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Torta Maria Luisa con poleada (Maria Luisa sweet bread with vanilla custard)

María Luisa pan dulce

Growing up in a latin household meant you were not deprived of "pan dulce" or sweet bread. It's enjoyed in the morning or evenings with a cup of hot coffee or hot chocolate, it makes for a treat on chilly days. In El Salvador "el pan nunca puede faltar" which translates to "bread can never be missing," so of course the first recipe I make from The SalviSoul Cookbook is Maria Luisa sweet bread!

The SalviSoul Cookbook

What is Maria Luisa?

Maria Luisa is a sweet bread made out of two cake layers, filled with vanilla custard in between and topped with a sweet glaze. Each bite is soft and heavenly, specially when served freshly baked or slightly warm. In each bite you'll get a bit of airy cinnamon cake with a creamy luscious filling as the sugar toppings melts in your mouth.

How to make pan Maria Luisa?

There are three parts to make Maria Luisa. First, make the Poleada so that it cools down a bit while you make the cake batter. While the cake bakes, prepare the glaze and sugar to top it off. Here are some tips to help make this a smooth process.

  1. Prepare all the measurement for each ingredient for each part of the process. Especially for the custard/poleada because this is a time and temperature sensitive process. I use these small containers for ingredients.

  2. Take out your butter and eggs 30 mins before you start so it softens.

  3. Sift your flour for the cake batter before you start so it's ready to go.

Below is the recipe and instructions from Karla's cookbook: The SalviSoul Cookbook along with a bit of my experience as i made it. The optional ingredients are not on the SalviSoul recipe, they were added by me, so i leave it up to you to add it if you desire.

Tools and supplies for this recipe


Custard/Poleada: 10 mins to make

  • 3 cups milk

  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar (Decrease this to 4 tbsp if you'd prefer the poleada less sweat)

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 6 tbsp cornstarch

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (Optional)

Cake batter: 10 mins to prepare, 45-1 hour to bake depending on your oven.

  • 16 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature

  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar (Decrease to one cup if you'd prefer the cake less sweat)

  • 4 eggs, at room temperature

  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted

  • 1 tbsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1-1/4 cups milk, plus more as needed

  • 1 tsp crushed cinnamon stick or ground cinnamo

Toppings: Takes two minutes to prepare

Optional, if you don't want it to be too sweat cut the portions in half for a light drizzle topping.

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar - powder sugar

  • 1/4 cups milk

  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • 2 drops of red food coloring



  1. Place a medium pot over low to medium heat. Add 2 1/2 cups of the milk, the sugar, cinammon, butter and vanilla extract and let it scald. This takes about 5-7 minutes depending on your stove and you will know it's scarlding because little bubbles will form around the edge of the pan. The mixture should register at about 180 degrees F.

  2. While the milk gets to that point in a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the cornstarch, whisk until the conrstarch fully dissolves. Add the eggs and whisk again until well combined into a paste.

  3. Once the milk mixture in the pot has scalded, turn down the heat to low and, whisk 1/2 cup of it to the cornstarch and egg mixture to temper it. Then slowly whisk in the cornstarch and egg mix into the scalded milk in your pot. Keep whisking until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat once it has a creamy consistency, keep in mind that as it cools down it will become more solid. You don't want it to be too solid or too liquid.

  4. Once you remove from the heat, remove the cinamon stick and top with wax paper to prevent the top layer to dry out. Let it cool down while we make the cake batter.

Cake batter:

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the over and preheat the over to 350F. Please keep in mind that this will depend on your oven. My over is about 20 years old antique and much smaller than standard ovens nowadays, so i placed my temperature at 250F otherwise the top of my cake would have browned before the inside was cooked.

  2. Prepare your chosen baking dish, coat it with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. This recipe is perfect for a 13 by 9-inch pan but I being the rebel that i am opted for a heart shapped pan. Be a rebel, ha!

  3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachement OR in a large bowl with a hand mixer, combine the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. As you add each of the following ingredients, scrape the sides of the mixing bowl.

  4. Incorporate the eggs one by one on low speed until fully combined.

  5. In a seperate large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture into the mixing bowl and mix on medium speed. I recommend to fold the flour into the mixing bowl to avoid the flour from flying everywhere. Promise you it's not fun. once it's folded in, proceed to mix on medium speed.

  6. Lastly, add in the milk and cinnamon and mix on medium speed until it looks like pancake batter.

Heart Shaped Maria Luisa

Assembly to bake:

You have two options to assemble for baking:

  • Bake the cake first and then cut in half, then layer it with the custard/poleada in the middle

  • OR bake it together. This means you will place half of the cake batter, then the custard/poleada and then the second half of the cake batter.

The taste will be the same for both techniques!

  1. Bake until the outside is golden brown and in the inside is fully baked, for me that was about 45mins to an hour. I opted for the second assembly option but my poleada sunk to the bottom because i left it too thick.

  2. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for about 15-30 mins.

Glaze & Pink Sugar:

  1. Mix the 1/4 cup of milk with the conffectioners sugar. Whisk until it's fully combined and becomes a thick glaze.

  2. in a seperate contorainer mix the sugar and the food coloring. Mix it with a fork until the sugar has taken on the pink color!

  3. Add the glaze to the top of the cooled cake and spread it out evenly to your desire.

  4. Sprinkle the sugar on top!

This is by far the best torta de Maria Luisa that i've had, it was soft and full of flavor. If you make it be sure to tag @FLOURISHWITHG on social media. As always, i hope that it fills your heart and tummy with love.



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