I must confess that it took me atleast 3 – 4 cakes before I dominated the art of baking a perfect (well to me it was perfect) Dominican cake, which figures because I honestly thought the frosting (suspiro) would be the difficult part. In my adventures I learned the following:
AVOID dark Teflon pans, they tend to cook the cake really fast on the outside and leave it raw on the inside (I found out the hard way the first time), unless you bake it at really low temperatures. Baking at low temperatures for really long times leads to dry cakes (I found out the hard way the second time haha). But then I realized that most bakers I know use aluminum pans so I decided to go out and buy one (well actually 2). It made a huge difference and my cakes came out perfect using those instead.
Moral of the story, I recommend to always use aluminum pans to get even baking.
Also, to make the batter, it’s easier to use a stand mixer. If you don’t own one and only have one of the handheld mixers, just use that for your first cake since some of the good quality stand mixers can be very expensive.
Last but not least, making a cake is a messy task! It was a challenge trying to keep everything nice and organized for the pictures, I am proud of the outcome though.
My decorating skills are really awful, therefore, I’m not going to go into details on proper techniques on how to decorate a cake. Just have fun with it like I did. If it comes out ugly, just hide it and secretly serve it to your family, then make another one to continue practicing.
This recipe makes what we Dominicans call “un bizcocho de una libra” (1 pound cake), therefore, it feeds about 20 people depending on how big you cut the pieces.
To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
4 Cups of Flour
10 Eggs (5 whole eggs and 5 egg yolks)
3.5 Sticks of Butter
3 1/4 Cups of Sugar (granulated)
1 tbsp White Vanilla
1.5 tbsp Baking Powder
1 Can (approx. 12oz) Evaporated Milk
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Cold Water
1 Lime (zested, about 1 tbsp)
1 Cup Egg Whites (about 5 Egg Whites)
3 Cups of Sugar
1 Cup of Water
2 Strips of Lime Peel
Dulce De Leche Filling:
2 Cans of Condensed Milk
1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk
Okey, let’s make us a Dominican cake! First, prepare the ingredients so that you have them ready to go when it’s time to start making the batter. Also, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Add 1 cup of flour to a strainer that is placed over a large bowl to sift, (you can use a flour sifter if you have that, but I don’t so I use a strainer ),
In the middle of sifting add 1.5 tbsp of baking powder and sift with the flour,
Do not skip the sifting method because this will avoid lumps in your batter,
After sifting the flour and baking powder, set aside. Take 1 lime and lightly grate the peel, make sure to grate the green part not the white, since the white part is very bitter,
Then take 2 separate bowls and separate the yolks from the egg whites from 5 eggs,
Remember to break the eggs open very gently because egg yolks break very easily,
Set the egg whites aside to use later for the frosting (suspiro). Don’t put the egg whites in the refrigerator because they need to be at room temperature when we use them.
Then add 5 whole eggs to the 5 yolks and the zest of one lime (about 1 tbsp) to the bowl, keep in mind that you can add the lime zest directly to the batter, but I like to let it soak in the eggs for a few minutes before adding it to the batter,
I recommend that you let the butter hang out at room temperature for a few hours before using so that it’s nice and soft. If you use cold butter, cut it into cubes before you start to mix it for the batter.
