The génoise cake layer is the most challenging part of a tres leches cake. Once that’s in hand, you can pretty much just relax and have fun. I find the best finished cakes happen when you have the layers and any time-consuming condiments completed at least a day ahead of time. If you can arrange it so you’re making your cake on a weekend, so much the better. If you ask the wife when I’m at my happiest, she’ll tell you it’s when I have a free Saturday afternoon in front of me, an open beer and cake to build.
Start by peeling the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake.
I like to “top” the cake by just shaving off the top crust with a serrated knife. It really helps the milk “syrup” soak in. It also squares the edges nicely. You need not get every last bit of it off. Keep those trimmings for a snack.
Lots of home bakers fear handling and/or flipping cake layers. A couple of waxed 8″ cake circles make it child’s play.
Stir together your milks and dulce de leche.
Remove one of the circles and paint half the “syrup” on slowly. It may take ten minutes or so for it all to soak in.
Replace the circle and flip the cake over.
Remove the bottom circle and paint on the rest of the syrup. You might not need all of it.
How do you know when to stop? When the milk mixture puddles on the cake and doesn’t soak in anymore. That or it starts leaking out the bottom. Then you know the cake is fully saturated.
Now for the frosting. Pour the cold cream into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip.
Whip to soft peaks, add the sugar…
…and the Grand Marnier and whip it to stiff peaks, maybe 20 seconds more
Now then, some cake frosting jobs call for a fancy revolving stand. Others call for cans.
Why cans? Because they allow you to reach all the narrow surfaces of a single layer cake with ease.
You can get as fancy as you’d like with the frosting. Some people like to pipe decorations onto a tres leches cake. Having zero piping skills, I just spread it on and serve. Works for me.