The perfect dessert after a Mexican feast, this tres leches cake is well worth the effort. Save room for seconds because you won’t be able to get enough of its light, fluffy texture and creamy whipped topping.
If you know your Spanish, you’ve probably worked out that this is a three milk cake. If you think it’s strange, you definitely haven’t tried this delightful Mexican dessert yet. Despite this being a sponge cake soaked in a fair amount of dairy, it maintains a light and fluffy texture that is truly out of this world. The tres leches cake is then finished with a whipped topping and cinnamon for an altogether to die for dessert.
It does take some time, but I guarantee that the effort pays off with this recipe. For an authentic meal to serve your guests or family for a special occasion, serve your tres leches cake after a delicious Mexican feast, paired with mango margaritas or horchata. If you’re on the hunt for more tasty desserts to serve after taco or enchilada night, give my Mexican chocolate cake a try, too!
Why You Will Love This Recipe //
- This recipe takes a little longer but the steps are easy to follow, and its delicious flavor and moist, fluffy texture are the ultimate payoff.
- This cake might be soaked in a lot of dairy, but it feels rather light when eating it because of all the air beaten into the sponge cake and the cream topping, so it doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed.
- It’s sweet (but not to sweet) and makes a great gift for a friend, cake to serve at a birthday party, or simply something you can have at home to nibble on when you have a sweet tooth.
- Kids and adults go equally bananas for this tres leches cake recipe.
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5 eggs
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 12 ounce can evaporated milk
- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 cup whole milk
Whipped cream topping:
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 3 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- ground cinnamon, for topping
How to Make Tres Leches Cake // The Steps
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Step 2: Separate the eggs with whites in one bowl and yolks in another. Add 3/4 cups of sugar to the egg yolks and whisk until yolks and sugar make a pale yellow smooth mixture. Pour in a ⅓ cup of milk and the vanilla essence and mix together.
Step 3: In a large bowl use a whisk or a mixer to beat the egg whites into stiff peaks. As it begins to thicken, add in the rest of the sugar.
Step 4: Combine the flour mixture and the egg yolk mixture together until smooth, then gently fold in the stiff egg whites.
Step 5: Pour the batter into an un-greased baking dish and level on top. Then place in the center of the oven and bake for 25 -35 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to cool completely (about 2 hours).
Step 6: Mix the evaporated milk, whole milk, and condensed milk together. Then, using a fork, poke holes all over the cake and pour the condensed milk mixture over the cake. Place in the fridge and allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture overnight or for at least an hour.
Step 7: When you are ready to serve your cake and the milk mixture is all absorbed you can whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla into stiff peaks. Pour onto the cake and smooth over evenly, then sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy.
There are a number of ways you can change this tres leches cake recipe for a brand new dessert every time. The methods remain the same, but swapping out ingredients once you get the hang of this recipe can be a fun way to experiment. Here’s a few ideas:
- Piña colada tres leches cake: Add some crushed pineapple into your cake batter, swap out the whole milk for coconut milk, then top with coconut flakes.
- Pumpkin tres leches cake: Add pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to your cake batter for a seasonal treat!
- Vegan tres leches cake: Swap out the dairy products for coconut milk, condensed coconut milk, and cream of coconut, then top with a vegan whipped cream.
- Cuatro leches cake: Add an additional leche ingredient by topping your tres leches cake with dulce de leche.
Serving Suggestions //
Strawberries are a delicious addition to this cake. I like to slice them up and lay them over the whipped cream topping for a fresh and sweet pop of flavor. Be sure to also serve your tres leches cake with a cozy drink like tea, coffee, or hot cocoa.
To get the fluffiest cake it works best to use an electric hand mixer or stand mixer to beat the egg whites. The egg whites really give the cake the most fluffy texture, so don’t skimp out on this step.
Make sure that your cake is fluffy and airy, if it has come out dense then it won’t absorb the mixture properly. Alternatively, you may just need to give it more time to absorb (overnight yields the best results).
Berries are a lovely topping for this cake. Blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries work really well. You can also top it with caramel, chocolate drizzle, or skip the whipped topping steps and pile on Cool Whip instead.
How to Store Tres Leches Cake //
The key to keeping your tres leches cake fresh is wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, or an airtight container, so it doesn’t dry out. It’ll keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months. Just leave it in the fridge overnight to defrost.