Three Milks Cake - Tres Leches

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This cake gets its name from the "three milks" sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream, which are soaked into the cake, making it the most moist and delicious cake you've ever had.

Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 45 mins

Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
Serves: 12 servings


Cake Batter:

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder for sautéing
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs, separated
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

Milk Syrup:

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 and 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 (14-ounce) can evaporated milk
2 tablespoons light rum


4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup water
1 cup light corn syrup
1 and 1/2 cups sugar



Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease and lightly flour a 9 x 13 baking dish. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.

Separate the egg yolks and whites. Beat the whites until very foamy and frothy. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer.

Continue mixing and slowly add the milk. Then start adding the flour mixture, a little at a time, until all the flour is incorporated and the batter is smooth. Finally, use a spatula to gently fold in the beaten egg whites until completely mixed.

Pour batter into a greased and lightly floured 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Allow cake to cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

Now it's time to get fancy. Invert the cake onto a jelly roll pan or a baking tray with a raised edge on it – something to catch the syrup! Use a fork to repeatedly pierce the top of the cake.

Milk Syrup

Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream and rum in a mixing bowl, until well blended. Pour syrup over the cake a little at a time, until it soaks through. This is a cake that demands patience! Pour the milk syrup slowly and let it soak in. Use your fork to help it along a bit, piercing here and there through the syrup until it soaks in. Keep doing this until most of the milk syrup is absorbed. Don't worry if there is still a pool of syrup around the bottom of the cake, it will gradually soak in.
Cover the now syrup-drenched cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours before frosting.


Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar in a large bowl until they form stiff peaks. Set aside. In a separate pan, mix the water, sugar, and corn syrup. Cook over a high heat, stirring constantly until a candy thermometer reads 230°F. Remove from heat. While beating the egg whites with an electric mixer, immediately pour the hot syrup into the egg whites; continue beating for about five minutes. Let frosting cool in refrigerator. With a wet spatula, spread a thick layer of the frosting on the cake. To serve, cut individual squares, top with a red maraschino cherry, and serve cold.
Banana Variation

To make a Banana Tres Leches Cake, add 1/3 cup banana liqueur to the milk syrup, omit rum and reduce the evaporated milk to 3/4 can.
Cuatro Leches

Many Miami restaurants now serve a cuatro leches cake. This is the basic tres leches cake with a topping of dulce de leche (a caramel sauce). If you want to serve this, follow recipe instructions above. Serve the cake in a bowl or round sundae dish. Add a layer of dulce de leche around the sides of the cake in the bowl.


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