How to Cook Tres Leches Cake

Three Methods:Making the BatterBaking and Assembling the CakeTopping the Cake

Tres leches cake, which translates as "three milks cake" in English, is a popular Mexican dessert made by soaking a yellow cake in sweet, creamy milk. Cinnamon is the traditionally topping for this cake, but it's delicious with many variations. Learn how to make a tres leches cake and choose from several toppings.


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 eggs, large
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1 pinch salt

Method 1
Making the Batter

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    Prepare your baking equipment. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 by 13 baking pan. You could also use a large round cake pan if you wish.
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    Mix the dry ingredients. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Use a whisk to mix the ingredients well.
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    Mix the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Use a whisk or spoon to beat the ingredients. Add the eggs to the sugar mixture one at a time, beating until the mixture becomes light in color and foamy. Stir in the 1/2 cup of milk.
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    Finish the batter. A cup at a time, gently fold the flour mixture into the wet sugar mixture to create a sticky batter. Continue folding the flour mixture in until you can no longer see white bits of flour.
    • Don't overmix the batter at this stage, or the texture of the cake will be dense.
    • Use a spatula or wooden spoon for best results.

Method 2
Baking and Assembling the Cake

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    Bake the cake. Pour the batter into the lightly greased cake pan or baking dish. Place the dish in the oven and bake the cake for 30-40 minutes, or until it feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes, until it comes to room temperature.[1]
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    Poke holes in the top of the cake. Use a fork or skewer to pierce the cake all over the top. The holes will provide entry points for the sweet milk mixture.
    • Don't pierce so much that the top of the cake's texture looks bumpy.
    • Use a fork with thin tines or a thin skewer so you don't pull up crumbs as you poke holes.
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    Make the tres leches mixture. Combine the remaining milk with the sweetened condensed milk, the evaporated milk and the rum in a mixing bowl. Use a whisk to stir the ingredients together completely.
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    Pour the mixture over the cake. Try to pour it evenly across the surface of the cake, letting it seep into the holes you made. Pour those combined ingredients over the cooled cake. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The cake is now ready to eat or complete with a topping.

Method 3
Topping the Cake

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    Make a whipped cream topping. This is a classic topping for tres leches cake, since the texture of the whipped cream is a great contrast to the cake. Place 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and 1/2 cup sugar in a mixing bowl. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Spread the cream over the tres leches cake just before serving.
    • You can flavor the whipped cream with cinnamon, vanilla, lemon, or another favorite flavor.
    • Don't spread the whipped cream topping on the cake until just before you serve it; its texture will suffer if you let it sit out too long or try to refrigerate it first.
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    Make a fruit topping. Tart fruit is another popular topping for tres leches cake. Serve it either over the whipped topping or directly on top of the cake. Choose from among the following fruit combinations:
    • Strawberries and blueberries. Lightly crush the berries and sprinkle them with sugar. Let them sit for 15 minutes, then spread the topping on the cake.
    • Mangos and papayas. Thinly slice a mango and a papaya. Combine the slices in a bowl and sprinkle them lightly with sugar. Spread the fruit topping on the cake when you're ready to serve it.[2]
    • Peaches and cherries. Slice up a peach into thin wedges, and slice cherries into halves and remove the pits. Layer the peaches and cherries over the top of the cake in a pretty pattern.
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  • When baking, the cake will appear too small for an 9"x13" pan, but it will swell considerably when soaked in the milk mixture.
  • After baking the cake will seem hard and dense. That is normal, it is the addition of the milk that turns it sweet and moist.
  • Instead of starting off at pouring the milk on the edges, start pouring in the middle. The bottoms and sides of the cake are going to get most of the milk anyway when you let it sit, you want the middle to also have the same texture and not seem as dry
  • There are a number of flavor variations, through use of different liqueurs, and even by substituting cream of coconut for the sweetened condensed milk.

Things You'll Need

  • Bowl
  • Mixing implements
  • Cake tin
  • Measuring implements

Article Info

Categories: Cakes