Tres leches cake

tres leches caketres leches cake, or torta de tres leches (from Spanish, “three milks cake”), is basically a sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.The tres leches cake  is  very popular  in many parts of Central and South America.It is sometimes featured in cinco de Mayo celebrations. For this month it was our daring bakers challenge to make one.

The tres leches cake is super moist and decadent -as you might expect- but what is surprising is that it is not soggy. When you make the cake and pour the three milk mixture on it you will think “this is going to end in a disaster, there is no way that this little cake will absorb all this liquid” but it will!The cake’s ability to absorb all that liquid  is due to the fact that the tres leches cake is made of a sponge cake base,  sponge cakes as the name implies are full of bubbles. This distinct texture is why the tres leches is moist but not soggy

Tres leches "three milk cake"

Blog checking lines :Inma of la Galletika was our Sept. 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy.. just plain delish!

I made  the cake following Inma’s directions except for two little changes.

Instead of using a round or square pan and then dividing the cake into layers. I used a large rectangular pan , divided the cake in half and stacked the two halves on top of each other. I have serious difficulty in dividing a cake into equal layers.(I usually end up destroying one of the layers or with very uneven layers!) I have found that this technique works much better. Just divide a rectangular cake in half and stack the halves and you are good to go 🙂

My other variation was that I did not use all of the milk syrup because my cake was thin, I set aside one cup of the mix .

I chose to fill my cake with pineapples and toasted sweetened coconut. The pairing of the moist and decadent cake with the freshness of the pineapples, the nutty sweetness of the sweetened coconuts, the richness of the cream was irresistible.

Thank you Inma for a wonderful challenge and a cake that I know I will make again for sure

Classic Three Milks Cake:

Servings: 12

This recipe is adapted from an interview given by one of Mexico’s best Pastry Chefs; Paulina Abascal to the magazine Revista Secretos de la Pastelería Caserais

Ingredients for the vanilla sponge cake

5 large eggs (separated)

½ cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (125 gm) sugar

2 teaspoons (10 ml) of vanilla extract

1 cup (240 ml) (5 oz) (140gm) all-purpose (plain) flour (sifted)

For three milks syrup

1 can (14 oz) (400 gm) sweetened condensed milk

1 can (12 oz) (340 gm) evaporated milk

1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream (about 35% fat) or 1 cup of half & half or 1 cup milk

1 cinnamon stick

Topping and filling

2 cups (500 ml) of whipping cream (about 30% fat)

½ cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (125 gm) Canned or fresh fruit (to fill and decorate the cake)

Directions For making  the Sponge Cake:

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Prepare a square 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) pan or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan I used a 9*13 pan

Separate the egg whites from the yolks.

Beat the egg whites on medium speed, 3 – 5 minutes.

When soft peaks form slowly add the sugar in small batches

Whip until stiff peaks form about 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl beat egg yolks at medium-high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the egg yolks become pale colored, creamy and puffy.

Stir in vanilla.

step 1 Pour the egg yolks over the egg whites, gently fold until just combined trying not to lose any volume from the mixture. step 2 Fold in the flour little by little in the form of rain. Mix until just combined (over-beating will result in a denser, flatter cake).

step 3

Pour the batter into the prepared 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) square cake pan or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan. I used my 9*13 panstep4 Bake in the preheated moderate oven for 25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean


Let it cool

Once cool, poke all over the cake using a fork or a skewer (that was a great way to release stress at the end of the day :)) This helps the cake absorb the three milk soaking liquid.

Three milks syrup

In a saucepan add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream and cinnamon stick.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and continue boiling for 5 minutes.

Remove it and let it cool.

Once it is cool,gradually pour  the three milk syrup on the cake, evenly distributing it all over the cake. I set aside 1 cup of the mix that I did not use. Within 30 minutes the cake has absorbed most of the the liquid

step 6

It would be best if you would allow the cake to rest in the fridge overnight to complete the soaking process.



  1. Whip the cream, when soft peaks form add the sugar little by little, continue whipping until stiff peaks form about 2 mins.


Cut the cake rectangle in half (see notes)

Layer some whipped cream on the bottom layer

decoration step 1
Cover with canned or fresh fruit. I used pineapple and toasted sweetened coconut
decoration step 2
Top the fruit with a layer of cream
Place the second half of the cake on top of the filling
decoration step 3
Cover the cake with whipped cream
decoration step 4
Coat the edges of the cake with toasted coconut
decoration step 5
decoration step 6
decoration step 7
Cut three strips of parchment and place them on top of the cake
Sprinkle toasted coconut all over the top of the cake
decoration step 8
Carefully and slowly left the strips leaving beautiful striped on top of the cake
decoration step 9
Decorate the cake with cream
decoration step 10
Invite some friends and enjoy 🙂
Tres leches cake
I have received a few questions about cutting and layering the cake.What I did is cut a little segment from the edge of the pan(2 cm rectangular wedge ) to give me a little space, then I ran a spatula under the cake to make sure it is separate from the pan and then carefully removed it from the pan.
You can line the whole pan with parchment and then use the parchement to help you remove the cake. The other option would be to cut the cake before adding the milk, place each half on parchment and in a separate little pan and then soak it. After the over night refrigeration you can use the parchment to stack the layers
Yet another option would be to serve the cake in a sheet pan without making it into a layered cake. Spread the cream on top of the cake and then decorate it with fruit