Tres Leches Cake

by isabelcanosa


When I was young and care free and gap yaaaaaaaring around Asia, coffee was usually served with condensed milk. At the time I didn’t like coffee, but I did enjoy spoonful after spoonful of condensed milk (to keep my travel partner and her coffee company……of course). I think that is maybe why I came back from travelling with ‘more baggage’ than I left with!

This recipe for Tres Leches Cake from Pioneer Woman (lives on a remote cattle ranch in Oklahoma, has a massive kitchen/family, calls her husband Marlboro Man and has her own television show…..what a life!) not only contains a tin of my beloved (yet addictive) condensed milk, but also evaporated milk and cream (so not for the lactose intolerant I’m afraid).

The Tres Leches cake, (which is very popular in Central and Southern America, hence the name; ‘Tres Leches’, meaning ‘three milks’ in Spanish) has a very light sponge cake base which acts, well… a sponge, soaking up the three milks which are poured over the cake after baking.  The magic of this is that it doesn’t become soggy, but just extremely moist and seriously delicious. I brought the leftover into work the next day and my colleagues each had three squares; breakfast, lunch and dinner!


Pioneer Woman decorates each of her squares with a Maraschino cherries but I have never been a fan of them (unless they are in a cocktail!) so I sprinkled Demerara sugar on the top just before serving. Make sure you sprinkle the sugar on last minute otherwise it dissolves into the cream leaving little brown marks, yum!


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Makes 12 squares

125g plain flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp.  salt
5 eggs separated
225g sugar, divided
1 tsp.  vanilla extract
80ml (1/3 cup) milk
1 can (170g) Evaporated Milk
1 can (170g) Condensed Milk
60ml (1/4 cup) Heavy Cream

500ml Double cream
3 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp. Demerara sugar

To begin, grease a 9 x 13 inch square pan and preheat the oven to 180°C.

In a large bowl combine the flour baking powder, and salt and set aside. In your mixer whisk the egg yolks with 170g of the sugar on high until the mixture becomes a soft, pale yellow. Mix in the milk and vanilla and pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients, stirring lightly until just combined.

Clean the bowl of your mixer (making sure it’s very clean as the egg whites will react to any grease; I sometimes run half a lemon onto the surface of the bowl to counteract any grease that may be there, but only if I’m feeling particularly finicky).

Whisk the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Turn your mixer down to medium-low and gradually add the remaining sugar. Return the speed to high and whisk until stiff peaks form; be careful not to over whisk.

Add the egg whites to the batter mixture and gently fold them in; trying not to lose too much volume. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and gently spread to create an even surface.

Bake in the oven for 35 – 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle, comes away clean. Turn the cake out onto a rimmed platter or dish (I only had an old metal drinks tray for this) and leave to cool.

While the cake is cooling add the condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream into a jug and stir to combine. Once the cake has cooled, prick the surface all over with a fork and slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the entire cake, including the edges. You will probably be left with about a cup of the milk mixture that can’t be absorbed. Leave cake to absorb the mixture for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile whisk your heavy cream with the 3 tablespoons of sugar until it is nice and thick but still spreadable.  Once the cake has absorbed the liquid, spread the cream over the top. When you are ready to serve sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar and cut into 12 squares.

This kept in my fridge for about 3 days before it started getting a little fridgey/bleurrgh.