Photo tastesbetterfromscratch
The Traditional Tres Leches Cake is irresistibly moist. Photo tastesbetterfromscratch

What is Tres Leches?

Tres leches literally means, “three milks” and Tres Leches Cake is an ultra light sponge cake soaked in a sweet milk mixture. It’s popular in Mexico and Latin America and throughout the United States as it’s often available at Mexican restaurants.

The cake is similar to an angel food cake. The whipped egg whites in the batter make it extra light and spongy. After baking the cake you poke holes in it with a fork and pour three types of milk over the top–evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk–hence the name “tres leches”.


1.For the cake:

Photo tastesbetterfromscratch
Photo tastesbetterfromscratch

9 eggs separated

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2.For the sauce:

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

1 cup milk

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

3.For the topping:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

¼ cup confectioners' sugar

**READ MORE: TOP 10 Best Delicious Traditional Cakes Around the World


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13-inch pan, lining the bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the pan.

2. Pour the egg whites into the bowl of your mixer and beat on medium-high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they hold soft peaks. Slowly stir in the sugar and continue beating until they hold harder or stiffer peaks. Turn off the mixer and, with a spatula, move the egg white mixture into a large mixing bowl.

3. Rinse the mixer bowl and its whisk. Now, pour the egg yolks into the bowl and beat on medium-high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the yolks become creamy and puffy and their color has toned down to an almost cream color rather than a loud yellow. Stir in the vanilla and continue beating for another minute.

4. Pour the egg yolk mixture onto the egg white mixture and, with a spatula, in circular motions, combine them into a homogeneous single batter. Do so gently, trying not to lose too much volume gained from beaten egg whites. Fold in the flour, scraping the bowl with the spatula so that all the flour is well mixed.

5. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and place into the oven for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. It can be a bit moist, but not wet. The top of the cake should be tanned or golden brown.

Photo tastesbetterfromscratch
Photo tastesbetterfromscratch

6. Once it cools down, turn it onto a platter. Remove parchment paper, cover the top with an upside-down platter and invert again. The platter should be large enough to hold the cake and the vanilla sauce you are about to prepare. Using a fork, or two, poke holes all over the cake so that it will better absorb the vanilla sauce.

7. In a mixing bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, milk, and vanilla extract. Pour the vanilla sauce over the cake. It may appear like too much sauce, but it will all be absorbed!

Photo tastesbetterfromscratch
Photo tastesbetterfromscratch

8. In the bowl of your mixer, whip up the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture holds up stiff peaks. Spread the whipped cream all over the already-wet cake and place it in the refrigerator. You can decorate the cake with berries or any other topping of your choice.mes I didn't.

Photo Ethnicspoon
Photo Ethnicspoon
Photo Pinterest
Photo Pinterest
What is 'La Lechera'?

La Lechera is the name of the condensed milk made by Nestle. “Lechera” means “milk lady”, and if you look at the picture on the can, you can see that there’s a lady holding a pot of milk on her head.

Does tres leches cake have alcohol in it?

That's completely up to you! Sometimes I'll add a splash or two of alcohol and sometimes I'll keep it very simple.

Can you leave tres leches cake out overnight?

I would not recommend doing this. Since the cake has dairy in it, it's not safe to leave it out and eat it later. However, you need to place it in the fridge overnight to allow it to absorb all the milk. Besides, the tres leches cake tastes better when is cold.

How long can I store this Mexican cake?

This tres leches recipe is best to eat within 2 days but you can leave it up to 4 days in the fridge if wrapped tight and stored properly. And, you can even freeze the cake after you added the kinds of milk, to defrost place it in your fridge until it defrosts them decorate it with the whipped cream & fresh fruits. Remember that its texture is a little soggy.

Origin of Tres Leche Cake

In the 19th century, there was a recipe floating around Mexico for a bread cake that was soaked in wine and topped with custard. This is thought to be a spin of the Italian tiramisu or the English trifle, both alcohol soaked sponge cakes with heavy cream, cheese and sugar! All recipes were a great way to reconstitute left over, stale cookies, cake or bread into a great dessert. With the European influence in Mexico during the 19th century it goes with little explanation why these soaked recipes became popular in the New World using European ingredients like custard, bread and wine.

In the 1930’s when the Nestle Company opened up plants in Mexico during World War II, a recipe for Tres Leches was printed on the outside of the evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream cans. Nestle is held responsible for taking the Tres Leche Cake mainstream.

All recipes in Mexico use a combination of evaporated, condensed and cream in their recipe even today. It is this combination that makes it so irresistible and desired by both visitors and locals…in moderation.

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