Skip to content

Tres Leches Cake

May 4, 2011

It’s our first guest post!  Please allow me to introduce a very good friend of mine, Gabrielle 🙂  We grew up playing tag football every summer and making (and eating!) more french icing than I can remember.  In our “older” days, she was the awesome assistant planner of my wedding planning business, always keeping me sane and sharing a piece of cake and a good laugh with me.  She’s a super talented baker (and cook!) and I’m so happy she agreed to do a post for you all (although she is a Texan, I feel like maybe I should change that to y’all).  So Happy Cinco de Mayo (a day early), I hope you enjoy!

When Linda first asked me to do a guest spot on The Purple Spoon I knew immediately that I wanted to do it and that I wanted to do something that I’ve never made before. I toyed with a ton of ideas before I finally decided to do mini Pavlovas! I was really excited and geared up for the experience of both making and tasting them! And then it rained…and rained…and rained. I was determined not to set myself up for failure and attempt to make a meringue based dessert when it was flooding all around me, so I kept putting it on hold. In the meantime on a whim I invited company over for a Mexican Fiesta. I browsed tons of authentic Mexican desserts to serve to my guests and kept coming back around to the Tres Leches Cake. I’d never tasted it but it looked incredibly yummy and I was as interested in feeling the texture of this cake as I was the taste! Then the other day I was walking through the super market talking to my grandmother on the phone about how excited I was to do my post for The Purple Spoon. I was rambling on about how much I wanted it to dry up so my Pavlova would be a success (all the while piling the ingredients for the Tres Leches cake into my cart) it dawned on me that I was making this cake the day before Cinco De Mayo and it would fit perfectly well as a seasonal dessert for the blog!
I am so glad it worked out this way because this cake turned out incredible!  Tres Leches translated literally means, three milks. This rich, sweet concoction is a delicious sponge cake soaked in, you guessed it, three milks! It’s a combination of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. While incredibly rich, it had a light taste that made it hard not to go back for ‘just one more bite’, repeatedly.

*note: This cake is best baked a day prior to serving so that it can soak in the glaze overnight.

whisk together the dry ingredients

Whip up the butter and sugar

Add the eggs one at a time and beat until it looks like this

Add the flour and beat a little more

Bake it then poke a bunch of holes in it to soak up all the gooey-ness

whisk up your tres leches (three milks) 🙂

Pour it over your cake and let it sit overnight

Add whipped cream and serve!

Tres Leches Cake
Adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe on food network


For the Cake:
1-3/4 C. Cake flour*, plus extra for preparing the pan
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c sugar
5 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

For the glaze:
1 12oz. can evaporated milk
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 c heavy cream

For the topping:
2 c heavy cream
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
cinnamon to sprinkle on top and fruit to top with (I opted to give my guest the choice of strawberries or a mango kiwi mixture)


1. For the Cake:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F)  and lightly grease and flour a spring form pan (you can also use a 9×13 pan if you’d rather).

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Turn your mixer down to low and very slowly add the sugar. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs one at a time mix to thoroughly combine each one. Add vanilla and mix again. Add the flour mixture to the batter in four batches and mix until just combined. Transfer the batter into prepared pan and spread to distribute it evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

3. Let the cake cool for about 30 minutes and then poke holes all over the top of the cake with a wooden skewer (or toothpick or fork, whatever your utensil just be sure to poke the cake  A LOT). Let the cake finish cooling completely, and then prepare the glaze.

4. For the Glaze: Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and 1 c heavy cream in a medium sized bowl or large measuring cup. Pour the glaze slowly over the cake. Do a little at a time and let it seep in. It will seem like a lot of glaze because it is a lot of glaze! The cake will soak up all of that deliciousness over night so lightly cover it with some foil, pop it in the refrigerator and finish it the following day.

5. For the Topping:  Whip 2 c heavy cream in a mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Continue mixing while slowly adding sugar, once all of the sugar is incorporated add vanilla and beat until thick. It should have very stiff peaks, but don’t over beat it! ( I apologize for not having any pictures of this part of the process, the cream splattered a little when I turned my mixer on, I moved my camera so it didn’t get splattered with cream and it was quickly rendered out of sight out of mind and I forgot to take pictures!)

6. Spread the whipped cream over the cake and sprinkle a little cinnamon on top.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
I tossed my fruit in a little sugar and let my guest choose which fruit to top their individual pieces with.

*I didn’t have the cake flour the recipe called for so I made it myself by measuring out my all purpose flour. Then removing two tablespoons of the flour and replacing it with 2 tablespoons of corn starch. I then whisked them together and sifted them 4 times. And wa-la cake flour.

I sincerely enjoyed making this cake almost as much as my guests and I enjoyed eating it! Happy Cinco De Mayo!

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 4, 2011 4:54 pm

    My intention was to make Tres Leches tomorrow. Guess I didn’t read the part that says let it soak overnight. Oh well, it’ll be good on Friday. Beautiful pictures and the strawberries give it just enough pop.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: