Tres Leches Cake

Sweet Week continues with a cake I had never made nor tasted before. A friend’s girlfriend was a big fan of the cake, and since we were hosting a party the same day as her birthday, I volunteered to make the cake. I can’t make any claims as to how authentic this cake is or isn’t since I have very little experience with it, but it did taste good. I would actually like to make just the cake part again and maybe even leave off the milk mixture. Some sort of buttercream frosting with it?? It was a moist cake even without the milk.

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When I made the cake, I wanted to make it a layer cake even though I could only find recipes that made it in a 9 x 13 pan. It didn’t take too many adjustments, and now you can make a pretty layer cake! As I said before, you might want to get fancy and use other frosting recipes, but then I would omit the milk soak. The whipped cream frosting works with this because it is light enough to not distract from the cake.

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Directions for Tres Leches Cake

Slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Milk Mixture

  • 14 ounces (1 can) sweetened-condensed milk
  • 12 ounces (1 can) evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Warm the condensed milk in the microwave for a few minutes on 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds.

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When the milk has thickened a bit, stop and whisk in the evaporated milk, cream, and vanilla. Set aside to cool.

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Cake

  • 10 ounces flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 14 ounces sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare two 8-inch cake pans with parchment circles and baking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon.

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Heat the milk and butter together in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted.

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Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

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With your mixer, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 30 seconds, then gradually add in the sugar. Continue to beat for about 6 minutes until the mixture is thick and voluminous.

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Turn the speed to low, then pour the butter mixture into the eggs. After 30 seconds, add the flour in 2 additions, taking about 30 seconds.

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Beat the batter for 30 more seconds on medium speed.

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Use a spatula to make sure everything is well-incorporated. Then, pour the batter into the two baking pans.

Mine didn't need smoothing because it was pretty liquidy.

Mine didn’t need smoothing because it was pretty liquidy.

Smooth the tops and tap the pans on the counter. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing.

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Place the cake pans inverted onto a rimmed baking sheet. Place the layers on top of the cake pans. Use a cake skewer (or chopstick) to poke about 25 holes in each cake layer.

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Then, pour and brush the milk mixture onto the cake layers.

I know, no cake pans, but learn from what I didn't do!

I know, no cake pans, but learn from what I didn’t do!

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Allow them to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and place the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator for about 3 hours (to cool the cake and let the milk mixture absorb).

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Frosting

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Beat the heavy cream, corn syrup, and vanilla with a mixer until stiff peaks form.

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Spread some of the frosting on top of a cake layer, then top with the other layer.

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Finish frosting the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

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Directions for Tres Leches Cake (without pictures)

Slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Milk Mixture

  • 14 ounces (1 can) sweetened-condensed milk
  • 12 ounces (1 can) evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Warm the condensed milk in the microwave for a few minutes on 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds. When the milk has thickened a bit, stop and whisk in the evaporated milk, cream, and vanilla. Set aside to cool.

Cake

  • 10 ounces flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 14 ounces sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare two 8-inch cake pans with parchment circles and baking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Heat the milk and butter together in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

With your mixer, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 30 seconds, then gradually add in the sugar. Continue to beat for about 6 minutes until the mixture is thick and voluminous. Turn the speed to low, then pour the butter mixture into the eggs. After 30 seconds, add the flour in 2 additions, taking about 30 seconds. Beat the batter for 30 more seconds on medium speed.

Use a spatula to make sure everything is well-incorporated. Then, pour the batter into the two baking pans. Smooth the tops and tap the pans on the counter. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. Place the cake pans inverted onto a rimmed baking sheet. Place the layers on top of the cake pans. Use a cake skewer (or chopstick) to poke about 25 holes in each cake layer. Then, pour and brush the milk mixture onto the cake layers. Allow them to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and place the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator for about 3 hours (to cool the cake and let the milk mixture absorb).

Frosting

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Beat the heavy cream, corn syrup, and vanilla with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Spread some of the frosting on top of a cake layer, then top with the other layer. Finish frosting the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

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10 thoughts on “Tres Leches Cake

  1. I was watching Cook’s Country (maybe last week?) and they made this. I’m definitely curious about it too. I was at a x’mas party last year when a group of people were talking about how much they love tres leche cake. I’ve never had it but apparently, it is “heavenly” according to anyone who’s ever tasted it. I’m impressed you were able to stack them into a layer cake despite all that moisture. Lucky birthday girl!

  2. It looks super moist! I’ve never tasted one either – how does it taste diff from regular cake? I’ve been hunting for something to do with coconut water so might make attempt a tres leches variation…

    • It basically tastes almost like horchata in cake form, I felt like…dairy/milky and spiced. The texture is also a lot wetter than regular cakes, so it’s almost like the chocolate pudding cakes (you know, when you add boiling water to them and they magically form their own sauce as they bake).

      • It’s nothing too serious, :3 it’s just that the temperatures in the oven don’t seem to match what you set the dial to, and the heating is uneven. Although I have figured out what sort of temperatures to test with cupcakes and biscuits, I haven’t figured out what works for cakes. So cakes are a bit difficult for me to make right now. But I’m saving up all these great recipes for when we move house and get a new oven. 😀

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