Saturday, June 25

Tres Leches Cake

It was time to resurrect a dessert that should have been delicious but did not turn out the very first time I made it.  The dessert I’m referring to ‘Tres Leches’ cake.  A few years ago my husband, his mom, and I went to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate his birthday.  After we finished our meal we ordered a large slice of cake and shared it.  The cake was white and had strawberries on top.  It didn’t look like anything special or out of the ordinary, BUT WOW, it was no ordinary cake!  The cake was super moist and even liquid-y.  You could tell it had been soaked in something. 

After we left the restaurant I went on a search to find out what type of cake this was and how to re-create it (IF such a heavenly item can be re-created).  The name, Tres Leches, is Spanish for 3 Milks.  Tres Leches cake is a very popular dessert in Latin America and can be found in the U.S. at most Mexican restaurants.  The cake has such a moist consistency because it’s soaked in 3 kinds of milk: evaporated, condensed, & heavy cream or regular milk.  It’s also very sponge like so that it can absorb a good amount of milk and not become soggy.  To get a good idea of how moist this cake is, imagine pressing down on a slice of cake and liquid flowing out.  I know it sounds a little odd, especially when you think about the traditional cakes you’ve eaten, but it is so amazing that you must try it for yourself.

I made it for my parents the very first time I tried making it.  Something went wrong with the cake batter and it didn’t absorb all the milk.  The end result did not look good at all and I was MAD it didn’t turn out.  Ryan made the best of the situation and insisted we should all try it because it would still taste good.  We did and although it looked like someone put mush on our plates and topped it with berries, it still tasted really good.  I never knew until recently that my dad remembered that cake and loved it.  Who knew!  That’s why I decided it was the perfect time to re-create it for Father’s day. 

I found a new recipe hoping that this time everything would work like a charm.  The cake batter is quite easy to make as there aren’t many ingredients, however I will share these useful tips I learned along the way.  The recipe calls for self-rising flour.   I had no idea what this meant.  I thought it was probably just a fancy term for the flour I already had in my kitchen, but it wasn’t.   Glad I didn’t use it after all!  Self-rising flour has leavening agents in it already (baking powder & salt).  If you don’t have self-rising flour at home you can make your own using these proportions: 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  

This is very important, if you have baking powder in your kitchen over a year old, trash it!  I’ve had mine for a while as I don’t use it all the time so I was curious as to how long it lasts.  I read that it’s good for about a year tops and may not even last that long.  If you see clumps within your powder this is a sign that there’s moisture and it’s no longer good.  When I read this I knew mine had clumps but I had always assumed that over time it was normal.  I checked the bottom of my can and found that mine was 2 years old!  So I tossed it right away and bought a new one for this recipe.   

What?!  Best if used by Nov. '09! 

The finished batter
This time the batter cooked perfectly until it was golden brown.  You’ll notice that this cake does not rise very much.  I was worried that I should have used a smaller pan so it would be thicker, but the cake expands in size after the milk is absorbed.  Before you pour the milk mixture on top, let the cake cool, and then use a fork to puncture it with many holes.  This will help the cake absorb the liquid even better.  When you look at the milk mixture you’ll think there’s no way it will all be absorbed, but it does!  Just pour the milk very slowly and take breaks until it’s absorbed.  All the reviews I’ve read say to let the cake sit over night in the fridge to get the best flavor.  If you need to serve the cake the same day, at the very minimum let the cake refrigerate for a few hours.

Puncture all over with holes

The cake absorbing the milk
The cake is typically frosted with a meringue or butter cream frosting but I took the easy way out and frosted it with Cool Whip.  I find that using Cool Whip is very easy and it has a nice summery feel with the added berries.  

This time the cake turned out great!  The cake texture was perfect, the milk was fully absorbed, and it tasted wonderfully refreshing after we came in from being out in the sun all day.  Here's my dad and I celebrating Father’s Day  :)  Did I mention my dad was the one who taught me how to bake when I was younger?  He did!  I think that's where my cooking passion stems from and where I acquired a lot of my cooking skills.  Recently he's made his own mean creation of Creamed Cucumbers that everyone loves.  It's a great summer dish if you've never tried it.  Maybe that can be a future, featured recipe on this blog. 

Tresh Leches
Adapted from Tres Leches ‘Three Milks’ by Blanca,
Serves: 10
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes (not including milk absorption after cake is baked)



  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tub of Cool Whip
  • Fresh Berries for topping



  1. Grease a 8 x 12 or 9 x 13  inch pan. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Separate 5 eggs, reserving the yolks and adding the egg whites to a large mixing bowl.  Beat the egg whites and slowly add 1 cup sugar, beating constantly.
  3. Add the yolks one by one, beating well after each addition. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add the flour into the egg mixture; stirring. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until done. Cool.
  5. Use fork to puncture cake with holes.
  6. Frost with Cool Whip and top with berries such as blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries.

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