How to make Pastel de Tres Leches- Tres Leches Cake

  • 01 of 10

    Pastel de Tres Leches- Let's get Started

    tres leches
    Leah Maroney
    Pastel de Tres Leches or "Three Milks Cake" has become a traditional dessert all over Latin America. While the history of it's origins are not exactly known it is thought to come from Central America and it's first known publishing was on the back of a Nestle Evaporated Milk can back in the 1960's. It has grown in popularity all over Central and South America and also the Carribean. It is simply a sponge cake that has been soaked in a "milk syrup" or a "sweet...MORE cream sauce" which is made up of 3 milks- evaporated, condensed and cream. It may seem like a complicated affair, but Tres Leches cake is not that much more complicated than baking any other kind of cake.

    Now that you know a little bit about this famed dessert, it's time to gather your ingredients.

    Cake Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 5 large eggs
    • 1/3 cup oil
    • 1/2 cup whole milk

    Cream Syrup

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

    Whipped Topping

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

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

    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    Mix the dry ingredients

    tres leches
    Leah Maroney
    Add the dry ingredients to a medium bowl and mix them up until well incorporated.Dry Ingredients
    • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
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  • 03 of 10

    Mixing the Wet Ingredients

    tres leches
    Leah Maroney
    Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the wet ingredients together on high speed until they become thoroughly mixed and somewhat frothy. This usually takes about 2 minutes. After they are nice and frothy, slowly stir in the milk and oil.Wet Ingredients
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 5 large eggs
    • 1/3 cup oil
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    Mixing in the dry ingredients

    tres leches
    Leah Maroney
    On low speed, mix the flour mixture into the egg mixture 1/4 cup at a time to maintain as much of the frothiness that you have whipped into the sugar and eggs as you can.
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  • 05 of 10

    Get ready to bake the cake

    tres leches
    Leah Maroney
    Pour the batter into a greased 9x13 baking pan. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
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  • 06 of 10

    Preparing the cake for soaking

    tres leches
    Leah Maroney
    After the cake has cooled to room temperature, poke the cake all the way through, repeatedly with a fork or toothpick. If a cake residue from the top of the cake builds up on the fork, wipe it off every so often.
    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    Preparing the Milk Syrup

    tres leches
    Leah Maroney
    In a bowl, whisk together the three milk's to until they are evenly mixed. The sweetened condensed milk is very thick and has a tendency to sink to the bottom, so use a scraper on the bottom if you want to check to see that everything is mixed properly. It may seem like a lot of liquid, but most of it will absorb into the cake.Milk Syrup
    • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
    • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tablespoon rum or brandy (optional)
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  • 08 of 10

    Soaking the Cake

    tres leches
    Leah Maroney
    Pour the milk mixture over the cooled cake. It will seem like a lot of liquid, and that is okay. Sometimes the cake will loosen from the pan and float in it. Cover the cake and refrigerate it for a minimum of three hours, but overnight is best.
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  • 09 of 10

    The Soaked Cake

    tres leches
    Leah Maroney
    After the cake has had plenty of time to soak, the liquid should be 85-95% absorbed. If it has only soaked for 3 or 4 hours and there is still way to much liquid, it may just need more time to soak. The cake shown was soaked overnight and very little liquid is left.
    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Topping the Cake

    tres leches
    Leah Maroney
    On high speed, mix together the ingredients for the whipped topping until the cream forms stiff peaks. You can frost the cake in the pan, or you can invert the cake onto a serving platter with raised edges (to prevent the milk syrup from running off.) Spread a layer of whipped topping evenly over the cake. You can serve it immediately, or cover, and return the refrigerator for up to 12 hours, at which point the whipped topping may begin to break down.

    Whipped Topping

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

    You can further garnish the cake with a sprinkle of cinnamon or fresh berries.