|For instance, the milk can be heatedunder pressure, of courseto 145 degrees for half an hour, or 161 degrees for 15 seconds. In the UHT, or ultra-high temperature method, the top temperature is a whopping 280 degrees, but it is held there only for two seconds, and then it is rapidly chilled.||
Since time is money, faster methods mean cheaper milk prices. But I feel
relatively certain that the low and slow method produces better flavor and body.
But that's just me.
Oh, the other process that most commercial milk goes through, homogenization.
[the doorbell rings]
Back in the days when guys in white uniforms and funny hats used to deliver milk right to your door ...
AB: [answering the door] Hi ya, Bud.
BUD: [holding flowers] Mr. Brown.
AB: [takes milk] Hey, see you tomorrow.
B: Yep. [leaves]
... used to have to take the milk and give it a really, really good shake before
you drank it. Why? I'll tell you.
Take a really close look at a bottle of milk, and ...
AB: LIGHTS! [the lights dim]
.. .you'll find a temporary emulsion of fat globules in a water base. Now since
fat is less dense than water, it should float to the top. But the glob-ettes are
so tiny that by themselves, they do not possess the necessary lift. Luckily,
there are special proteins that act like tugboats shoving globules together
into mega-blobs. That, like a big bundle of balloons, have quite a bit of lift.
This phenomenon is called "creaming". And in modern milk, it is prevented via
The process is simple: by using high pressure to spray milk through a very tiny orifice, the fats are broken up into such tiny microglobules, that they can never come back together again. The result? Stable, homogenized, and ever so slightly boring, milk.
[paints over a velvet unicorn "painting" with the effluent from a milk spray gun, admirs his work] Yeah. Now, because of its particular proteins, milk has actually been used as a paint base, since, well, the days when cave walls stood in for canvas. [looks at the painting] I think it's better. Yeah.
Most manufacturers today remove milk's natural fat, then add some back based on what type of milk (1%, whole, or ½ & ½) is desired.
Cake and milk: I just don't know if there's a finer culinary combo on the face of the planet. In fact, about the only thing you could do to improve this scenario is ... [takes a piece of cake, and shoves it into a glass of milk]. Yeah, that'll be good. Of course, there is, luckily, a neater and more flavorful way to pull this off. It is called Tres Leche cake, or Tres Leches cake, and it is as North American as apple pie.
AB: Thing, clean up! Aisle two!
[opens a cupboard full of viewfinders, begins looking through some of them] Now let's see here. Now Tres Leche cakeor cake with "three milks"has a fascinating history. It, uh ... well, here's what we know. The cuisines of colonial Central America ... [find the viewfinder he was looking for] ah, here we go, ... were heavily influenced by European baking ...
... and embraced
soaked cakes, like sopa dorada, a medieval classic containing toasted bread
and enough wine to keep it from going bad for, like, five years.
Fast forward to the mid 20th century. To help sell their products, a milk company in Mexico began printing traditional recipes on their cans of evaporated and sweetened condensed milk. One of the recipes is for pastel tres leche.
It was an instant sensation. And in this kitchen, it still is. [looking through a view finder] Oh yeah, let's dance.
A century ago the average cow gave 1,700 quarts of milk a year.
Modern cows produce more than 8,200 quarts.
|The final texture of this cake depends a great deal on baking to an even thickness. And that depends a good deal on your middle oven rack being level. Now if you find that your rack is askew, just use a little aluminum foil wedge to set things as straight as possible. While you're here, set your controls for 350.||
|Phase one of tres leche, construction, make a spongeor at least, a cake that acts like a sponge. Which is not to say that we are going to make ourselves a sponge cake. Start by creaming one stick of butterthat is, four ounces, unsaltedin your stand mixer. What do we mean by "cream"? Well, I mean, beat this stuff until it basically resembles, I don't know, really thick mayonnaise.||
4 Ounces Unsalted Butter,
|In the meantime, weigh out 6-3/4 ounces of cake flour. Add to that, one teaspoon of baking powder and half a teaspoon of salt. Whisk to combine.||
6 Ύ Ounces Cake Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
½ tsp. Kosher Salt
|[turning his attention to the butter] That looks good. Now, drop the speed to low, and gradually sprinkle in eight ounces of sugar; that's by weight, not volume. Should take about a minute to work this in. We really need each little sugar granule to punch a hole into the butter. If you rush this, the texture will be toast. There, that's what you want to see. Looks kind of like mashed potatoes.||8 Ounces Sugar|
|Next to the party: five eggs. Add one, and then wait until you don't see it at all in the batter any more before you introduce another. There. You want to create an emulsion, so you have to do it slowly. Why so many eggs? Well, although they do contain fat, by and large, eggs are builders; strengtheners, because of protein, and we are definitely going to need that strength. You'll see why.||5 Whole Eggs|
|Follow that with a teaspoon and a half of vanilla extract. There.||1½ tsp. Vanilla Extract|
Time to add the dry goods. You want to do
this in three installments, with the speed low enough so that you don't, you
know, throw flour all over the room. Nice and slow, please.
