Although Argentines possess a tremendous sweet tooth and love of baked goods, Argentina doesn’t have a strong baking tradition. Instead, when a craving for something sweet strikes, people here tend to run to the neighborhood bakery to get their fix. Many also go for the “semi-homemade” approach using commercially-made, pre-packaged bizcochuelos or cakes ready to be split into layers and slathered in a combination of dulce de leche, sweetened whipped cream, chocolate and/or fruit. These pre-made cakes seem to enjoy great success here in Argentina, more so even than box mixes.
Despite the trend toward convenience when it comes to preparing desserts, some Argentine home bakers are willing to fire up the oven to turn out a bizcochuelo the old-fashioned way. Technically, a true bizcochuelo is a sponge cake, which contains little in the way of fat and has a light, airy texture; however, I’ve noticed that many cakes referred to as bizcochuelos in Argentina are actually closer to a classic vanilla or yellow cake.
A bizcochuelo on its own doesn’t say much, but a filling thick with rich dulce de leche, crunchy meringue, juicy peaches and pillowy mounds of whipped cream elevates this simple layer cake, whether store-bought or homemade, to a dessert truly worth getting excited about.
Torta de Durazno, Crema Chantilly y Dulce de Leche | Peaches and Cream Cake with Dulce de Leche
Two 9-inch round classic yellow cakes or sponge cakes [use your favorite recipe]
1¾ cups whipping cream
1½ Tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup dulce de leche repostero [this type of dulce de leche is thicker and primarily used as a filling for desserts – substitute regular dulce de leche if unavailable]
1 cup drained, diced canned peaches plus peach slices for decoration [reserve liquid for brushing cake, if desired]
10-15 meringue cookies, broken into large pieces
For the layer cakes:
Prepare two 9-inch round cakes according to your preferred recipe. While the cake layers are cooling, prepare the whipped cream. Allow the layers to completely cool before assembling the cake.
For the sweetened whipped cream:
In a large bowl, add the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla. [Make sure the bowl and whisk are chilled to achieve maximum volume.] Beat the mixture until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Assemble the cake:
Place the first cake layer onto a serving plate. If desired, lightly brush the cake with syrup from the peaches [highly recommended if using a sponge cake recipe, as these cakes tend to be drier than yellow cakes]. Top the first cake layer with dulce de leche, spreading to the edges. Arrange the diced peaches over the dulce de leche. Spread half of the sweetened whipped cream over the peaches, and then top with pieces of meringue. Gently place the other cake layer on the whipped cream and meringue. If desired, lightly brush the top cake layer with syrup from the peaches. Spread the remaining whipped cream over top of the cake. Arrange reserved peach slices on top of cake. Chill for a few hours prior to serving to allow the cake to settle. Store leftover cake in the refrigerator.