Tres Leches Cake Recipe

A light sponge cake soaked in a sweet combination of three milks (a tribute to the name), served with whipped cream and berries, this tres leches cake is to die for.

A few of my viewers on Youtube have requested a tres leches cake recipe. Ironically, tres leches cake and I have been acquainted for quite some time now.

We were introduced over a decade ago, actually.

tres leches cake with whipped cream and fruit

A lot of birthdays in our family take place around this time, and we would spend many of our summers in the US with my aunt, who used to live in Colorado. On one occasion, I can’t remember whose birthday it was, but this cake was ordered from a Safeway. It was a layer cake, with had swirls of whipped cream, a ridged edge, and plenty of strawberries.

I liked it so much that I was determined to make a version at home when I returned from my holiday. My first attempts weren’t great, it was probably also around the time I started baking. And I’m not sure what went wrong, but the cake was about 1 cm tall, it had shrunk disastrously, and tasted like all the air had been squeezed out of the batter. Blah.

A few years ago I found Alton Brown’s recipe, but I’ve made some modifications to lighten it up a bit. When we went to visit my aunt again, I made this cake for her birthday and it was a hit. I’ve also made it for my birthday, several times, in fact. I found a way to do it while I was in university, using our microwave-that-turns-into-an-oven.

tres leches cake with whipped cream and fruit

Soaked in condensed milk, evaporated milk and regular milk, this cake is as sweet, and rich as it gets. It’s pure heaven. You’ll want to serve it with the cream (the 4th milk, actually) and fresh fruit to lighten it up, that’s why it’s so nice during the summertime.

tres leches cake with whipped cream and fruit

There’s not that much that can go wrong here, just make sure to follow the recipe as it’s written, make sure your baking powder is fresh and if possible I’d also recommend using the gram measurements, they’re far more accurate than the cups.

On another note, Alton Brown calls for cake flour, but I’ve made this recipe with all-purpose flour and it works fine. What’s the difference, you wonder? Well, cake flour has less protein content, resulting in a lighter crumb. You can very easily make a substitute at home by replacing part of the flour with cornstarch.

The ratio is: for every cup of flour, remove 2 tbsp and replace it with 2 tbsp of cornstarch.

Hope you like this one as much as I do!

tres leches cake with whipped cream and fruit

Tres Leches Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:
  • 100 g (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 200 g (just under 1 cup) granulated sugar (I have even made this recipe with 3/4 cup sugar, 175g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 5 eggs
  • 200 g (1-1/2 cups) flour (all-purpose works fine, but cake flour is best, see note*)
For the milk mixture:
  • 1 can (1-1/2 cups, 375mL) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (390 g) condensed milk
  • 250mL (1 cup) whole milk
For the topping:
  • 375 mL (1 ½ cups) heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • fresh fruit, to serve

Directions:

  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F. Grease a baking dish (about 26cm/10 inches, or a 9x13 inch dish) with butter. You can also line the bottom with parchment paper to prevent it from sticking.
  2. Next, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Once the mixture is well-combined, pour in 2 tsp of vanilla extract, along with 5 whole eggs. You can mix the batter after each egg is added to incorporate them completely. I like to crack the eggs in a separate bowl, then add them to the mixture to prevent eggshells from coming in.
  4. This is where you can beat as much air in to the mixture as possible.
  5. Once the eggs are incorporated into the batter, add in ½ tsp of salt, and 1 tsp of baking powder.
  6. And finally, whisk in the flour. You can also whisk the salt and baking powder with the flour and add those together. If you have cake flour, you’ll want to use that, but you can also make your own, see the note below.
  7. When the flour is just incorporated, pour the batter into the prepared dish.
  8. Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, then let it cool for around 30 min.
  9. Then prick the cake with a fork or toothpick evenly, with as many holes as possible, this will help the cake absorb the milks.
  10. To make the milk mixture, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk and milk together until smooth and well-incorporated.
  11. Pour the mixture over the cake, and let the cake absorb it. This will take a few hours, you can leave the cake in the fridge, as it's best served cold. I like to chill the cake overnight, but a couple of hours will suffice.
  12. Once the cake has absorbed all the liquid and it's nice and cold, it's ready to serve
  13. To make the whipped cream, whisk the cream with the sugar and vanilla until you get some nice soft peaks (if you lift the beater, the cream should form a peak). This takes around 10-15 minutes by hand, but will be quick with an electric mixer. At this stage stop, as if you over-beat, the mixture will separate (and you'll end up with butter!)
  14. Lather the freshly whipped cream on top of the cake, then garnish the cake with fresh fruit (and if you have some, with dulce de leche!)
  15. This cake keeps well for several days in the fridge, but the cream and fruit should really be served fresh.
To make your own cake flour, take 3 tbsp out of the total measured amount (1-1/2 cups), and replace it with 3 tbsp of cornstarch. Mix the ingredients well. Basically, as a rule of thumb, for each cup of flour, you'll need to remove 2 tbsp and replace it with 2 tbsp of cornstarch.

tres leches cake with whipped cream and fruit

tres leches cake with whipped cream and fruit