This classic Tres Leches Cake from scratch will blow your mind! Soft, delicious, melt-in-your-mouth sweet sponge cake, soaked in 3 milks and topped with whipped cream!
I’m really excited to share this recipe with you today, because this cake is really one of my favorites. I first tried a Tres Leches Cake about 15 years ago at a pot luck at work when a co-worker (who is Cuban) brought it for us to try. All I can say is that it was love at first bite. I usually love sponge cakes that are soaked in some sort of liquid, but this cake tops them all.
This really is one of my all time favorite cakes and hubs even declared this better than Sex in a Pan. That’s saying a lot for him, considering he’s lactose intolerant and made an exception for this cake.
What Is Tres Leches Cake
Tres Leches Cake literally means three milks cake, also known as pastel de tres leches or torta de tres leches. It’s basically a sponge cake soaked in 3 different kinds of milk. It may sound pretty simple, but it’s to die for.
My version here is a butter free cake, a very light sponge cake with lots of air bubbles soaked in the milk sauce overnight, then topped with whipped cream, some cocoa powder and some berries.
What Are the Three Milks Used in Tres Leches Cake
The 3 milks used in the sauce are sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and regular milk. But that’s not all, to make this cake a bit boozy, I added about 3 tbsp of rum in my milk sauce. Trust me, you will want to do this if you’re not serving this cake to children.
In my book, this cake ranks as the most moist cake in the world. I really hope you give this cake a try, it’s perfect for a huge crowd, so if you’re having a party for Easter or Cinco de Mayo you will definitely want to give this cake a try!
How to Make Tres Leches Cake
Start by making the batter first. I really recommend separating the eggs and beating the egg whites first before adding them to the batter, that’s the secret to getting this light airy cake. Beat the egg yolks with sugar, vanilla until the eggs are thick and pale. Use a stand mixer but if you don’t have one, a hand mixer works as well.
In another bowl whisk the dry ingredients together. Make the batter next, by alternating between the dry ingredients and the egg yolk mixture. Lastly whisk in the 1/2 cup of milk into the batter. By this time the batter should be quite thick.
Gently fold in the egg whites into the batter. Pour this batter into a greased baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes then cool for 10 minutes.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the milk sauce by whisking all the sauce ingredients together. Pierce the entire cake with a fork. Finally, pour the milk over the cake and let it chill for at least 3 hours to overnight in the fridge. Make sure you give the cake enough time to soak up the milk.
I like to top my cake with some whipped cream, cocoa powder and whatever berries are in season.
This cake is also so easy to customize and add fun flavorful twists, like what I did with my Tiramisu Tres Leches Cake!
How to Store Leftovers
Store leftover cake in airtight container in the fridge for 5 to 7 days.
Can You Make Tres Leches Cake Ahead of Time?
Absolutely. This cake can be made a couple days in advance. The longer time it has to soak up the milk sauce the better it tastes. If making it in advance, wait to top it with whipped cream until before serving, so the whipped cream is fresh.
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Tres Leches Cake
For Milk Sauce
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
- 12 oz evaporated milk (1 can)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2-3 tbsp rum
- Prepare oven: Preheat your oven to 375 F degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Make batter: Separate the eggs, placing the egg whites in a bowl for later. In another bowl add the egg yolks, the 2/3 cup of sugar, vanilla extract and beat with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick and pale. Should take about 2 minutes.
- Into another bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add about half the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and whisk until well combined. Whisk in the milk, then add the remaining flour mixture and whisk well. The cake batter will be quite thick.
- Beat the egg whites with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add the 3 tbsp sugar and continue beating for another minute until sugar is well incorporated. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
- Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for 10 minutes.
- Prepare the milk: While the cake is cooling, prepare the milk sauce by whisking all the milk sauce ingredients into a bowl.
- Pour milk over cake: Pierce the entire surface of the cake with a fork. Slowly pour the milk mixture over the entire cake, evenly. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to overnight.
- Assemble: Top the cake with whipped cream, cocoa powder and berries, if preferred.
- If you don't want to use rum, then just leave it out of the recipe. An extra teaspoon of vanilla can be used as a substitute if you wish.
- Beating the egg whites separately is important to create the air pockets needed to absorb the milk mixture.
- Total time does not include time to chill the cake. It all depends on how long you let it chill.
- As you can see in the video I used white vanilla extract, but regular vanilla extract works just as well.
- Refrigerate leftover cake for up to 5 to 7 days.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.