Cake meet Milk meet Cream meet Fruit. Could there be a more winning combination? Tres Leches Cake is a classic Mexican dessert that is different from anything else I have had. In it the cake itself literally gets soaked with a milk mixture. Top it with pillowy whipped cream and your favourite fruit and you have a dessert that is both light and indulgent . The Tres Leches cake is traditionally made in a dish and the milks are poured right on top so they absorb in without any spills. I love making them that way for a crowd but for a smaller group I far prefer the prettier round Tres Leches Cake.
It took some fiddling with a recipe that I found in one of my old aunty cooking classes cookbooks, you know the hand written and photocopied kind to get to this one. The cake was perfect as written but the liquid was tricky. Too little and it became a what leches cake and too much and it was a sopping mess. At this amount it is just right (if I do say so myself).
The Components of a Tres Leches Cake
The Tres Leches Cake is made of three parts. The first is a sponge cake which is made without any fat so that the cake is light and airy, perfect for soaking up all that milk. The second part is the three milk filling. The milk filling is a combination of whole milk, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. This mixture gets poured onto the cake. The final element is whipped cream. Traditionally the whipped cream is topped with a dusting of cinnamon. Since I usually use fruit I tend to skip it.
Variations on the Tres Leches Cake
Here are some fun ideas for mixing it up with this Round Tres Leches Cake:
- Instead of condensed milk whisk dulce de leche into the filling, top with a caramel crunch / praline.
- Top with ganache and toasted coconut
- Top with sliced peaches or mangos and a little drizzle of honey with a scattering of pistachios
I would be remiss if I didn't take this time to say that when I was putting my strawberries onto the cake I was heavily inspired by this image I saw on Pinterest from. Her strawberry cake looks delicious and I hope to try it one day!
Without further ado here is the recipe for a Round Tres Leches Cake. Hope you love it as much as we do!
Round Tres Leches Cake
Flour Mix for Cake
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
Remaining Cake Ingredients
- 5 eggs - whites and yolks separated
- ¼ + ¾ cup sugar (different uses, see recipe)
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
Three Milks Mix
- ¾ cup evaporared milk
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 1 cup condensed milk
- 1 ½ cup whipping cream
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ - 1 lb strawberries sliced per preference
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease and line with parchment paper a 9-inch pan with at least 3 inch high sides.
- Mix the ingredients for the flour mix in a bowl and set aside.
- Whip the egg whites in a medium bowl on medium high heat until soft peaks form (3-4 minutes) then gradually add the ¼ cup sugar and whip till stiff peaks form.
- Now whip the egg yolks and remaining ¾ cup of sugar in a larger bowl until pale and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract.
- Kepe the mixer on low and add the flour and the ⅓ cup milk in two increments each so: half of the flour, half of the milk, remaining flour, remaining milk. Mix until JUST combined, do not over mix!
- Deftly fold in the whipped egg whites (refer to video)
- Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- When the cake is done loosen the sides with a knife, invert onto your cake plate and peel off the parchment paper
- Combine the milk mix, whisk well and set aside.
- Whip the cream with the sugar until nice and fluffy, add the vanilla and mix to incorporate.
- Poke LOTS of holes into your cake with a skewer
- Gently pour MOST of the milk mix onto the cake, reserving ⅓-1/2 cup for serving
- Once the milk is absorbed, cover with cream, top with your fruit and chill for at least 2-4 hours before serving for the flavours to meld. When ready to serve, cut a slice, pour a little extra milk mix on to the plate and enjoy.
Where in the recipe are egg yolks added? I didnt understand
Hi Waniya! They're added in Step 5 with the sugar! Hope you try it and love it!
Thank you for your response! Can you also tell me what kind of sugar do you use for sponge cakes like these? Granulated or icing?
Np! So for all cakes I use granulated sugar (unless you're in Pakistan in which case please use caster!). The granulated sugar whips up beautifully!
Saba Sabir says
Hi, this looks delicious. Do you by any chance have this recipe in grams. Cups make me very nervous 🙈 if you don’t, could you please tell me whether your cups are US standard or metric, so that I can convert 💖
Hi Saba! I absolutely understand the nerves but unfortunately I only have it in cups since that's the standard for baking here. I will freely admit though that grams is the better way to go! The measurement is in US cups not metric 🙂 Happy Baking!
Thanks! One more question 🙈 I do not have a 9 inch pan with 3 inch high sides. I want to make it in 6 inch pan for a small but higher cake. The sides are 3 inches high. Should I divide the batter in two halves? Will it be ok or will it overflow in a batch of two?
Hi Waniya! You would definitely need to divide the batter, and while I cannot say I have ever tried it in 2 6-inch pans I suspect you will be cutting it close in terms of volume. Sorry I can't be of more help
Please let me know when possible, need to bake it tmrw 🙂
I LOVE tres leches cake but I've always been intimidated by it! I think it's time I change that!
I agree! lol!
Hi. What whole milk do you use for the milk mix? Is it just regular full cream milk?
Hi Iqra! Yes that's right! Happy baking!
Hi the recipe seems great just wanted to ask can I make this in desert dish the oblong ones and if its chocolate treesleeches cake how much Coco will I add
Hi Zarmina! For a chocolate tres leches the entire recipe would need some adjusting in terms of the flour and sugar as well so I can't say how much without trying it out!
Danielle Ramirez says
Listen! You got the magic in your hands.
I am 26 and every time I have tried baking it has always failed. I mean the testing part was good but the cake or cookies would never hold together. Today I have searched for so many recipes until I came across yours. After finishing up the cake came beautiful, I was afraid because it rised vary tall but after taking it out it dropped to normal size. I must admit that as a person who is married to a Mexican man, I never tried such a testy cake! So thank you for it and for bringing my faith in baking again.
I am so so so very glad to hear that Danielle! Makes my day!!!
hobo see says
I made this and it tasted a bit eggy, Over the days it got better, but is there anyway to make it taste less eggy or am I doing something wrong?
Hmmm so I’ve done a lot of reading on why cakes sometimes taste eggy and sometimes not - it seems like it could go either way depending on how much sulfur an egg emits. Typically a whipped egg sponge cake shouldn’t have this issue but if you do then I’d suggest adding a tsp of vanilla into to the milk mix. Hope that helps!
can you make a trace Leche cake in a springform pan
yes absolutely! With this recipe you can remove the sides right after it's baked and cooled or you can wait till you do the pour over and then remove the sides - just remember to put it in a rimmed plate to catch any excess!
Not a great recipe. The cake has no flavor and even with all the milk added it a sponge cake is not the correct or original type of vake for tres leches.
Sarah Mir says
HI theresa! Sorry to hear that the recipe did not work for you! This kind of plain sponge is the traditional tres leches cake, but it's definitely not got a strong flavor. For me the flavour from the milks is plenty, but I can totally see how it didn't work for you. thanks for sharing your feedback!
Hi there, just a quick question how does the cake hold up without any butter or oil? I am just surprised.
Sarah Mir says
It's all in the eggs here!