Take the butter and add it to a nice big bowl (my stand mixer has a 3q capacity bowl), then turn the mixer on low to medium speed and start to “cream” the butter,
While the butter is being mixed, slowly add the sugar to incorporate them both,
The mixture will turn into what looks like a thick paste,
Then add the eggs slowly (drop 1 or 2 in at a time) to incorporate into the butter and sugar, remember to beat at a slow to medium speed so that you don’t get bathed in the ingredients you add,
Depending on what kind of stand (or hand) mixer you use, you can shut the power off and scrape the bowl with a spatula. I usually leave the mixer running when I scrape since the blades on my mixer are on the side and the bowl spins,
When the eggs, sugar and butter are mixed well,
Start adding the flour slowly while the mixer is running,
As you add the flour and the batter get’s thicker, remember to scrape the sides of the bowl so that everything mixes well,
After adding half of the flour, slowly add 1 can of evaporated milk,
After adding the milk, continue to slowly add the remaining flour,
Remember to scrape the bowl to avoid clumps, it’s alright if you have to shut off the power on the mixer to do this (I do it to scrape the blades as well),
After adding all of the flour, add 1 tbsp of white vanilla (use Dominican vanilla if you can get some ),
Then take a cup and add 1/4 cup of cold water and 1/4 cup of orange juice,
Then slowly add it to the batter,
After adding the orange juice, let it mix for a few minutes, make sure to scrape the bowl and the blades with the spatula to make sure there aren’t any clumps of flour or butter stuck on the sides. The batter should be smooth and creamy,
When you dip a spoon or spatula in the batter and let it drip, you should see the “ribbon” effect, which just means that the batter drips at quick rate leaving a ribbon trail where it lands,
Let’s prepare the baking pans. For even baking, use aluminum pans (Wilton is a popular brand that makes good quality pans). I have two 12″ x 2″ pans that I like to use to divide the batter in half. Diving the batter in two pans will allow for it to rise easier than using just one pan. It will also be easier to add the filling since you won’t have to cut the cake in half to do so.
You can grease the pans by spreading butter or baking spray. I like to use a method my cousin taught me (who is a commercial baker that makes really delicious cakes with her top secret recipe), which is to take 2 tbsp of butter and melt it over medium heat,
Then add about 1 to 1.5 tbsp of flour and mix it well until it’s to the consistency of a thick gravy,
After the flour is dissolved with the butter, turn the heat off, then take a pastry brush and grease the pans with the mixture,
When the pans are greased, divide the batter in half between both pans,
Remember to scrape the bowls with the spatula to make sure to get all of the batter out.
After adding the batter to the pans, shake it and give it a few taps to settle the batter and avoid air pockets,
I usually bake both cakes at the same time since I can fit them both in my oven. Put it in the preheated oven and bake them at 325 degrees for about 55 – 60 minutes. Make sure to have the rack in the center of the oven. If you have the rack on the bottom, the bottom of the cakes will overcook.
However, I do have to switch their position halfway through the baking so that they bake evenly, after about 25 – 30 minutes, I bring the cake that is in the back towards the front, and I rotate the pan as well,
Continue to bake for another 25 – 30 minutes.
When the cakes are ready they will be golden and have what I call a “flattened muffin top”, which is a slightly raised top with some “cracks” in the cake. To ensure they are thoroughly cooked you can stick a toothpick or a clean knife through the center, if they come out clean the cake is ready.
Set the cakes aside and let them cool for a few hours. Do not attempt to put frosting on a hot or warm cake, it will just cause the frosting to wilt and become a mess.
Now let’s make the filling. You can also make this before the cake, the order is really up to you.
If you are a frequent visitor of my blog you probably know that I am addicted to dulce de leche caramel and that I like to use it often. So it’s no surprise that’s what I’ll be using to stuff my cake today.
First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Take a small baking dish and pour both cans of condensed milk into it,
When all of the milk is in the dish,
Take a separate baking dish that is large enough to hold the baking dish containing the milk and set it aside,
Cover the baking dish with the condensed milk with some aluminum foil, then place it in the larger baking dish we set aside earlier. Then poke some holes in it with a fork to will allow the steam to escape while the milk cooks down. About 10 – 12 pokes should be good,
Add some warm water to the outer baking dish, this method of cooking the milk is called “baño de Maria”, which means “Maria bath”. It’s the same method used to cook flan and other types of custards,
Transfer the dish into the oven and let it cook for 1.5 hours. While it cooks, DO NOT remove the aluminum foil.
After 1.5 hours, remove the dish from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes because it will be piping hot! After you’ve let it cool, remove the aluminum foil and feast your eyes on this deliciousness:
With a spoon or spatula, mix the caramel then add about 1/2 cup of evaporated milk (if you want a thicker caramel add less evaporated milk, if you want it looser, add more milk),
I suggest you use a whisk to mix the caramel and milk,
Continue to mix until it’s nice and smooth,
A method I like to use to check to make sure the caramel is a good thickness is to dip a clean spoon and then run your finger down the middle, if the caramel stays put it’s a good thickness,
Transfer the caramel into a different container and set aside uncovered to let it cool down.
