Perfectly Moist Tres Leches Cake
Updated: Jul 16
Tres leches cake gets its name from the perfect combination of three milks that is used to soak the cake creating these perfect moist yet still crumbly cake. Puerto Ricans love this cake and you can usually find it listed as one of the dessert options in most restaurants in Puerto Rico. Now, you can easily make it at home any time you want!
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 medium eggs (or 5 large eggs)
1 cup sugar divided into 3/4 and 1/4 cups
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
12 oz evaporated milk
9 oz sweetened condensed milk (2/3 of a 14 oz can)
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1.75 oz of white chocolate pudding mix (½ packet)
½ cup whole milk
1 cup berries to garnish, optional
Start by turning on your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, so it will be ready once we finish preparing the mix.
The next step is to separate the eggs. Crack the first egg and use your hands to separate the white from the yolk. Once separated, place the egg white into the mixing bowl of the electric mixer. I choose not to crack the egg whites directly into the mixing bowl just in case something goes wrong when I crack the egg, whether the egg is bad, I break the yolk, there’s blood in the egg or I get shell pieces into the bowl. All of those have happened to me and with this technique, I minimize my losses since I only put each egg white into the mixing bowl, once I know that it is good to go. Repeat this process for each egg. Save all the egg yolks in a separate bowl and set aside.
Once you are done separating the eggs, place the mixing bowl into the electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, this should take about 1 minute. With the mixer still on, slowly pour in 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating on high speed until the egg whites are stiff but not dry, this should take another minute or so. At this point, the egg whites will resemble shaving cream.
Once the egg whites are ready, set aside. We will now mix the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to combine, then set aside.
After the dry ingredients are all mixed, then we will prepare the egg yolk mixture. In a large bowl, add the egg yolks with the remaining ¾ cup of sugar and mix with a handheld mixer on medium until the yolks are a light yellow and creamy. This will take a couple of minutes.
After the yolks are light in color and creamy, add the vanilla and mix for a few seconds and then add the milk and mix for another 30 seconds until everything is incorporated. Use a spatula to clean the edges of the bowl and mix one more time. Once this mixture is ready, add the flour mixture to the egg yolks and mix slowly with a spatula. Be careful not to overmix, but make sure that there are no flour lumps in the mix.
We will finalize the cake batter by adding the egg yolk mixture on top of the egg whites. Then, fold it all gently with a spatula. You want to be careful not to over mix and deflate the egg whites, since this is what will make the cake airy and spongy. Continue mixing until all of the mixture is well incorporated.
Once the cake batter is ready, prepare a 9x13 baking pan by spraying it with some non stick baking spray. Then pour the cake mixture into the pan. Try to make sure that the mixture is poured evenly. You can use a spatula to level the top, this will help ensure that the cake has a flat top, which will make it a lot easier to decorate. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
While you wait for the cake to bake, prepare the milk mixture by adding the evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream to one bowl. Whisk them to combine, making sure that they are all well incorporated. Place this mixture in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
For the frosting, start by adding the milk and pudding mix in a small bowl and combine thoroughly with a whisk. Set it aside. Now, place the whipping cream in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment and mix on high until it is thick, this will take a couple of minutes. Once the cream is thick, add the pudding mixture into the bowl and fold it with a rubber spatula until it is all well incorporated and it has the texture of frosting.
This next step is optional but if you want to pipe your frosting then prepare a piping bag by cutting the tip and adding a piping tip. Then fill the bag with the frosting and save it in the fridge until ready to use.
I am decorating my tres leches with strawberries but this is also completely optional. I really enjoy the flavor combination of the tres leches and strawberries plus the strawberries have been really good this summer here in Florida, so I put them in almost everything. Wash your strawberries thoroughly and cut as you wish, here I just cut mine in half.
After 25 minutes, test the cake by inserting a toothpick or cake tester in the middle of the cake. Once it comes out clean, then the cake is ready. Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for about 1 hour. Once cooled, poke the cake with a fork. You will see that the top skin of the cake will start to get stuck to the fork. . Remove all of that top layer from the cake and throw it away, this will allow your cake to soak more mixture.
Poke the cake top with a fork all over again and evenly pour the milk mixture over the cake. Cover the cake and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour but up to 6 hours.
When you are almost ready to serve the cake, remove the cake from the fridge and decorate your cake. I am piping rosettes on mine, but you can do any design that you like or no design at all. You can just evenly top the cake with the whipped cream frosting. This is all purely preference so get creative and try out different things!
If you want to try piping the rosettes like I did. Use a Wilton 1M piping tip. To make a rosette, position the piping tip where you want the centre of the first rose to be. Pipe the center, then move the tip in a counter-clockwise spiral around the center. Release pressure on the piping bag, then pull the tip away. Repeat this same process for all the rosettes, the key is to apply consistent pressure on the bag as you are piping. You can change the size of the rose depending on how small or large you make that spiral around the center.
Once the cake is covered with the frosting then put the berries on top. Again, this is purely a preference matter, so you cannot go wrong. I got a little carried away with mine, but I didn't want to waste any of those delicious strawberries.
You are now ready to enjoy your cake!
Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.