On tiny bits of bravery and Tres Leches Cake

I guess it’s time to just come out with it.

I’ve been alluding to some big changes that are happening in my life for a little while now, and it’s pretty much official now.

In a couple of weeks, I will be starting a one year term position as the Coordinator of the Volunteer Doula Program in Halifax.  

Tres Leches Cake | www.purplehousecafe.com

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for a little while knows that I could never have turned down this opportunity.  I’ve been a doula for over five years, and a lactation educator for nearly a year.  The work that I do with birthing mothers and their families is the most meaningful work I’ve ever done, and I feel so fortunate every day that I stumbled my way into the birth community, and honoured by the families that choose to have me support them.

Tres Leches Cake | www.purplehousecafe.com

Nevertheless, the decision to take on this role was one that required a tiny bit of bravery on my part.  It will mean a lifestyle change for me and my family; it will signal a serious uptick in the sheer amount of work I will have to do in a given day – and now including on-call duties.  I wonder what will happen to the career trajectory I have been on since graduating a few years ago with my Masters in Health Promotion and getting a job with the Nova Scotia government.  

What I do know for sure is that this is what following my passion feels like.  I need to see what it feels like to spend my days not at a desk with a calendar full of meetings to plan meetings, but rather working with doulas and birthing moms, being out in the community and teaming up with other birth professionals to provide an excellent service to families.  What I hope for is a year of big learning.  

Tres Leches Cake | www.purplehousecafe.com

Do you know what else requires a tiny bit of bravery?  Making a cake you’ve never made before and bringing it to an office function, not knowing what it tastes like, or even what it’s supposed to taste like.  My mom, who spends her winters in Mexico with my dad, sent me a can of Mexican evaporated milk (which, I can now venture, is not a heck of a lot different than what I can buy in the store here), telling me that I just had to make a Tres Leches Cake.  That it was the best cake she’d ever tasted.

Tres Leches Cake | www.purplehousecafe.com

This cake did indeed require a tiny bit of bravery on my part, but it was well worth the risk.  This cake is pretty simple to put together, and literally oozes with creaminess.  It’s fresh, light and sweet, and is good for building courage.


Tres Leches Cake
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  1. For the cake -
  2. 1 cup all purpose white flour
  3. 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1/4 tsp. salt
  5. 5 eggs
  6. 1 cup white sugar
  7. 1 tsp. vanilla
  8. 1/3 cup milk
  9. 1 can evaporated milk
  10. 1 can condensed milk
  11. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  12. For the topping -
  13. 2 cups whipping cream
  14. 3 tbsp. sugar
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease two 9" cake pans. (you could use a 9x13 pan too). I just piled the two cakes on top of each other (with no filling, but you could use filling) to achieve the shape of cake I was going for.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cups of the sugar until they are light yellow. Add in the milk and vanilla and stir until just combined. Add this mixture into the flour mixture and stir until incorporated.
  4. Using your electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high until they begin to form soft peaks. Slowly incorporate the rest of the sugar while beating on medium speed. Continue to beat until the eggs have stiffened.
  5. Fold the egg mixture into the batter gently until just combined. Pour into your baking pan and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Turn the cake out onto a serving dish and allow to cool. In the meantime, whisk together the condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream in a pitcher. When the cake is cool, pierce the surface all over with a fork and slowly pour the three-milk mixture over the cake, allowing it to soak in. You might not use this entire mixture before the cake seems saturated and milk pools slightly on the serving dish.
  7. Allow the cake to absorb the milk for 30 minutes. In the meantime, beat the heavy cream and sugar together until stiff to make the whipped topping for the cake.
  8. Spread the whipped topping all over the cake and top with fresh fruit.
  9. Enjoy!
Purple House Café https://www.purplehousecafe.com/

12 comments on “On tiny bits of bravery and Tres Leches Cake

    • Thanks Beth!!! It was a really awesome cake….and my skills! My skills are improving!!!

  1. Congrats Jessie! We will certainly miss you in the dept, but the program will be lucky to have you. And the cake looks yummy too!! 🙂

    • Thanks Lan! It was such (such!) an awesome cake! Although it could totally not be made dairy-free….

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