A Festive Tres Leches Cake

A couple days ago I made a cake, it was a sponge cake. Now being the unexperienced baker that I am, I didn’t have the faintest idea what sponge cake really was. So a quick google search brought me any needed information. Sponge cake doesn’t have any butter or oil, it get’s it’s texture from whipped egg whites. So let’s move away from this subject for a bit and talk about tres leches cake. When I first saw Pioneer Woman’s post on it, I was intrigued. Tres leches in Spanish directly translates into three milks in English. So after you bake sponge cake and poke holes in it, you pour condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream or whole milk on it — well that sounds good. Real good.


Now this cake is traditionally topped with whipped cream and maraschino cherries. I did use the whipped cream and while I don’t usually enjoy it, it  helped balance the sweetness of the cake with a bit of creaminess. Since it was the fourth of July yesterday, I couldn’t deny myself the opportunity to make it festive, so I quickly ditched the cherries. Instead, I attempted to make a flag with blueberries and strawberries, yes I know it looks pretty crappy, but I prefer to think that it looks nice in a kind of kitschy homemade way.

 Whipped Cream


Tres Leches Cake (Makes one 8-9 in. cake)


4 eggs, room temperature, separated

3/4 cup cake flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Milk Mixture:

One 12 oz. can evaporated milk

One 4 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup whole milk



3/4 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Pinch of salt

Fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, etc.)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F- and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Generously butter the inside and sides of a 8 or 9 inch round cake pan.
  2. Sift the cake flour, and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Use a large whisk to vigorously beat the yolks and sugar until they are pale, thick and creamy. (About 5 minutes.) Stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. In a very clean stand mixer bowl or a large mixing bowl, add the egg whites. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer running- gradually add the sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, pile about one-third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Gently fold them together until smooth. Add half of the flour and continue to gently fold, being careful to not deflate the egg whites. Repeat with another third of egg whites, the rest of the flour, and the last third of whites. Do not over-mix, but batter should be smooth, airy and fluffy.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched or a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. Run a knife around the edge of the cake pan, and invert the cake onto a wire rack. Flip the cake right side up so it can cool.
  8. In a glass measuring cup or bowl, stir together the 3 milks. When the cake has cooled for about 15-20 minutes. Use a fork to make holes all around the top of the cake for maximum milk-soakage.
  9. Place the cake on a large rimmed plate or cake stand. Pour the milk mixture over the cake slowly, letting it soak in before adding more. Make sure to get all around the edges and sides, spooning spilled-over milk back onto the top if necessary. You may not need all the milk, but continue to really drench the cake until you think it’s evenly soaked.
  10. Chill in the fridge for minimum of one hour (I think I chilled mine for about five hours).
  11. Whip cream in a chilled bowl and fold in the powdered sugar. Spoon the cream over the chilled cake and top with fruit.
  12. Serve chilled.

Adapted from the baker chick



3 thoughts on “A Festive Tres Leches Cake

  1. Hi Trina! What a beautiful recipe! I work for POPSUGAR and we would love to include an image of your recipe in a roundup on our Latina site if you’re open to it. Let me know if you’re interested and I can send you my contact info!

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