The TaytoRiCo Challenge: Potato Baba au Tres Leches

taytorico 005Well, that's what I'm calling it, anyway.  Back when we first started discussing the TaytoRiCo extravaganza, I had a vision of making a lovely, smooth baked custard.  I actually did make one a couple of weeks ago with the Ri and the Co.  It was extremely good, but I couldn't think of a way to get the Tayto part in there without messing with the texture.  So, next I decided to make a kind of shortbread crust, similar to the Irish shortbread I made for St. Patrick's Day.  I'd just blind bake those little puppies, fill them with some of the custard mix, et voila: a spectacular TaytoRiCo Success.  Not so much.  The crust just kinda got gummy, so I ended up eating the custardy guts out of all the little tarts and tossing the shortbread gum crust.  I'm not proud, but that's what happened.

Then, I thought, "Hey!  I'll make a bread-ish crust and bake the custard in that, kinda like an apfelkasskuchen.  'Cept I figured the bread, needing to be refrigerated on account of the custard filling, would get dry and stupid.  So, finally, I began thinking along the lines of Tres Leches.  You know, the cake that's soaked in sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream.  How bad could that be, right?  But I was Afeerd that my cake, which I was going to use potato starch in, would get all Disintegratey and Dumb.  I was beginning to think that I would shoot down all of my ideas--I am a mass of neuroses, apparently.  Just when I began to reach for the phone to set up a Counseling Appointment, I thought of a Baba. Usually an enriched bread-based cake soaked in a rum syrup.  (Yay--I'm magically Not Insane).  Because I felt badly for the potato and didn't think it was fair that the only way it got to come to the party was in the form of starch.  Which doesn't taste like potato. And what's the point of using a Key Challenge Ingredient if it doesn't add flavor? So, take a look at what I finally came up with:

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This wild, FrankenBread/cake is completely my own invention, as far as I know.  This was really Test Numero Uno, and as a starting point, it was very good.  After making it, I can think of a few ways to improve its structural integrity and flavor profile, so I'll let you know all about that at the end.  Right now, I'm just going to tell you what I did, for better or for worse.  Maybe this craziness will inspire you to go off the beaten path--a little or a lot--and create something fun and tasty, TaytoRiCo or otherwise!

First, the components:

Potato Bread

  • 1 medium starchy potato--I used a Yukon Gold
  • kosher salt (for the potato cooking water.  I didn't need to add any salt at all to the dough--you might, though, depending on how much salt you put in your water.  Taste your dough and add some salt only if necessary)
  • about 1 tablespoon sugar
  • about 1 tablespoon dried yeast
  • coconut water plus potato cooking water to equal 1 cup
  • 3 oz (6 tablespoons or 3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • enough all purpose flour (I used King Arthur) to make a soft dough--I didn't measure this, sorry.  I just kept adding until I liked the texture.

Cut the potato into even chunks.  Bring to a boil in salted water and then simmer until cooked through.  Pour off and reserve the potato cooking water.  Let potatoes dry on the stove top for a few minutes, then peel off the skins--they should slip right off.  You can peel the potato first, but I left the skins on for more flavor.

Stab a coconut in the eye and drain out the water through a fine mesh strainer into a liquid measure.  Consider yelling something Barbaric and Primal, like "Wolverine!" Add enough of the reserved potato water to equal one cup.

In your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the warm potato and butter until well combined and smooth.

Add the sugar, eggs, yeast, coconut water mixture (Wolverine!) and about 2 cups of flour and mix until you have a smooth batter.

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Switch to the dough hook, and with the mixer on medium-low, add flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until you have a nice, soft dough.  It will stick in the bottom of the mixer bowl and you'll probably have some dough stuck to the sides, as well.  When you handle the dough, make sure to spray your hands with pan spray or rub some vegetable oil on them to keep the dough from sticking.  This will also keep you from adding too much flour, which will make your bread dense.  And that's not what we want.

Knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes.  If making by hand, use a bench knife to help you turn the dough and scrape it off the counter.  Resist the urge to keep adding a bunch of flour.

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When the dough is ready, it will be very smooth, very extensible (stretchy), slumpy and sticky.  But, you'll still be able to do the window pane test, as long as your hands are oiled.

Gather the dough into a smooth bowl and let it rise in an oiled bowl until doubled in size.  Yeast really love the sugars in potato, and apparently in coconut water, too, so it will be an Impressive Rise.

Once the dough has risen, press out all the gas bubbles (oil those hands).  Form into a smooth ball again, and press it into a 10"x3" spring form pan.

Bake at 350F in the bottom third of the oven until Hugely Risen (my guy looked like some kind of Jiffy Pop run amok in the oven), golden brown and at an internal temperature of about 200F, give or take a degree or two. Since I baked the whole thing at once, this took almost an hour, and I ended up covering him with foil during the last 20 minutes so he wouldn't get too dark.

taytorico 012 (2)That guy is crazy-big, right?!

Let cool to warm.

Tres Leches Mixture

  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 1 cup coconut milk (not cream of coconut)
  • about 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)

Whisk everything together until well combined.

Coconut-Lime "Curd"
Curd goes in quotation marks because this isn't a true curd since it doesn't contain eggs.  It's really just a potato starch-thickened pudding.

  • juice of three limes (mine weren't very juicy, so probably about 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • coconut milk (not cream of coconut) to equal 1 1/2 cups of liquid
  • heavy pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar, or to taste--you want it to be fairly tangy
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons potato starch

Whisk everything together in a medium sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and let boil for about a minute.  Keep warm.

