Tres Leches cake is a soft dry cake which is baked and then soaked in a generous milk mixture. Perfect for Cinco de Mayo or any day of the year!
Jump straight to the recipe!
What is Tres Leches cake?
"Tres Leches" is Spanish for "three milks." After you make the soft airy cake, you poke holes all over the top, and pour the milks all over it - evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, heavy whipping cream, and a bit of rum if you like . The milk mixture seeps into the cake via the holes you made.
The cake is then topped with a whipped creamy topping and decorated with a variety of fruits. This cake is beautifully moist, deliciously sweet, and amazingly satisfying.
- All purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Large eggs
- Granulated sugar
- Whole milk - you could use a milk with less fat in it, although you would lose some of the richness of the cake. I would suggest using 2% milk if you don't want to use whole milk.
- Vanilla extract
- Evaporated milk
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Heavy whipping cream - used in both the "three milks" and in the whipped topping.
- Rum - this is completely optional. Leave it out if you wish, and the cake will still taste amazing!
- Powdered sugar
- Fresh fruit - you can use any variety of fruit here.
How to make the cake
Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside. Divide the eggs into 2 bowls, yolks in one and whites in another. Add some of the sugar to the yolks and beat it until the yolks have lightened in colour. Whip the egg whites until they reach soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar to the egg whites and then beat them until they reach stiff peaks.
Add the milk and vanilla to the egg yolk mixture. Fold the dry ingredients in, and then gently fold in the egg whites. Pour the cake batter into a baking dish, and bake it until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cake cool completely and then make the three milk topping. Combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, heavy whipping cream and rum, if you are using it. Poke holes all over the top of the cooled cake, and pour the milk mixture over it.
After the milks have seeped into the cake, make the whipped topping. Whip heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks. Spread it evenly over the top of the cake and then decorate with a variety of fruit.
For more step by step photos, view my web story for tres leches cake!
Tips for the best cake
- Bake the cake in a ceramic or glass baking dish as the cake will rise better.
- Do not over mix the egg whites into the batter. You want to fold them in gently so they won't deflate.
- You can use any type of milk, however the less fat content in the milk, means a less richer cake. I would stick to whole milk or 2% milk.
- The rum adds a tiny bit of flavour to the cake. You can leave it out if you would like, and the cake will still taste amazing.
- Store the cake in the the refrigerator. This cake tastes best served cold.
Frequently asked questions
Store the cake in an airtight container in the refridgerator for 5-7 days.
It is supposed to be super moist and some milk mixture will lightly puddle on your plate. However, it does not taste soggy at all.
You can make the sponge part of the cake ahead of time. Allow the cake to completely cool and then wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the cake in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature before using it. It is not recommended to freeze the cake after the milks have been added to it.
Store the tres leches cake in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap or a secure lid. This cake is best served cold.
After pouring the three milk mixture over top of the cake, you can wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight. Decorate it with whipped cream and fresh fruit the next day.
Here are some more cake recipes
- LEMON LOVERS TRIFLE
- RED, WHITE AND BLUE MINI CHEESECAKES
- PINK VELVET SWISS ROLL WITH WHIPPED CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- BLACK FOREST TRIFLE
- ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CAKE
Tres Leches Cake Recipe
- one 9x13" cake pan
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs separated
- 1 cup granulated sugar divided
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Three Milk Topping
- 12 oz can evaporated milk
- 10 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream cold
- 2-3 tablespoons rum optional
Whipped Cream Topping
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- fresh fruit for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13" baking pan with oil.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Separate the eggs whites and yolks into two separate bowls. Egg whites in one, yolks in another.
- Add ¾ cup sugar to the bowl with the egg yolks and mix on high speed until the egg yolks are pale yellow.
- Add milk and vanilla to the egg yolks and stir to combine.
- Whip the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar as you whip. Whip until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
- Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and stir until just combined.
- Add the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture and gently fold to combine. You do not want the deflate the egg whites.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and gently spread it evenly.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely at room temperature. The cake will deflate a bit as it cools.
- To make the three milk topping, combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, heavy whipping cream and rum (if using) in a medium bowl.
- Poke holes all over the top of the cake with a toothpick.
- Pour the milk mixture over the top of the cake, making sure you get all corners and sides as well.
- Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour or overnight to let the milks soak into the cake.
- To make the topping, add heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar to a large mixing bowl. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Spread whipped topping evenly over the top of the cake and garnish with fresh fruit.