This Mexican dessert is a favorite! Tres Leche Cake is a rich, moist, milk-soaked cake that is topped with a lightly sweetened whipped cream that’s sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and topped with fresh fruit.
I have the best sweet recipe for you today: tres leche cake! This is a type of sponge cake that is soaked in three different kinds of milk. It’s a classic dessert from Mexico and it’s so good!
“Tres leche” means three milk cake – if you’ve never tried it, I think you’re going to love it. I mean, what’s not to love about a moist, sweet cake topped with whipped cream?
Why This Recipe Works
- This recipe is completely from scratch – the cake, the milk soak, and the sweetened whipped cream are all homemade for a really special dessert!
- There are three parts to this recipe, but none of them are difficult to make.
- I’m showing you all the steps so you get a light and delicious sponge that is so delicious soaked in the three different kinds of milk!
This is a great dessert recipe for a celebration or whenever you want to treat yourself!
What is Tres Leche Cake?
This cake is also known as pan tres leche. It is a sponge cake (think light like Angel Food Cake) that is soaked in three kinds of milk including evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream. You poke holes in the cake and then pour the milk mixture over it.
It is a very light cake with many air bubbles and this distinct texture is why it does not have a soggy consistency despite being soaked in milk.
It’s popular in Mexican and Latin America along with many areas in the United States and often served at Mexican restaurants.
Ingredients for the Cake
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Room temperature eggs
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Whole milk or 2% milk
Ingredients for Tres Leche Milk
- Evaporated milk
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Heavy cream
- Ground cinnamon
- Vanilla extract
How to Make the Cake
Dry ingredients: Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Separate the eggs: Crack the eggs and separate the yolks from the whites – you will use both for the cake, so keep them in two separate bowls.
Beat the yolks: Add the sugar to the yolks and beat them until the mixture is pale yellow. Stir in the milk and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Whip the egg whites: Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar while beating. Continue beating the whites until they hold stiff peaks. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter.
Bake the cake: Spread the batter in a prepared baking pan. Bake it for 35 to 45 minutes at 350°F and then remove it from the oven. Place the pan on a baking rack so the cake can cool.
How to Make the Milk Soak
Mix: Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream in a large bowl. Stir in the cinnamon and vanilla.
Poke: Once the cake is completely cooled, use a skewer to poke holes in the top.
Pour: Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the top. Continuing drizzling the mixture over the top until the cake has soaked up all of the milk.
Whipped Cream Topping
To make the topping, whip heaving cream until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue whipping the cream until it holds stiff peaks.
Spread the whipped cream over the top of the cake and dust the top with cinnamon. Decorate with fresh fruit and serve!
What does tres leches cake taste like?
It’s sweet and very rich. The sponge absorbs the milk giving the cake a moist texture.
Should tres leche cake be wet?
The sponge can hold a lot of moisture so the cake shouldn’t be wet and mushy, but it will be very moist!
Does it need to be refrigerated?
Yes, if you make it ahead you should keep it chilled. Leftovers should be kept in the refrigerator, too.
- You can bake the cake a day ahead, let it cool, and then wrap it in plastic wrap. The next day, add the milk soak and topping.
- There’s nothing better than homemade whipped cream frosting – if you want lots of tips for making your own whipped cream, be sure to check out my whipped cream recipe post!
- Try switching up the fruit for this Mexican cake – this is really nice in the summer when you can get amazing fresh fruit! Try decorating with fresh cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or even sliced peaches.
I hope you give this tres leches cake a try – it’s definitely a treat and will wow your friends and family! Be sure to try some of my other cake recipes, too!
More Recipes to Try!
- Apple Dulce de Leche Cake is an easy recipe made with apple pie filling, and rich dulce de leche!
- Need a quick dessert that’s bursting with flavor? My Strawberry Upside-Down Cake only requires a boxed mix plus a few more ingredients, so it’s so easy to make.
- Lemon Poppyseed Cake is light, fluffy, and topped with a sweet glaze. It’s great for dessert or as a snack!
- Learn how to make Churros! They’re fried donuts that are so delicious dipped in chocolate.
- This quick and easy Pineapple Cake starts with a yellow cake mix!
- Chocolate Angel Food Cake with Strawberry Sauce – Homemade Chocolate Angel Food Cake That Starts with a Boxed Mix! Topped with Homemade Strawberry Sauce!
- Skinny Strawberry Banana Ice Box Cake Recipe – Easy, Traditional Ice Box Cake Recipe Stuffed with Bananas, Strawberries, Graham Crackers and Vanilla Pudding!
- Tender, delicious homemade Sour Cream Coffee Cake with a cinnamon pecan filling and topping.
Try it and love it? Rate it, please!!!? Seriously though, a five-star rating below will make my day!
If you snap a photo, please be sure to tag me on Instagram at @julieseatsandtreats or #julieseatsandtreats so I can see your yummy dessert!!
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 5 large eggs room temperature
- 1 c. granulated sugar divided
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅓ c. milk whole or 2%
- 12 oz evaporated milk (1 can)
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
- ⅓ c. heavy cream
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 c. chilled heavy whipping cream
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tsp clear vanilla extract
- Fresh fruit
- Cinnamon and sugar mixture
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9×13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, dust with flour and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
- In two different bowls, separate egg whites and yolks.
- In the bowl with egg yolks add ¾ cup granulated sugar and beat until pale yellow. Stir in ⅓ cup milk and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
- Add egg yolk mixture to the bowl with the flour mixture and stir gently to combine.
- Take the bowl with the egg whites and beat egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Fold egg white mixture into the batter gently just until combined.
- Spread evenly in prepared pan.
- Bake at 350 F degrees for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle of cake comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and cool cake pan on wire rack.
- Place large mixing bowl and beater in freezer to chill for frosting
- In a medium bowl, combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream, stir in cinnamon and vanilla extract until well combined.
- When cake is completely cool, poke small holes in cake using a fork or skewer.
- Slowly drizzle milk syrup over cake, allowing it to soak in. Set cake aside.
- Remove bowl and beaters from freezer. Add whipping cream to bowl and beat on high speed until soft peaks form
- Add powdered sugar and vanilla and continue beating on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Sprinkle a cinnamon sugar mixture or put fresh fruit on top of cake before serving if desired.
- Serve immediately or place in refrigerator until ready to serve. Store leftovers in refrigerator.