There. Kill the motor. Now it is time to pan up. Scoop your newborn goo into a well-lubed and floured 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Now there's a lot of egg in here, so it is going to be very, very sticky. Now once you've got that in, you're going to want to smooth it out the best you can so that it won't cook with a big old hump in the middle of it, which it will if you don't. I kind of like to spin the pan around as I go and just smooth it out. I like using a bowl scraper like this, but you can use just a plain old spatula if you want. There. Now I'll get that off [referring to some excess batter on his bowl scraper], and, uh, ahem, and ... [thinks about licking the batter off of his fingers, but decides no to] And this is ready to get into the oven now, so, here we go, and, uh, I know this doesn't look like enough batter for this pan, but keep in mind, there's more stuff going in here later on.
There. Now bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit, my very favorite cake doneness. Meanwhile, we'll assemble the second tier software.
This dessert may derive its body from cake, but its soul comes from "tres leche", three forms of milk. Two, of which, we find in the pantry. We require the services of one 12-ounce can of evaporated milk, and one 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk. Notice that the smaller one is heavier. What's up with that? Well, both evaporated and sweetened condensed milks have had close to 60% of their moisture removed.
|Now evaporated milk is reduced. It is homogenized. It has been fortified with various vitamins and minerals. And it is sealed and then sterilized, which is why it kind of has a brown color. That is caramelization.||
12-Ounce Can Evaporated
|Sweetened condensed milk is reduced and then mixed with an almost equal portion of sugar. The resulting goo is so sugary that it doesn't have to be sterilized to be preserved. It does, however, have to be coaxed out of the can a little bit. There.||
14-Ounces Can Sweetened
|Now, the third milk comes from the refrigerator. We need one cup of half-and-half. Now, at 10.5 to 18% butterfat, the half-and-half will not only provide additional liquid, it will also give us a nice, fresh, milky flavor that the canned milks just don't possess. So, stir this together and wait for your cake.||1 Cup Half & Half|
[opening the oven door] Well, certainly smells done, looks done, and feels done.
And it's temps done. Now, it is imperative that this cake cools for 30 minutes
on a rack before we move on to the next step.
Grab yourself four skewers and prodigiously perforate [the cake after it cools]. There.
|Now we are ready to bring on the dairy goods. Just pour it on. It is going to look like it will not all fit, but it will. There.||
Pour On Milk Only After Cake Has Cooled Completely!
Now obviously, trying to move this around at this point would be a bad idea. It's going to slosh all over the place. But wait about, eh, I don't know, three minutes, and it'll look like this [the milk is almost completely absorbed]. There, pretty cool, huh? Of course, the cake has only partially absorbed the dairy. To really take it in, now that's going to take a night ... [in German accent] in the cooler!
Cows that graze in pastures tend to give cream-colored milk.
Grain-fed cows produce white milk.
It's next day, and as you can see, no evidence of the milky mess remains. Time, now, for the final tres leche phase; the topping. Which takes advantage of the curious fact that milk products containing between 30 and 40% butterfat, like heavy cream, can be whipped into a stable froth. That is, a big fat pile of bubbles.
|Two cups of chilled heavy cream go in the work bowl of your favorite mixer, followed by eight ouncesone cupof sugar, and a little vanilla extract: let's say, about a teaspoon. Just do that by eye. Stir this on low speed at first, or, well, you will regret it. There. When it gets kind of thick and frothy like that, go ahead and turn the speed up to the high side of medium.||
2 Cups Heavy Cream
8 Ounces Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
There. Now after a few minutes, check the peaks. And the best way to do this
... [removes whisk, turns it upside down, peak just gently falls over] There. That's on the high side of medium. I'll definitely take
that. Better to underwhip a little than to overwhip. Perfect.
[spreads whipped cream over top of cake] There. Once you've got the whipped cream in place, you should refrigerate this two hours before serving. Ha ha! NOT! Nope, we dig in right away. I will say this. If there do happen to be leftovers, and I'm not saying that there will be, you should cover this with plastic wrap before stowing, because cream loves to soak up refrigerator flavors. Now excuse me. Ha ha ha ha. [spoons out a portion of the cake for himself].
|One of the unique aspects of milk is its sugar lactosea disaccharide, or double sugar, composed of one molecule each, glucose and galactose.||
Now, lactose is not as sweet on the tongue as sucrose, or table sugar, which can be a very good thing. For proof, we turn to another milky marvel from south of the border. Dulce de leche [presumably Spanish], a.k.a. dolce de leche [presumably Italian], which translates to "milk jam". Dulce de leche probably evolved not as a confection, but as a way of preserving milk without refrigeration in tropical climes.
|One quart of whole milk goes into a large saucepan, which we will put to medium heat. There we go. Next, 12 ounces by weightthat's one and a half cupsof sugar, and one vanilla bean. Now this guy we need to break in half, or strip out and seed. You can do that with a knife. But I think it's a lot easier to do with one of these little multitaskers. This is called a Bean Frencher. And we can just kind of stick that in one side, and pull it out the other, and instantly, we've got a nice, split, multipiece vanilla bean. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Stir until the sugar has melted.||
1 Quart Whole Milk
12 Ounces Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean
|The sugar has dissolved, so we're ready for the secret ingredient: one half teaspoon of baking soda which will increase the pH of the mixture. That will promote browning. It will also prevent the whey proteins from coagulating and forming nasty little grit in the final product.||½ tsp. Baking Soda|
Reduce the heat to low, and cook,
uncovered, for one hour, stirring occasionally. And don't be shocked if it foams
up a little. That's just the soda.
