lady decided to use a recipe for coconut tres leches cake as our base, with a few modifications: She added a little lime zest, swapped out sweetened coconut flakes for unsweetened, and used a springform pan (which I helped choose). We do not have a stand mixer in our tiny kitchen, so the Lady was able to use the egg white preparation as a triceps toning workout. If your human is stuck in a similar situation, be sure to lend moral support while those flaccid arm muscles are subjected to unfamiliar exercise.
After the flour is folded into the egg mixture, the cake bakes in the oven. This is a good time to take a nap.
Step 4: Finish and enjoy the cake. After the cake has bathed in its milk mixture (our version used coconut milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk) for several hours, or overnight, it should be ready. Wake up your human: it’s time to finish the cake! (Also, it’s time for a walk and my breakfast, thank you very much.)
We topped our cake with the traditional lightly sweetened whipped cream. Once again, I stood by and encouraged the Lady as She exercised Her upper arms. The cake was then garnished with toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes and a few curls of lime zest. The coconut flakes not only provide a pleasingly crunchy contrast to the moist cake and silky cream, but also are a suitable comestible for dogs (since we used the unsweetened variety).
If your human declares that such a rich cake is liable to wreak havoc with your canine constitution, demand that they make you an alternative dessert. I was served a small dish of plain, nonfat yogurt garnished with unsweetened coconut flakes, and it was quite tasty.
I still think we should have made the London Broil, though.
For a healthier and more expert tropical twist on the tres leches cake, take a look at Lili’s coconut, pineapple, lime, and rum version here. And you can see all of the pretty tres leches cakes in the challenge here.