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Published April 30, 2021. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This delicious tres leches cake is covered in three different kinds of milk and topped off with whipped cream for the ultimate dessert cake.
No joke, if there isn’t dessert on the table after our dinner then tears will be shed. Whether it’s from your kids or your spouse, if you’re in a similar situation then you have to make my chocolate mousse or rice pudding.
Tres Leches Cake
Tres leches translate from Spanish to English as, “three milks.” It is a simple sponge cake that is cooled and covered with three different kinds of milk until it is absorbed by the cake and is then topped off with whipped cream. Often times it will be served with fresh berries on the top or on the side.
There is some dispute over the history of this cake as some historians say it was created in Nicaragua, while others point to Mexico. Tres leches cake became popularized in the mid-1900s and is beloved throughout Latin America. Whether you are celebrating Cinco de Mayo, or just want to serve up a fantastic cake, then tres leches is for you.
How to Make Tres Leches
Follow these very easy to prepare steps for making this amazing tres leches cake:
Start by sifting together flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar on high speed for 10-12 minutes or until light and fluffy.
Next, add in the vanilla and then slowly drizzle in the oil to the stand mixer while mixing.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the sifted dry ingredients until it is well incorporated.
Transfer the batter to a 13×9 casserole dish that has been sprayed with no-stick spray and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until browned on top and firm in the center.
Cool the cake completely to room temperature.
In a large bowl whisk together the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.
Once the cake is cooled use a fork to pierce the cake all over and then pour the mixed milks over top and let it sit until it has been absorbed for about 1 hour.
Top off the cake with whipped cream and optionally dust it with cinnamon and cocoa powder.
Which Milks Can I Use?
There are definitely classic kinds of milk that are used in this recipe, but you can adjust for flavor or even for dietary needs. Here are some milks to use:
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Half and Half
- Soy Milk
- Oat Milk
- Almond Milk
- Cashew Milk
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: While you can and should eat this cake as soon as it is done, you can make this cake up to two days ahead of time. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
How to Store: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before serving. It would be best to keep the whipped cream topping off of the cake for the best freezing results.
chef notes + tips
- This is not an overly wet cake, but it is on the heavier side and is definitely moist.
- Due to the milk and whipped cream in the recipe, it is best to keep it refrigerated.
- If you do not have a stand mixer then you can use an electric hand mixer.
More Dessert Recipes
Homemade Tres Leches Cake Recipe
For the Cake:
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 12 oz can evaporated milk
- 12 oz can condensed sweetened milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
For the Whipped Cream Topping:
- 1 recipe for whipped cream
- cinnamon, cocoa powder, and berries for optional garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Next, add the eggs and sugar to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on high speed for 10-12 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Pour in the vanilla and then slowly pour in the oil while continuing to mix at high speed.
- Remove the mixing bowl and add in the sifted dry ingredients in two batches and fold using a rubber spatula until completely mixed in.
- Transfer the batter to a 13×9 casserole dish that has been sprayed with no-stick spray and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until browned on top and firm in the center.
- Remove the pan and completely cool to room temperature.
- In a separate large bowl whisk together the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream until completely combined. Set aside.
- once the cake is cool use a fork to pierce the cake all over and then pour in the kinds of milk and let it sit until it has been completely absorbed.
- Top off the cake with whipped cream and evenly spread to cover it.
- Optionally garnish with a dusting of cinnamon and cocoa powder. Serve with fresh berries.