Tres Leches Cake Recipe – Got (Three) Milks?

Tres Leches Cake with Blueberries

This feature is sponsored by KitchenAid, who is just letting us play every day in the TasteSpotting kitchen with the full suite of stand mixer attachments.

I’m pretty sure that I’d stand a lot taller than 5’2″ today if I had been introduced to Tres Leches Cake during my childhood. Maybe even as late as my teenage years.

It Has Milk. So It Has to be Healthy.

If I had, I would have consumed enough milk, tres times normal even, to make me a towering…well, I’d still only be 5’2″.

Because let’s face it, as appealing-to-your-nutrition as “three milks” sounds, Tres Leches is a cake.

And not only a cake, but a cake soaked with — not just one, not two, but three — wholly, fully, fatty sugared sweetened milk and cream.

So maybe I’d be a towering 5’10” tall with all that milk.

But weigh 800 pounds.

Cinco de May…No? No, Not Really.

Tres Leches Cake is a popular dessert in Latin America and its origins are unknown. The cake isn’t really attributed to Mexico at all, but to Nicaragua, making it quite a stretch for us to add it as the finale to our Cinco de Mayo celebration. However, like Cinco de Mayo is for drinking margaritas, shooting tequila, and overindulging in chips and guacamole, we’ll take any excuse we can to bake this cake.

Even one as flimsy as “it might originate from Mexico” or “the milk will help make us grow taller.”

Tres Leches Cake - Batter + Baked
The “cake” part of Tres Leches Cake is your basic sponge a type of cake that relies entirely on eggs for leavening. After beating egg yolks and sugar, you have to beat egg whites into clouds, then fold them together. For this reason, I would not recommend making this cake without a stand mixer (or, if you hate double negatives, at the very least, we recommend an electric hand mixer). You also have to whip the topping, and if you do all of that by hand, you might be too beat to enjoy the came when it’s actually done.

“Too beat?” Yeah, we said that.
KitchenAid Wire Whisk with Whipped Cream
Once the cake is baked, you can either turn the cake out onto a rimmed serving platter (fancy!) or just leave the cake in the baking pan. We chose the latter guerilla-style mostly because we thought the cake would soak up more of the sweetened milk drowning in the deep end of a 9×13″ pan than exposed to the air on a flat platter. Though the pan is not as pretty for serving, who cares? It’s still a cake.

Though some cakes call for a meringue topping, we topped our cake with whipped cream, a choice that technically adds up to Quatro Leches Cake, but we’d rather not do the math.

We’ll just take another piece of Tres Leches Cake with fresh berries on a plate with high sides to catch the milk that will weep out of the cake.

If we were to ever actually let it sit uneaten on the plate long enough.

Tres Leches Cake - Whipped Cream Frosting

Tres Leches Cake Ingredients

for the cake:

6 large eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the Tres Leches:

1 14 ounce can evaporated milk
1 12 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream

for the topping:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar

Tres Leches Cake Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter and flour a 9×13″ baking pan.

In a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment, beat the 6 egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the beaten egg whites to a separate large bowl.

Change the attachment on the stand mixer to the paddle attachment. In the same mixer bowl (you don’t have to clean it out – they’re all eggs), beat the 6 egg yolks with the sugar at medium speed until pale yellow and thick, about 3 minutes. Stir in the milk and vanilla.

Sift together flour and baking powder, then add to the egg yolk and sugar mixture in stand mixer at low speed until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

With a spatula, gently fold in the beaten egg whites until fully incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until very lightly golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.

While cake is baking, whisk together evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. Set aside.

When cake is done, remove from oven and pierce cake all over with a cake tester, chopstick, skewer, or other thin stick. Slowly pour the entire “three milks” mixtures over the cake. Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight.

Whip heavy whipping cream with sugar. Spread over top of cake in pan. Garnish with fresh fruit to make yourself feel less guilty about its being such a deliciously naughty cake.

Cut cake into squares and serve on plates with high sides or shallow bowls (because the milk syrup will weep out).

Tres Leches Cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and kept covered and refrigerated.

Tres Leches Cake with Blueberries

Products We Used to Make Tres Leches Cake

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by Sarah J. Gim on May 3, 2010 · 5 comments

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca May 28, 2010 at 8:12 pm

tres leches is a must at my annual cinco de mayo party!! to make it even easier, i use a *gasp* box yellow cake mix. this year, i discovered that it really is important to thoroughly mix the three milks together before pouring over the cake, otherwise, the condensed milk just collects around the edges of the pan… still delicious tho!!


April @ Sweet Harvest June 4, 2010 at 8:06 am

Looks incredible!


MyLastBite June 4, 2010 at 11:14 am

LOVE the clean design (and want that tres leches cake now).


Lori June 4, 2010 at 7:11 pm

I have been wanting to make this cake. Damn, it looks good.


ravenouscouple June 12, 2010 at 2:42 pm

milk does a body and cake good. absolute favorite!


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