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Tres Leches Cake (Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milks Cake)

Tres Leches Cake
Aside from all the other goings on lately, we've been happily celebrating birthdays at our house, as well. My daughters was a couple of weeks ago and mine was a couple of days ago...and one of our universal favorite cakes is a Pastel de Tres Leches...or Three Milks cake.

I have tried countless recipes over the years...and while I've found one or two that I enjoyed...I was never completely satisfied. Lots of times we just ended up ordering one from a Mexican lady we know who has a killer recipe. That has all changed now. I will never get one from somebody else again...I will make them and sell them along with my other Mexican fare from now on!

Tres Leches Cake
Once you've tried this Tres Leches'll never look at a storebought again.  At least not with the same longing eye that you used to ;).
Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake
This tres leches cake recipe is a simple sponge cake soaked in three types of milk and topped with fluffy whipped cream.
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Tres Leches Cake
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: up to 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35-45 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert milk birthday Easter cake Mexican

Ingredients 24 slices (1 - 9"x13" cake)
    for the cake:
    • 1 c. all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 5 eggs, separated
    • 1 c. sugar
    • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    • 1/3 c. whole milk
    for the tres leches (three milks):
    • 1 can (12 fl oz.) evaporated milk
    • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
    • 1/2 c. heavy cream
    for whipped cream:
    • 1 pint (2 c.) heavy cream
    • 3 Tbs. sugar
    • splash of pure vanilla extract

    Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9" x 13" pan liberally with pan spray until well coated on the bottom and sides.

    to make the cake:
    Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

    In a large, deep bowl eat egg yolks with ¾ cup sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until yolks are thick and pale yellow. Carefully add milk and vanilla to bowl and beat on low speed until combined.

    Pour egg yolk mixture over flour mixture and beat quickly until combined. Mixture should be thick, yet look fluffy.

    In another (or the same, cleaned out first) large, deep bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer on, pour in remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

    Fold egg white mixture into yold mixture in thirds. Add the first third and whisk to incorporate, as gently as possible. Then, using a rubber scraper/spatula, add the remaining thirds, one at a time, folding in as gently as possible. Basically, you don't want to deflate your whites. This is what gives the cake its lift.

    Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out surface.

    Slide into your preheated oven and bake for 35-45 minutes (begin checking at 35) or until toothpick comes out clean. Cake will be very high and thick at this point and will have pulled away from the edges of the pan.

    Turn cake out onto a wire rack or a rimmed platter and allow to cool completely. The cake will drastically deflate while it's cooling. Dont' freak out. It's supposed to do that.

    When cake is cool, pierce the surface all over with a skewer or toothpick being sure to get the edges. If it's not already sitting on a rimmed platter, transfer to one now (holes on top).

    adding the tres leches (three milks):
    Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small jar or pitcher.

    Slowly drizzle the mixture all over the top of the cake (this is why you want it sitting on a rimmed platter), being sure to soak the edges as well as the center. Depending on how wet/milky you like your cake, stop when you have about 1 cup (8 floz) of the mixture left. Keep going if you like it extra milky.

    Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. You can refrigerate it at this point, if you like. I like to finish it (frost and garnish) as close to service as possible.

    for the whipped cream topping:
    Whip the heavy cream, sugar, and a splash of vanilla until thick and spreadable. Spread all over the top and sides of the cake.

    Decorate cake as you wish on the top and/or sides with freshly cut fruit of your choice (strawberries, kiwi, raspberries, mango, blackberries, grapes, sliced peaches) or simply a few maraschino cherries.

    Cake will keep for a couple of days, well covered in the refrigerator. Cake gets noticeably wetter the longer it is stored.

    making a layer cake:
    I have made a double-layer Tres Leches cake in a couple of different ways. You can divide this mixture amongst two 8" round cake pans for a smaller (less servings) cake, if you wish.

    Alternately, you can easily double this recipe, though the batter has such volume, that I still only mix one cake up at a time and then follow immediately with a second, baking them together.

    To separate the layers, I will first pour the milk mixture over the bottom layer and allow it to absorb. Then I spread about 1 cup of good quality or homemade preserves across the top of that layer, leaving a bit of space at the edges. I then top with the second layer (holes already poked) and soak this one with the milks. Once it is absorbed, you can spread your whipped cream frosting on the top and sides. You could also fill it with a layer of whipped cream and with or without some fresh fruit stuck inside. I prefer strawberry, peach, or apricot preserves for the center layer.

    -adapted from The Pioneer Woman
    Tres Leches Cake
    Double Layer Tres Leches Cake