Tres leches cake

The first time I made tres leches, I baked cupcakes. Speedy and the girls loved it so much that they have been asking me to make tres leches cupcakes again. But I didn’t because the process of brushing the hot cupcakes with the three-milk mixture was such a messy affair.

For those of you who missed the cupcake version, tres leches refers to a cake popular in South America. A sponge cake that, while still hot, is poked with holes then soaked in a mixture of cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. As a result, the light and airy sponge turns into a dense and velvety cake. Understandable why it should be such a crowd-pleaser.

So, after several pleas, and after coffee and dessert at MOMO Cafe, I was finally inspired. No tres leches cupcakes this time. Instead, a regular-sized cake. I would bake it the way I did the rum cake with limoncello. In a bundt pan. That should work perfectly, I figured, since tres leches cake is basically a chiffon cake and chiffon cakes bake evenly in tube-type pans. The result? Let’s just say that I should have baked two cakes instead of one. That way, Sam wouldn’t have complained that her father ate her share.

casaveneracion.com Tres leches cake

This cake will be an ideal dessert for family get-togethers over the holidays since the cake can be prepared a day ahead. In fact, the tres leches cake is even better after chilling in the fridge overnight.

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs, separated
    1/4 tsp. of baking soda
    1/4 tsp. of salt
    1 c. of white sugar
    1/2 c. (or one half of a 225 g. block) of butter, melted and cooled
    1 c. of all-purpose flour
    3/4 c. of evaporated milk
    1/2 c. of cream
    3/4 c. of sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

    Sift the flour.

    With an electric mixer, over medium speed, beat the egg whites, baking soda and salt until soft peaks.

    Lower the speed of the mixer and add the egg yolks and sugar. Continue mixing until smooth, about 30 seconds.

    Add the butter, folding it in (I used a spatula). Then, mix in the flour in three or four batches, mixing by hand (carefully, so as not to break the precious air bubbles that will add volume to the cupcakes) until the mixture is well blended.

    Pour into an eight or 10-inch bundt pan.

    Bake in a 350F oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a skewer poked at the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.

    While the cake is still hot, poke holes all over it. Use a bamboo skewer or a large fork. When I made the tres leches cupcakes, the holes were too small and it took forever for the three-milk mixture to sink and get absorbed. So, make sure that you have larger holes and that the holes deep enough to reach the bottom of the pan. And poke a lot of holes. Make them as close as one centimeter apart.

    Mix together the evaporated filled milk, cream and sweetened condensed milk. Pour the mixture over the cake, little by little, giving the thick liquid a chance to be absorbed before proceeding to pour some more. Just keep on doing it until all the liquid has been poured.

    Now, the hardest part. Waiting. It is best to chill the cake for a couple of hours. I insisted that we wait. And it was worth the stressful waiting.

    casaveneracion.com Tres leches cake

Quick Notes

When the cake was inverted onto a plate, it was perfect. Whole and golden and very heavy with all the liquid that it has absorbed. Note that I used a silicone bundt pan. Non-stick. And flexible. The cake will have to be inverted onto a plate and the bendable silicone pan could be pushed at the sides and bottom to help release the very wet cake. I don’t know if that’s possible with a regular pan, even if it is lined with wax paper, without breaking the cake.

If you don’t want to take chances, if you’re using a regular round, square or rectangular pan, do not invert the cake at all — cut the cake right inside the pan. And just enjoy.

If you like to prettify your cake, serve the slices with a dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon powder. I did that with the tres leches cupcakes but didn’t have the time to repeat the process when the cake was sliced because everyone was too impatient to eat it.

Cooking time (duration): about 1 hour and 15 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 8

Meal type: dessert





57 Comments

  • dyna says:

    Hi Ms. Connie,

    was wondering if its crusty but moist inside as it looks? and does the shiny outside comes from the tres leches you poured? Can i use injection instead of poking holes?
    it really looks so pretty and yummy i wanna give it a try! thanks

  • stinkee says:

    Salivating just by looking at the yummy cake..sigh..

  • Mrs. Kolca says:

    Ahhh.. pwede po bang mag-apply na tagatikim? This is a very very gorgeous cake. I am excited to try it in my kitchen. Hope it will come out perfectly just like yours. Oppss.. I don’t have a silicone bundt pan yet. Huhuhu.

  • sweetmom says:

    can’t wait to try this miss connie…just wondering where can i get a silicone bundt pan?

  • Marilou Tabangay says:

    do you have to grease and flour the bundt pan?