Whipped Coconut Cream Topping (make 1 cup of cream's worth at a time)

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • heavy pinch or two of salt
  • sugar, to taste
  • about 1/3 cup coconut milk

Whip cream to medium peaks, adding sugar gradually.  Toss in the salt.

Add the coconut milk, a little at a time, and whip to stiff peaks.  Taste before you get there and add a little more coconut milk, salt and/or sugar, if necessary.

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  • shredded coconut--I got fancy-schmancy coconut from King Arthur all Special for this challenge, but use whatever.

Spread on a sheet pan and place about 8" from your broiler element.  Broil on low (if you have the option), one minute at a time, stirring every minute, until your coconut is a lovely golden brown.  Do not walk away.  Set aside.

Putting It All Together (Round 1)

taytorico 014 (2)If you look carefully, you can see the steam rising off of that puppy. Don't do what I did. Make sure to cool the bread before cutting.

Cool the bread to warm.  Cut off the domed top of the bread and snack on it over the course of ten minutes the evening.

Remove the sides of the spring form pan and slice the remaining bread in half horizontally.  Set the top piece aside.

Leave the bottom piece in the pan and reattach the sides.  Poke a plethora of holes in the bread with a skewer, then pour half of the tres leches mixture over the bread, tilting the pan to make sure it gets all over.  Let soak in until absorbed.

Pour the coconut-lime "curd" evenly over the bottom layer.  Spread with an offset spatula.

Top the curd with the other half of the bread.  Poke holes in him, too, and then pour the rest of the tres leches mix over the bread.  My two-layers-plus-curd was about an inch or so taller than the sides of the pan, so if yours is, too, be careful not to make Too Much of a mess.

Whip up the first half of the coconut cream and spread over the top of your FrankenBread.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the sides of the spring form pan, whip up the other half of the coconut cream and smoothly ice the sides.
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Press toasted coconut around the sides and liberally sprinkle it on top of your cake.

Slice and serve.


  1. The Beloved and I both enjoyed this.  It definitely benefited from the coconut-lime curd as the rest is very creamy and subtle.  The acid in the lime was a nice counterpoint to the creamy-fattiness of the rest.
  2. We thought that the bottom was a little hard to cut through.  I think I have a fix for that.
  3. The center of the bread kind of sunk in--maybe you can tell in the pictures.  This is because I sliced the dome off while the cake was still hot and the structure wasn't completely set up.  Being baked in such a large pan, the sides couldn't hold up the center once its head was cut off.  The good part was that I filled that basin with whipped coconut cream.  Nice:)
  4. Coconut whipped cream is Amazing.  If you take nothing else away from this post, at least make this cream.  Yum.

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How I Would Make It Next Time

  1. After the first rise, divide the dough into thirds, or at least in half.  One half (or two thirds) bake as sandwich bread or burger buns (it was really, Really good).  Roll the other portion into a smooth rope, form it into a ring and then press it into a tube pan or Bundt-type pan, let it rise a second time and then bake.
  2. Add lime juice to the tres leches to perk up the flavor, especially if you don't want to make the coconut-lime "curd."  You could also make straight-up lime curd, if you want.  I didn't want to add any more eggs since the dessert was rich enough (more than rich enough) to begin with.
  3. Pour the tres leches avec lime mixture over your skewered Bundt cake.  Let it hang out in the fridge overnight, then de-pan and let any excess tres leches mix drip out onto some waxed paper or something.
  4. Ice the whole thing with the whipped coconut cream and top with toasted coconut.

Wowie, that was quite the challenge!  Thanks to my TaytoRiCo-founders, @DailySpud and @TangledNoodle. I love the organic way this challenge came about! And thanks to everyone else who decided to jump on the #TaytoRiCo bandwagon.  I'll be compiling the round-up post tomorrow, and I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!

Have a lovely day!


  1. says

    I must admit, I was a little worried when I saw the hammer in the first picture – you means business, lady! What an epic – mine seems very restrained in comparison 🙂 And I am definitely trying that coconut whipped cream, seeing as I have a rather significant amount of coconutty left overs on my hands…

    • says

      The whole thing was worth the coconut cream, but the potato bread is very good too. Will def make that for rolls or sammich bread at some point. I think I might need to learn some restraint. Not quite sure how we’re supposed to eat that big old thing! 😆

  2. says

    Wow, I’d never have guessed that’s what you had planned! It looks fabulous. I’m especially intrigued by the lime coconut “curd.” Wow, that sounds delicious!

    • says

      Thanks, Elle! 🙂 The curd was very simple and yummy–no real measuring, I just squeezed limes into a liquid measure and topped off w/coconut milk to 1 1/2 cups. Sugar to taste, 1 1/2T potato starch (I’d use cornstarch in real life, I think, for a smoother texture), pinch of salt. About 5 minutes whisking madly over high heat. Good to go.

  3. says

    This is one monster cake that I would not mind having stomp all over me!! Its AWESOMENESS overwhelms me. You had this for breakfast? Sign me up!

    Thank you many, many times over for hosting #TaytoRiCo – it’s been great fun, even if I’ve proven to be a laggard yet again! Have another slice of FrankenCake while I prep my post… 8-D

  4. says

    BRILLIANT! While I didn’t pick up the torch, my brain ran with puddings and custards. A Tres leches cake/bread/ monster…. is a wonderful way to mix in all the flavors. 🙂 Thank you for sharing that with all of us.

    • says

      Glad you enjoyed the shenanigans, MJ! And the baked custard I made w/just coconut milk, lime juice, SCM, egg and a pinch of salt was lovely. I’ll definitely be making that again!

  5. Jane Field says

    That looks monumental, and filled with all kinds of goodness. Must have been good for many snackings. You are AWESOME.. Love, Mom


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