Tres Leches Cake
Traditional Latin Flavor
Tres Leches Cake is very popular in many parts of Latin America. The origins of this cake are often disputed; however, the idea for creating a cake soaked in a liquid is probably has its roots in Europe. Similar cakes, such as rum cake from Puerto Rico and tiramisu from Italy, use this same method of soaking the cake in a flavorful base liquid. It adds another taste dimension while also transforming the cake into something entirely different. The cake takes on a moist density that sets it apart from other drier versions of a common dessert cake.
The 3 milk cake or Tres Leches is named for the three kinds of milk used in making the cake. (Tres means three in Spanish and Leche means milk). The three types of milk used in the soaking sauce are sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. The heavy cream is also whipped and used as the topping for the cake. After soaking, the cake is extremely dense and moist, almost like a custard. It’s delicious and sweet, but nothing like a traditional cake one generally finds in typical American bakeries.
Mexican Food - Three Different Recipes for this Luscious Cake
Pastel de Tres Leches Recipes
There are many wonderful recipes for Tres Leches Cake. They're all fairly similar, but each has it's own unique twist on this classic Latin dessert. Here are three different recipes that I think you'll be very pleased with and each is very easy to make. Try one, or all three, and let me know which one is your favorite!
Cake and Milk
Tres Leches Cake #1
1-1/2 cups cake flour
1 pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 large eggs
½ cup whole milk
Milk Sauce for Soaking (see recipe below)
Whipped Topping (see recipe below)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
Generously butter a 13x9 inch baking dish
Combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add the eggs to the sugar mixture one at a time until well combined. Stir in the ½ cup of milk, then gently fold in the flour mixture a little at a time.
Pour batter into a lightly greased cake pan or baking dish and bake at 325 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until it feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Let the cake cool until it reaches room temperature. Turn the cake out onto a platter with raised edges. Pierce the cake with a fork 20-30 times. Let the cake cool in the refrigerator for an additional 30 minutes.
12 oz. evaporated milk
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon rum or brandy (optional)
Whisk together the three milks and the rum or brandy, if you’re using it. Slowly pour the liquid over the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Occasionally, spoon the milk runoff back onto the cake.
¾ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
In a chilled mixing bowl add heavy cream, vanilla and sugar. Beat on high speed until peaks form. Spread a thin layer over the cake.
Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or garnish with fresh berries.
This recipe calls for the cake to be removed from the baking pan prior to soaking with the milk sauce. If you prefer, you can easily leave the cake in the baking pan and pour the milk sauce over the perforated cake. It really just depends on if you want to serve the cake directly from the baking pan or if you want it on a decorative platter.
Great Recipes for Mexican Cooking
Mexican Dessert Recipes
3 Milk Cake (Version #2)
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 – 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy (or whipping) cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon dark Cuban rum
Preparation for the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
Combine egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gently fold in the milk, vanilla, flour and baking powder. In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until foamy; add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup sugar and continue beating until the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peaks, but not dry. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish and bake until the cake feels firm and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30-45 minutes. Let the cake cool completely in the pan. Pierce the cake all over with a fork, but be careful not to tear it up.
Prepare the Milk Sauce:
Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream, vanilla and rum in a bowl. Whisk until well blended. Pour the syrup over the cake, spooning the overflow back on top, until it is all absorbed. Chill for at least an hour.
When ready to serve, cut a slice and plate it. Top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream or a side of ice cream, dust cake and cream with some fresh cocoa powder and place a slice or two of fresh mango, strawberries, kiwi or other fruit on the side.
My Favorite Version of this Cake!
Traditional Cake (Version #3)
This is another delicious recipe. This recipe uses a meringue topping as opposed to a whipped cream topping. It still uses the same 3 milks as a soaking sauce.
6 large eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Milk Sauce for Soaking (See recipe below)
Meringue Topping (see recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after the addition of each.
Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. (Do this quickly so the batter does not lose volume.) Add the vanilla. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and while still warm, pour the cream mixture over it. Let sit and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
1 - 14oz can evaporated milk
1 - 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 T water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
Once the cake is completely chilled, make the meringue topping. In a saucepan combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 to 240 degrees F. Remove from the heat. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. While beating, add the hot syrup in a slow stream. Beat until all the syrup has been added, the mixture cools, and a glossy icing forms.
To assemble: Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread the meringue evenly across the top
Top Mexican Desserts
What is Your Favorite Mexican DessertSee results without voting
Coffee Infused 3 Milk Cake
Another Popular Latin Dessert
If you liked this cake, you might want to give another popular dessert a try. Flan is the Mexican or Latin version of France's Creme Caramel. A smooth, creamy custard with a crunch caramelized sugar. Absolutely delicious.
Enjoy the Flavors of Latin America
Three milk cake is a favorite dessert for many families, but it is just one of many delicious dishes in South American and Mexican cuisines. Be sure to try making some authentic Mexican tamales or enjoy the delicious and complex flavors of an incredible homemade cajeta. Cajeta is delicious served over ice cream, in coffee, or in many dessert recipes. Finish your meal with a cup of cafe con leche and enjoy some time reading about the beautiful artist community of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Thanks for reading!
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