  • Patricia says:

    Wow that looks just awesome! This will be one of the candidates for my next baking attempt. I made your sinful chocolate cake earlier this week, and I am very heartened by the result. I think I can do this!

    Thanks for sharing Connie! :)

  • Louis says:

    grabeeeee! it looks sooooo yummy! i already asked my wife to bake one for me, just for me!

    salamat po!

    a question though, Alton brown’s recipe calls for whipped cream as topping. do you think that is a bit too much? or will the whipped cream balance the sweetness of the cake?

    thanks again!

  • Shendz says:

    Ms. Connie,

    And to think I’m on diet!!! Oh well (sigh)… As I love the tres leches cupcakes so I reckon this cake must be good and it will be worth cheating… (LOL) It’s human nature to find reasons to cheat when there is this cake you can’t possibly resist. Thank you for a wonderful recipe.

  • Natz SM says:

    Hello Ms. Connie,

    Would wish to ask if you have finally tried the blue silicon pan you purchased for 88 pesos and how it turned out?

    I am deciding whether to buy silicon bake pans and there is a very big price range. Sometimes quite difficult to believe that there are silicon pans for as low as 66 pesos and as high as 500 pesos to even a thousand. I am afraid the “cheaper” ones might not work in which case I would simply stick with what I presently have and cut up the cake straight from the pan as you suggested.

    Thanks!

    • Connie says:

      Used it many, many times! Works fine.

      • Natz SM says:

        Ms. Connie

        I will attempt to bake this as soon as I get my hands on SILICON PANS now that I know that even the less expensive ones work fine.

        It is just so pretty to be able to invert the tres leches into a serving plate. Definitley well worth it.

        Fabulous recipes and great shopping tips all in one blogsite!

        Thanks so much.

  • Natz SM says:

    Ms. Connie,

    Will definitely try this recipe as soon as I get my hands on silicon pans now that I know even the less expensive ones work fine. Just so pretty being able to invert the tres leches into a serving platter!

    Fabulous recipes and great shopping tips all in one site!

    Thanks!

  • Joy says:

    Good job. It looks great.

  • Inah says:

    I wonder if you ever experienced uneven baking in your silicone bundt pan which I have read in several reviews of silicone bakeware.

  • Marilou Tabangay says:

    Hi Connie

    I baked the Tres Leches Cake using a silicone pan and followed all the ingredients and instructions to the letter. Unfortunately, the cake didn’t come off the pan as easily and part of it crumbled. It also didn’t have the nice crusty appearance but it did taste very good. Wouldn’t it have been better to have baked it in a water bath? Where did I go wrong?

    • Connie says:

      Re water bath: Oh, no! Sponge cakes are never baked in a water bath — well, unless there’s a custard (or something similar) at the base.

      I can’t guess where you went wrong. Possibilities: (1) The liquid was not uniformly distributed, ergo, the more wet parts crumbled. (2) The cake was still warm when inverted. (3) The cake was underbaked.

      • marilou tabangay says:

        It’s really a puzzle what could have happened. I followed the 40 minute baking time and chilled the cake overnight. But I sensed that I wouldn’t be able to get the cake out of the pan even at the time when the milk mixture is being absorbed as the cake didn’t pull away from the pan. The texture was soft. That’s when I thought about the 1 cup of flour that the recipe called for.

        • Connie says:

          If the cake didn’t pull away from the pan, are you sure you’re using a silicone pan? Pays to check oven calibration too. And the correct stages in beating egg whites.

          • Marilou Tabangay says:

            I used a silicone pan. I also use an oven thermometer just to make sure that the temperature is right. I am also sure about my egg whites. Guess it must have been underbaked as the sides of the cake were not brown though the top is. Well, try try again.

  • Marilou Tabangay says:

    Further to my earlier note, does it only need 1 cup of flour?

  • shai says:

    thank you for sharing the recipe, i will definitely try this :) just one quick question Ms. Connie, what kind/brand of cream did you use? (all purpose cream)

    Thanks again!

  • Natz SM says:

    I finally tried out the recipe yesterday.

    It was perfect up to until the left overs. We(three of us)managed to finish half of the cake for after dinner dessert and left the other half on the serving platter and put it back in the fridg. When I woke up this morning, the tres leches sort of weeped- there were tell tail signs of the evap-cream-condensed mild mixture separating from the cake that formed a puddle beneath the cake. I suppose that is normal though? Nevertheless, it was fantastic because we ate it all for breakfast!!!

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe Ms. Connie.