[after one hour] Time for the vanilla bean to leave the party. Cook it any more and it will start throwing out nasty flavors. Now we are going to continue to cook this, for, eh, one and a half to two more hours, or until the mixture reduces to a mere cup ... that's right, a cup ... and is the color of dark caramel.
[after one and a half to two hours] This looks good. [it now looks almost like chocolate syrup] I'm going to kill the heat. And just in case we've picked up any protein clumps, we will strain. And I like to put the strainer in this pot just to give it a little security. Got just a regular old Mason jar under there.
Refrigerate for up to four weeks. Truth is, it'll keep a lot longer than it'll last, if you get my meaning. Dolce de leche appears in hundreds of Latin American desserts such as alfajor, an Argentinean cookie, and teja, a Peruvian confection. But it's also great on ice cream, cake, or my favorite, a spoon. Looks and feels a lot like caramel, but the flavor is more complex and the sweetness less overwhelming. [tastes] Excuse me, I need a little private time.
Milk is good for putting out the fire of spicy foods
thanks to casein, which cleanses burning taste buds.
Since we have considered a culinary advantage of lactose, it's only right that we examine a curious biological disadvantage. Of issue, this bond holding the glucose and galactose molecules together. It is referred to as a beta-1,4-glycosidic linkage. Now, when we are babies, our intestines secrete an enzyme capable of breaking this bond, thus, freeing the sugars. But, only those of Northern European, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Masai descent retain this enzyme into adulthood. Now, say hi to my cameraman, Roman.
AB: Hey, Roman.
R: Hey. [waves to the camera] Hi.
AB: Now, here, I want you to taste our dolce de leche. Yeah, go ahead, go ahead.
R: [reluctantly takes a spoonful]
AB: Go ahead.
AB: How is it?
R: It's delicious.
LACTOSE MAN: [barging in] I'm Lactose Man!
AB: Why look, everybody, it's Lactose Man. You remember Lactose Man, don't you? [turns to Roman] I'll bet you remember Lactose Man.
R: [unenthusiastically] I remember Lactose Man.
LM: [punches Roman in the stomach, he falls over] I'm not a doctor, but that had to hurt. I'm Lactose Man.
AB: Yeah, um, you know, I'm betting that there is some either Southern European and/or Native American swimming around in Roman's gene pool.
R: [in some pain] Oh, curse my multicultural heritage. Oooohhhhh!
As the bacteria in Roman's colon chow down on that lactose, considerable discomfort results, due in large part to the rapid accumulation of, well ... [AB dons a gas mask, and, now yelling] Okay, people, let's clear this room!
Anthropologists have suggested that lactose tolerance
is mankind's most recent evolutionary mutation.
GUEST: Little Miss Muffet
Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider and sat down beside her
LITTLE MISS MUFFET: [screams and runs away]
[the camera reveals that AB is controlling the spider] Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh. And terrified Little Miss Muffet beyond the boundaries of sanity. Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah.
[Comes down, and finds Little Miss Muffet's bowl] Ahh, look. The poor dear left her curds and whey, which is dang close to cottage cheese. Which, besides being delicious, is a fine expression of milks two proteins, casein and whey.
|Although I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of skim milk, it does perform one particularly cool trick. Place a gallon of it in a large saucepan, and put over medium heat until a reliable thermal guessing stick indicates a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. At that point, turn off the heat, and stir in 3/4 of a cup of plain old white vinegar. In a couple of minutes, something strange and wonderful will happen.||
1 Gallon Skim Milk
Ύ Cup White Vinegar
Given half an hour or so, this milk will indeed curdle as the casein separates from the water containing the milk's other protein, whey. When it does, drain the whole mass in a colander lined with a tea towel, for five minutes. Then, gather up the edges of the towel and rinse the curd under cold running water for three to five minutes, kneading the curd until it is nice and cool.
|Then, just break it into little bits and pour on half a cup of half-and-half, sprinkle on, eh, a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half of kosher salt, and devour. I promise you, you'll never buy store bought cottage cheese again.||
½ Cup Half & Half +
1½ tsp. Kosher Salt
Well, you might, but you won't like it. [the spider drops on to AB, he screams and runs off]
LMM: [she crawls out from under the table, grins and begins to eat the cottage cheese]
[Little Miss Muffet smiles into the camera]
Ramon really is lactose intolerant.
Little Miss Muffet is played by Zoey Brown, Alton's daughter.
Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger
Last Edited on 08/27/2010