How to Bake Basic Tres Leches Cake

Tres leches cake
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    65 mins
Ratings (12)

If you desire a rich, creamy dessert with a moist, dense consistency, you'll want put your baking skills to the test by creating a basic Tres Leches Cake.

Making Pastel de Tres Leches

"Pastel de Tres Leches" or "Tres Leches Cake" is named for the three milks in the soaking liquid (Leche means milk in Spanish.) The three milks in the soaking sauce for Tres Leches are sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. The heavy cream is also whipped up to use as the topping. Due to the rich ingredients and that it is soaked in a creamy syrup, Tres Leches Cake is extremely dense and moist, almost like a custard. Tres Leches is sweet and delicious, but it is nothing like a traditional dry cake that is light and fluffy.

See a Step-by-Step version with pictures of each step

What You'll Need

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Cream syrup for soaking (see recipe below)
  • Whipped topping (see recipe below)

How to Make It

Combine flour and baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Add the eggs to the sugar mixture one at a time until well combined. Stir in the 1/2 cup of milk, then gently fold in the flour mixture a little at a time.

Pour batter into a lightly greased cake pan or baking dish, and bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until it feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool until it feels room temperature. Turn it over onto a platter with raised edges. Pierce cake with a fork 20 to 30 times. Let it cool in the refrigerator for an additional 30 minutes.

Cream Syrup

  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon rum or brandy (optional)

Whisk together the three milks and the rum or brandy if you are using it. Slowly pour the liquid over the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Occasionally, spoon the milk runoff back onto the cake.

Whipped Topping

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

In a chilled mixing bowl add heavy cream, vanilla and sugar. Beat on high speed until peaks form. Spread a thin layer over the cake.

Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or garnish with fresh berries.

For a lighter and fluffier version of Tres Leches cake see this recipe for Light and Airy Tres Leches Cake