Tres Leches Cake (Three Milk cake)

Chocolate has always been my favorite when it comes to cakes, but one in a while, there comes a cake which takes you totally by surprise. Its that time when you have to put down everything you are doing and concentrate on the cake. Grab it by spoonfuls and let the flavors create havoc on your taste-buds. That’s exactly what happens when you put a spoonful of juicy, milky piece of tres-leches cake in your mouth. You don’t want to let it go.

This tres leches cake is basically a sponge cake and it means a cake with three types of milk in Spanish. Whole milk, evaporated milk and condensed milk. Even four, if you use some heavy cream or whip up some cream to make the icing. Oh the goodness of milk. Very healthy too, mind you 😉

When we were at our cousins house in US, we got this cake from a departmental store. 3 pieces amongst the four of us. 3 big pieces. 4 spoons. Gone in 2 minutes. We were so hooked on to it, that for a long time we contemplated driving back there and getting another batch of the sweet milky cake. With a cherry on top.

Nevertheless, the very next day one of our friends claimed to know a baker, who used to make tres leches cake regularly in their bakery in Downtown Chicago. I immediately called her up and took this god-damn-fantastic recipe from her. Even without the milk topping, this one is classic ultra sponge cake.

The type and varieties of milk available in US is slightly different from the ones that we get here, so I had to make a few changes to the recipe. Their stores sell evaporated milk in cans just like we get condensed milk here. But Indians have been making sweets out of evaporated milk for ages, and it can easily be made at home.

It is better to make this cake at least 4-5 hours in advance so that the milks has time to settle down. By nature, the cake turns out quite sweet, but you can very easily alter the condensed milk quantity and substitute it with evaporated milk to make it less sweet (see note).

A very soft, juicy (juicy? yeah!) cake with many air bubbles. That is what gives the cake a light texture even after being soaked in three kinds of milk.

Tres leches cake

Tres Leches Cake (Three Milk Cake) recipe

Serves : 10-12 people Time : 40 mins + 35 mins baking time

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 eggs, egg yolk and whites separated
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 litre milk divided in 1/3 cup milk + rest for making evaporated milk OR 1/3 cup milk and 1 can of evaporated milk
  • 1 can (400 gms) condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

Method :

  1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and keep aside.
  2. With a hand mixer or in a mixer, beat egg yolks with 3/4 cups of sugar on high-speed till yolks are pale yellow. Stir in the 1/3 cup of milk and vanilla.
  3. In a thick bottomed pan, boil the remaining milk for about 30-40 minutes on medium flame, till it is reduced to about 1 and 1/2 cup of milk.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 180°C (250°F). Generously grease a 9 inch tall pan and set aside,
  5. Pour egg yolk mixture over flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
  6. Quickly wash the mixer or blender and in another bowl beat egg whites on high-speed till soft peaks form. The egg whites will increase almost 6-7 times in volume.
  7. With mixer on, pour remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat it till egg whites are stiff, but not dry.
  8. Now fold the egg white mixture into the batter very gently. Mix until just combined.
  9. Pour it into the prepared pan and spread it to create an even surface.
  10. Bake at 175°C for 35-40 minutes, till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  11. Turn cake on a rimmed platter and allow it to cool completely.
  12. Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream (optional). When cake has cooled, pierce it all over with a fork.
  13. Drizzle the cake with the milk mixture, and allow it to absorb for 30 minutes to an hour.

Garnish with chopped cherries on top while serving.

Tres Leches cake FG

Note :

  1. If you want to make it less sweeter, take only 1/2 can condensed milk, 2 cups evaporated milk and half cup whole milk to drizzle on the cake.
  2. When making evaporated milk at home, there will be a lot of heavy cream particles. Pulse it in a mixer to make a smooth consistency.
  3. Make sure to pour the liquid over the edges of the cake. We don’t wanna miss any tiny part, do we?

Interesting read : Is Tres-leches the new Tiramisu?

10 thoughts

  1. hi just a bit confused, as the recipe says 1/3 cup milk & 1 cup evaporated milk…so how come you say add 3/4 cup of milk to be added with vanilla??also if i use ready made evaporated milk i dont have to reduce the milk right???


    1. Hi Sarah, Thanks for pointing out. I have made the correction. Stir in the 1/3rd cup milk with vanilla.
      And you can directly use the can of evaporated milk, no need to reduce milk.


  2. Hi Rutvika, This one looks sinfully tempting. I’ve been going through your posts since yesterday and have made a note of everything that I am going to be making from June. I am between houses now and the oven is all packed and sealed. Just a quick question – evaporated milk is the same as the unsweetened khova that we get? And what would be 1 can in cups / grams?

    As a fellow blogger, I just wanted to appreciate the effort that has gone into this blog. Take a bow!


    1. Thank you very much Deepa 🙂 Evaporated milk is still liquid in consistency, not the solid khoa. You can take 1 litre of milk – 1/3 cup and then boil the remaining it till it becomes about 2/3rd up of thick milk. And it is not used in baking, only to spread over the cake to soak it well. So the idea is to not keep it very liquid but thicker. You can even experiment with different mixture of condensed and regular milk. 🙂


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