Tres Leches Cake

One of my favorite sweets is Tres Leches — three milks — cake. I wanted to serve it at the Fiesta Bridal Shower because all the food had a South-of-the-Border theme.

3 milks and vanilla

I decided to use the recipe from “Cook’s Country”. My notes are in green.


Milk Mixture:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Milk mixture: Pour the condensed milk into a microwave-safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on medium-low, stirring often and replacing the plastic wrap several times, until slightly darkened and thickened, 9 to 15 minutes. I heated the condensed milk in 2-minute intervals at 20-30% for a total of 12 minutes.  It was thick and caramelly.

I used a 4-cup measuring cup to heat the sweetened condensed milk in the microwave.

Gradually whisk in the evaporated milk, cream and vanilla.

The milk mixture is about one quart.

Set aside to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Milk and butter

Heat the milk, butter and vanilla in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted. In a large bowl whip the eggs with an electric mixer on medium-high speed and gradually add the sugar; beat 1 minute. Increase speed and whip until the mixture is very thick and voluminous, 4 to 8 minutes longer.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add the melted butter mixture, beating until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture in two additions, beating until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and whip the batter until fully combined and smooth, about 30 seconds.

Scrape batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and gently tap the pan on the work surface to settle it.

At this point in the cooking the toothpick came out covered with batter and I wasn’t sure it would cook all the way through.

The batter is thin. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

The toothpick test works well.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

I used an 8″ by 13″ pan which was a little small.

Using a skewer, poke about 50 holes in the warm cake (you do not need to poke all the way through).

I didn’t know how 4-cups of milk mixture would fit into the cake-filled pan but it did.

Slowly pour the cooled milk mixture over the cake. Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes, then refrigerate until the milk is completely absorbed and the cake has cooled completely, about 3 hours.  I refrigerated the cake overnight.

Frosting: Let the cake sit at room temperature 30 minutes. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream, corn syrup and vanilla in a medium bowl to soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. I used commercial vanilla syrup instead of corn syrup and vanilla. Spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cake and serve.

Cover the cake with sweetened whipped cream.

Instead of spreading the cake with the soft cream I whipped it a little stiffer and piped it on the cake with a pastry bag. I used more than one cup of heavy cream to finish covering the entire cake. Makes 18 servings.

We served the Tres Leches Cake with diced mangoes and strawberries.

Four people asked for the recipe and everybody else said it was delicious.

Do you have a favorite recipe?


Author: Jo

Welcome to The Glade, where the second generation of renovations has just begun and the mania about our home, music and other passions fill our days and nights. We’re Charlie and Jo in the music world; Mary Jo and Charles to family; and JoJo and Charlie to each other. We are renovating a midcentury house in a Victorian historic district where we want to live there the rest of our lives. It's a 1946 house located in Maryland. We were married in this house. Thus far (pre-blog) we refinished cabinets, added a window seat (still working on the cushion), rearranged a wall in the guest house due to sink/vanity replacement, planted a vegetable garden, and other quick and not-so-quick fixes. So this latest zeal for construction is the result of my having lived here since 1997 and feeling a need to ready the house for the next chapter and beyond.

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