Tres leches cake

Tres leches cake is a sponge cake soaked in three types of milk – condensed milk, evaporated milk and, depending on the recipe, half and half, whole milk or heavy cream. Sometimes topped with whipped heavy cream, this rich sweet cake is a sample of the Latin cuisine.
Tres leches cake from Roxanashomebaking.com Sweet and spongy cake soaked in three milks (evaporated milk, condensed milk and half and half) and topped with sweetened whipped cream

The first time I heard about tres leches cake was before I had this blog and hardly knew how to turn the oven on. Back then I made it from a boxed yellow cake mix following the easy instructions and simply poured the three milks on top of it, praying for the best.

The smell of sweet milk was calling my name so loud I ended up eating most of the cake straight from the plate, no cutting needed, no fancy plates or even whipped cream on top.

It reminded me of the way cakes are made in Romania. We don’t have dry cakes in my home country. All our cakes are lightly soaked in a sweet syrup before frosting them. 

Tres leches cake from Roxanashomebaking.com Sweet and spongy cake soaked in three milks (evaporated milk, condensed milk and half and half) and topped with sweetened whipped cream

This time, after eating my weight in cakes in the meantime, I waited patiently for the cake to soak overnight before cutting it into squares and call it breakfast.

It has milk, it has eggs – totally acceptable for breakfast!

There are lots of recipes for tres leches cake but this time I decided to try Alton Brown’s version and I was happy I did.

The cake itself is light and airy, but then you add the evaporated milk, condensed milk and half and half and let is sit for a couple of hours or overnight to let the flavors develop and the cake absorb all the liquid. If before soaking was a good cake, after was Ah-mazing!!!! Quickly whip up some heavy cream, spread on top of the cake and  enjoy a piece. It will brighten your whole day!

Tres leches cake recipe

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 12 hours

Yield: one 13X9 baking pan

Tres leches cake recipe

Tres leches cake - sweet and spongy cake soaked in three milks (evaporated milk, condensed milk and half and half) and topped with sweetened whipped cream.

Ingredients

    For the cake
  • 6 3/4 oz (190 grams) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the glaze
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • For the topping
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

    For the cake
  1. Heat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute.
  3. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar and mixed until creamed in. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary.
  4. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix until well combined. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Add the baking powder and salt followed by the flour in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cake is lightly golden.
  7. Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  8. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork.
  9. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.
  10. *when the cake is cooled, you can either leave it in a pan or take it out and place it on a rimmed serving plate/platter, like I did.
  11. For the glaze
  12. Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake.
  13. Refrigerate the cake overnight.
  14. Topping:
  15. Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed.
  16. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Notes

recipe from Alton Brown

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Tres leches cake from Roxanashomebaking.com Sweet and spongy cake soaked in three milks (evaporated milk, condensed milk and half and half) and topped with sweetened whipped cream

Sending love your way,

Roxana

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    Hello! My name is Roxana and I'm a self-taught baker, wanna-be photographer and the writer behind Roxana's Home Baking, where I share original and adapted scratch recipes. 

Here you'll find no fuss, no hassle easy recipes with ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen.  Read more ....

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Comments

  1. Marjorie Kingham says

    How much flour is used in this cake recipe? I don’t know how to figure 190 grams to cups. Tres leches cake recipe. The rest of ingredients are listed normal, so why put flour in grams?

  2. Lina says

    Hi Roxana, thank you for sharing. It really looks so yummy. Question, how do you unmold the cake once it already soaked overnight? Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Lina,
      That’s a good question and I just added that note in the directions. You either leave the cake in the pan and once it’s cut into squares you take piece by piece out or once it’s cooled you place the cake on a rimmed platter and pour the milk mixture over it. Make sure the rim is high enough for the milk not to spill over.

      Roxana

  3. Judy says

    This looks really good. Ihave been making this for years with a recipe made with pancake mix. Turns out great. Think I”ll try yours even if its more involved, sometimes change is good.

  4. says

    This cake is so pretty! I recently learned about this cake as I started to see it more often on food blogs. I’m fascinated about “soaking” the cake process. I’m extremely encouraged by your comment that you didn’t know how to turn on oven (really!??!?) before you started this blog… I am already several years behind, but I have to bake as frequent as you do to be a great baker like you. :) It was interesting to learn that Romania doesn’t have dry cakes and how you eat cakes (and sounds delicious).

  5. tanya says

    Cake for breakfast??? I like the way you think Roxana!!! I’ve never had tres leche cake and now I’m wondering why!!! I’ve been missing out, clearly!

  6. says

    Wow, your sheet cake looks so good- please pass me a slice!
    I have never tried tres leches cake but have always been curious about the flavors…I think your cake is the prettiest one I’ve seen ;-)

  7. says

    Oh goodness me girl, that cake looks AWESOME!!!! I love a good tres leches cake….yes I had a bad one once, too dry:-p Looks beautiful, Hugs, Terra

  8. Jocelyn @BruCrew Life says

    A couple pieces of this yummy cake would definitely brighten my day!!! Awesome pics as usual! I always love to see your food styling!!!

  9. cupcake with filling says

    tres leches cake. first time I heard about and feel lucky to know it. what a gorgeous white cream topping you have.. yum-yum

  10. Mesha says

    Hey Roxana! Thanx for the recipe.. I am about to make this cake & was wondering if the cake should be covered while soaking..

    • says

      Hi Mesha,
      You can leave the cake uncovered while soaking, or place some plastic wrap on top of it. Either way, it’s still fine :)

      Roxana

  11. Elizabeth says

    Do you know why some recipes say to beat the egg whites seperately and then fold them into the batter? That is how I do it but what is the difference it makes? I love your platter btw,where did you buy it??

    • says

      Hi Elizabeth,
      I don’t know why some recipes call for whipped egg whites and some don’t.
      But, if you beat your egg white, you incorporate more air into the cake, allowing it to soak up more milk once done.

      The plate I bought it from an antique store. Thanks

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