  • stephy says:

    Thank you for sharing your recipes and cooking adventures. I really enjoy going through your website.
    I noticed that you mentioned possibility of using wax paper. May I suggest using parchment paper instead? Wax paper has been found to contain pfoa which can be carcinogenic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfluorooctanoic_acid
    Hope this helps in some way.

  • Natz SM says:

    Ms. Connie,

    I love chocolate. Won’t it be wonderful to have a chocolate version of tres leches!!!

    I kind of remember seeing chocolate condensed milk when I was younger but couldn’t see this product anymore. Chocolate all purpose creme was available up to last Christmas.

    Just can’t wait to try it out. :)

  • Natz SM says:

    Ms. Connie,

    Ooops…right after posting my previous comment about how wonderful it would be to have a chocolate version of tres leches, I made a google search and what do you know- there were already many recipes for it! (and I thought I had an original idea)

    Anyway, for the benefit of those chocolate lovers, a chocolate version of tres leches could basically be made by:

    1. Using a chocolate cake recipe like Devil’s Food cake and soaking the cake with the evap milk+cream+condensed milk mixture.

    2. Using the cake recipe of Ms. Connie then soaking the cake in chocolate infused evap milk+cream+condensed milk mixture.

    and the BEST…

    3. Using a chocolate cake and soaking it with the chocolate infused evap milk+cream-condensed milk mixture.

    Yummy!

  • inah says:

    i baked this cake in a silicone bundt pan. i followed the procedure except i did not preheat the oven as called for and instead of 35-40 mins baking, i baked it for 1 hr to 1 hr 10 mins. the cake turned out perfectly, very moist and tasty. my family can’t get enough of it.

  • Andrea says:

    I wonder if this would work with loaf pans. I don’t have a bundt pan and my cake tins are currently out with a friend. Muffin tins aren’t an option either. I’m going to try it out right now xD

  • Joana says:

    Hi, I really want to make these for our Christmas party, but I’m wondering if Japan Home’s silicon bakeware are oven-safe. You did say that they were thin, and I’m having second thoughts. I love your recipes so much and I made your tres leches cake before, but now I need them attractive as well.

  • docs says:

    thank u ms. connie for sharing. it was delicious :)

    i tried it but using my known version recipe of chiffon cake. i previously used your recipe but i guess i didn’t follow it correctly thus may cake did not turn out well. (my bad!) di po sya umalsa. i think sa beating ng egg whites ako nagkamali.

    i just want to share that i used a regular round cake pan. i put a clean bond paper and cooking oil before putting the cake mixture. after baking i inverted the cake onto a plate. removed the bond paper then put it back to the cake. i turned back the cake to the pan before pouring the milk mixture to the cake. i left it over night and tried to invert it again onto a plate. it did not stick to the pan. :)

    thanks ms. connie. for the tres leches! :)

  • Shannon says:

    Another recipe I found online called for inverting the cake out of the pan before soaking it, which would prevent it from falling apart. Do you think this would work? I don’t want to buy a silicone bundt pan. Thanks!

    • Connie says:

      The cake won’t fall apart if you invert it before soaking. The problem is how will it be able to keep in all the liquid unless it is contained snugly while the liquid is being poured.

  • JANICE says:

    hi ms connie! do you need to pour the batter mixture half full only in the pan? i hope you can post the pic of the step by step procedure in making the batter. thanks!

    • Connie says:

      “do you need to pour the batter mixture half full only in the pan?”

      Just about as the batter rises tremendously during baking.

      You can check the step-by-step photos in the tres leches cupcake recipe.

  • lei says:

    hi ms. connie, i dint have electric mixer, can i just used wire whisk or blender? thanks

  • Maadhu says:

    Hello,loved your tres leches cake..yummmm..u have mentioned 1cup for flour n sugar..Can u tel me 1 cup holds how much ml? Mine is 140 ml..also what is evaporated milk?? Can plz clarify me..thanks in advance:)

  • Nash says:

    Ms. Connie, this tres leches cake looks sooooooooo yummy! I want to try it this New Year. By the way, what’s the size of the bundt pan that you used?

  • Carolyn says:

    Hi..may I know what type of cream are u referring to ?

  • mel says:

    ms. connie, been trying out your recipes: beef in fruity red wine, osso buco, but the winner is.. the tres leches cake! sobrang sarap hahaha! i used an icing maker to inject the 3 milk and it was very easy… at the first bite of the cake, my hubby and 6 year old daughter asked me to bake another one hahaha :-) thank you for sharing the delicious recipes!

  • patricia says:

    did this today, and my family were surprised on how delicious a simple looking cake would be. thanks ms connie!

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