Pizza Lab #31: Tres Leches Pizza
We’ve come up with some crazy crossovers for our pizzas before. This pizza maybe one of the strangest. But strange doesn’t mean bad! The inspiration for this pizza was tres leches cake. “Tres leches” means “three milks” in Spanish, so as you can imagine, three milks are involved in the making of the cake. Traditional tres leches cake is composed of a sponge cake soaked in a combination of evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream after baking. Yet despite this, when done correctly the cake is still light and airy, not soggy. I’m not entirely sure of the origins of the cake, but I imagine someone dipping cookies into milk was involved somewhere, since it’s a similar concept.
How we came up with the idea for this pizza I’m not entirely sure; this was mostly Erik’s idea. But we both brainstormed out the details and execution. Obviously we couldn’t just have a mostly naked pizza that’d been soaked in milk. A pizza needs toppings. The original plan was to top it with dulce de leche. Dulce de leche is a caramel like sauce made from condensed milk. This plan eventually changed though, because despite the fact that pre-made, canned dulce de leche is a thing that exists, we could not find any in stores near us. And making it from scratch takes at least 2 hours, and quite frankly, we just didn’t have the time to babysit cans of milk for that long. So we ultimately ended up on plan B, which was to use our go-to caramel sauce recipe, which takes about 5 minutes to make. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself though…
In addition to strangeness of inspiration, this may also be one of the stranger pizzas we’ve made in terms of execution. A lot of our dessert pizzas have their crust par-baked, but I believe this is the first where it was fully cooked before any toppings were added. But that is what we did. We brushed it down with butter, sprinkled some cinnamon sugar along the outer crust, and then baked it in the oven until done.
Once it was cooled we poked a bunch of holes in it using forks to help aid in milk absorption. Strangely enough, the hole poking was one of the hardest parts of this pizza. Since bread dough is so much springier than cakes the holes kept shrinking back up almost immediately. But we did the best we could. Then it was time to pour on the milk mix. Since the pizza is a lot thinner than most cakes we halved a standard tres leches cake recipe in terms of the milk. Then it was time to put our pizza in the fridge for a couple of hours and let it absorb all that liquid goodness. I bet that’s a sentence you never thought you’d read about a pizza.
Once our pizza absorbed all the milk it was going to take in (and we had played numerous Smash Brothers battles) it was time to finish it up.
We sprinkled a bit of dry horchata mix (you can read up a bit on what horchata is here) on top and then poured on the caramel sauce. We put the pizza back in the oven for a few minutes just to warm up the crust a bit.
Then finally we added some dollops of whipped cream.
So…what’s it like eating a pizza that’s been soaked in milk? I suppose the main downfall of this pizza is that it had to be eaten with a knife and fork. While it wasn’t soggy per se, it still lacked the usual pizza structure that normally allows it to be eaten with just the hands. But flavor-wise the pizza was good! It was creamy and sweet and definitely a new pizza experience. In fact this pizza was actually even better the next day as leftovers. The dough had had even more time to fully absorb the milk and the flavor. This may be the first pizza I’d recommend making a day in advance before serving. (Though the whipped cream can be added right before).