Home Desserts Pastel de Tres Leches (3 Milks Cake)

Pastel de Tres Leches (3 Milks Cake)

Pastel de Tres Leches is one of the best cakes I’ve tried. Ever. And I’m so excited to share my recipe with you!

It’s a sponge cake, poked with holes and soaked in three kinds of milk. How delectable does that sound?!

And I love how easy it is to make, too. Even if you overbake the cake a little, that’s where the milk mixture comes in. You seriously can’t go wrong.

So, if you’re looking for a show-stopping dessert, the search is over. Pastel de Tres Leches is the winner!

Pastel de Tres Leches (3 Milks Cake) featuring A plate of pastel de tres leches with a fork and strawberries, perfect for indulging in a sweet treat
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What Is Pastel de Tres Leches?

Pastel de Tres Leches translates to “cake of three milks” in Spanish. It’s a sponge cake infused with three kinds of milk: condensed, evaporated, and heavy cream.

The cake absorbs the milk mixture, giving it its signature moist texture. It’s like custard or pudding- rich but not soggy.

Serve it with whipped cream, cinnamon, and fresh berries on top for a light post-meal treat.

Pastel de tres leches is also called milk cake, Mexican cake, and tres leches cake.

Pastel De Tres Leches Ingredients - Flour, Eggs, Sugar, Baking Powder, Milk, Vanilla Extract and Fresh Berries

Ingredients

Sponge Cake:

  • Flour- This base ingredient forms the cake structure. Sift the flour and measure it accurately for the best results.
  • Eggs- Separate the yolks and whites for this recipe. Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks. This will help make the batter rise into a tall, fluffy cake.
  • Sugar- To sweeten the cake. You only need simple white granulated sugar.
  • Baking Powder- For added lift.
  • Milk- To saturate the dry ingredients and create a liquid batter. Milk also adds richness to the cake.
  • Vanilla Extract- Adds depth of flavor.

Tres Leches Mixture:

  • A combination of three kinds of milk– Evaporated, sweetened condensed milk, and whipping cream. You will pour this over the warm cake.

For Serving: Whipped cream, cinnamon, and fresh berries.

How to Make Pastel de Tres Leches

If you enjoy creamy, rich cakes, like my go-to hot milk cake, I know you’ll like this recipe. Here’s how to make it:

1. Prep. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease your dish.

You’ll serve the cake in the baking dish. So, you may want it to be on the fancier side. A glass or ceramic casserole will be perfect here.

2. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. This step is crucial for the sponge. It makes it tall, light, and airy. 

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Once separated, beat the egg whites for 1 minute or until foamy. While beating, gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until stiff peaks form.

3. Add the remaining wet ingredients. Add the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla. Beat until well combined.

4. Carefully mix in the dry ingredients. Add the sifted flour and baking powder to the mixture. Do this 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing gently with a rubber spatula as you do. 

Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to mix in all the ingredients. Be careful not to overmix. 

Stop mixing as soon as you no longer see streaks of flour.

5. Bake the sponge cake. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool on a wire rack.

6. Make the tres leches mixture. Combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and cream. 

7. Poke the cake and pour the milk. Poke the cake all over with a fork. But be careful not to go all the way through. 

Otherwise, the milk mixture will seep into the bottom. Pour the milk mixture over the warm cake.

8. Chill the cake. This is the hardest part! Let the cake cool to room temp and then chill it. The cake needs at least 1 hour of sitting in the fridge. 

This will allow it to absorb the milk and turn it into a moist, custard-like treat. If you can wait longer, let the cake chill overnight. 

Trust me, it is worth the wait.

9. Serve and enjoy! Slice the cake into squares and serve with whipped cream and cinnamon. You can also add fresh berries. Enjoy!

Sweet Pastel de Tres Leches on a Plate Served with Fresh Strawberries

Tips for the Best Tres Leches Cake

  • Stick to sponge cake. You can use other cake recipes for the base but stick to sponge cake. It’ll absorb the milk mixture well without getting soggy.
  • Measure the flour accurately. A sponge cake is supposed to be airy. Adding more flour than needed will result in a heavy cake. Worse, your cake might not even rise. 
  • Use the spoon and level method. Fluff the flour with a spoon and transfer it into a measuring cup. Level it off with the back of a knife.
  • Separate the eggs while cold. It’s easier. Then, let everything come up to room temperature. 
  • Use a clean and dry bowl and beaters. Any trace of water or oil can keep the egg whites from fluffing up.
  • Don’t overmix the batter. Be ever so gentle in mixing once you’ve added the flour. Overmixing yields a tough and rubbery sponge cake.
  • Use a pretty baking dish. You will use the same dish for serving the cake. A ceramic or glass casserole dish will be perfect.
  • Be sure the cake is level. This ensures the cake absorbs the milk mixture evenly once baked. Pour and spread the batter evenly into the baking dish. Tap the dish on the counter several times to remove any air bubbles.
  • Whipping up your own whipped cream? Freeze the bowl and beaters for 15 minutes. This will help the cream whip faster.
  • Want more stable whipped cream? Add some gelatin. It’ll keep the cream from melting quickly.
Top View of Pastel de Tres Leches Cake in 9x13 inch pan with Whipped Cream and Fresh Strawberries and two slices removed and served on little plates with fresh strawberries

Make-Ahead Tips

Tres Leches is the ideal cake for making ahead of time. It literally NEEDS time to sit. 

Let the cake absorb the tres leches mixture for at least 1 hour before serving it.

But I recommend letting it sit overnight. The longer the cake sits, the better it’ll absorb the milk mixture. And the better it’ll taste.

Make Pastel de Tres Leches up to 1 to 2 days in advance. Cover it with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate. Do not add the toppings yet.

When ready to serve, slice the cake and top with whipped cream, cinnamon, and fresh berries.

How to Store Leftovers

Pastel de Tres Leches will keep well for up to 4 to 5 days in the fridge. It’s supposed to be served cold, so always keep it in the refrigerator.

Be sure to cover the cake with either foil or plastic wrap.

Also, store the cake and toppings separately. 

The whipped cream loses its stability over time. You don’t want a blanket of wet white stuff all over your cake, do you?

Don’t freeze the cake. Remember- there’s milk in this dessert. It’ll have an off-consistency when frozen and thawed, affecting the cake’s texture.

Pastel de Tres Leches (3 Milks Cake)

Servings

12

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

25

minutes
Calories

396

kcal

Pastel de Tres Leches is a classic Latin American dessert that tastes amazing. Moist, creamy, & topped with whipped cream & cinnamon? You can’t get much better.

Ingredients

  • Sponge Cake:
  • 6 eggs, whites and yolks separated

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • Tres Leches Mixture:
  • 1 (14-ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

  • For Serving:
  • 1 cup whipped cream

  • Cinnamon, to taste

  • Sliced fresh strawberries

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 10×15-inch baking dish with non-stick spray or butter.
  • Bake the cake. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer for 1 minute. While continuously beating, gradually add the sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after every addition. Beat in the milk and vanilla extract.
  • Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add it to the mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing gently with a rubber spatula. Stop as soon as streaks of flour disappear.
  • Pour the batter onto the greased baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool on a wire rack.
  • Prepare the tres leches mixture. Mix condensed milk, evaporated milk, and cream until well combined. Transfer it into a large glass with a spout for easy pouring.
  • Poke the cake all over with a knife or fork. Be careful not to poke all the way to the bottom. Pour tres leches evenly over the warm cake. Let it cool to room temp. Then, cover and refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Slice the cake and serve with whipped cream, cinnamon, and strawberry slices on top.

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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