When the cakes and the filling are cool, let’s put them together. Take each cake and trim the top off (to get a flatter surface).
Save the piece you shave off, it’s delicious with some coffee or milk, or I like to put it in the toaster oven and “toast” it then spread a little butter on top.
Then take about 1 cup of the dulce de leche caramel and spread it over one of the cakes, make sure to leave a border of about 1/4″ to 1/2″ on the edge so that the caramel doesn’t drip out over the sides,
Then place the second cake (shaved side down) over the filling to seal it in,
Now let’s make the frosting (suspiro)!
Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature, place them in a large bowl and set aside,
Take a small sauce pan, put it on medium-high heat and add 1 cup of water,
Then add 3 cups of sugar,
Take 1 lime and trim off a couple of pieces of the peel,
Make sure to only peel the green part, trim the excess white part off because if you leave it that will make the syrup bitter,
Add it to the sugar and water, then mix well to dissolve,
While the syrup starts to get hot and becomes translucent, let’s start to beat the egg whites.
For my particular stand mixer, it doesn’t beat the egg whites well enough unless I detach the mixer and do it by hand since I can detach the mixer from the stand.
Start to beat the egg whites at high speed, the egg whites will start to get frothy,
Continue to beat until they become a thick foamy consistency,
Make sure to get good contact with the bottom of the bowl to mix all of the egg whites. When they are nice and stiff, you can stop mixing and wait for the syrup to be ready,
When the syrup is boiling and translucent, let it cook for a couple of minutes (you don’t want it to turn dark brown, just ensure all of the sugar is completely dissolved), then turn the heat off,
Scoop out the lime peels and discard them, you don’t want them to land in your frosting
Then start to the beat the egg whites at high speed again and very slowly start to add the syrup,
Add a few tablespoons of the syrup at a time, set the syrup aside and make sure to beat the egg whites well by rotating the bowl,
Then continue to add the syrup slowly,
Add a little at a time then stop and continue to beat and rotate the bowl,
Continue this process until you’ve added all of the syrup, (It’s fine if you have a small amount left over)
Continue to beat, the frosting will get thick and stiff,
After adding the syrup, add 1 tsp of white vanilla,
Beat for a few minutes making sure to get good contact with the bottom and the sides of the bowl so that all of the frosting is thoroughly mixed, then turn the mixer off and lift the blades. You should see some stiff peaks and the frosting will be thick and smooth. You can also stick a clean dry spoon in and give it a taste. (ALWAYS use DRY utensils when working with frosting)
Now, let’s frost the cake!
The easiest tool to use to frost the cake is the frosting spatula,
Again, make sure the spatula is clean and DRY. Take a generous amount of frosting with the spatula and start to spread it over the cake,
One tip I can tell you is to use ALOT of frosting and pack it onto the cake, it’s the best method to avoid seeing crumbs on the frosting. When you use small dollops and smear it on the cake, they tend to get full of crumbs.
After covering the cake with the frosting, just smooth out the frosting the best you can (using a rotating stand is easier but not necessary), it will never be perfect.
Another tip, when coloring the frosting, use a toothpick to slowly add the food coloring to the frosting (you will probably have to use several toothpicks),
Add small amounts at a time until you get the shade of color you desire, a little goes a long way,
Remember, you can always add but you cannot subtract food coloring,
Use a clean dry spatula to scrap the bowl to make sure to get all of the frosting colored,
When all of the frosting is colored, add it to a decorating bag (you can find those in craft stores or stores like Walmart and Target) with the tip of your choice, then I suggest you practice a little on a plate or aluminum foil before you start to decorate your cake,
After practicing, get creative and see what your decorating skills are capable off,
Here is a sample of one of the cakes I decorated:
Not the prettiest, but it was very tasty and I was very proud of it!
Keep in mind when you slice into this cake, the caramel will start to drip down the sides, and it will be heavenly! YUM!
Now go on and bake yourself a Dominican cake, it will be worth the labor, I promise!