This Authentic Pastel de Tres Leches Recipe has received many rave reviews at many a party! Tres Leches cake is a sponge cake soaked in a three-milk mixture that makes a moist and spectacular dessert. Serve with whipped cream, cinnamon, and fruit!
Cinco de Mayo is here, and I’ll be honest. I try to find any reason that I can to eat good Mexican food! Especially some Pastel de Tres Leches. I used to get this in San Francisco (well, South City) from a little supermercado. And I prefer it in a simple form – topped with a little whipped cream and cinnamon. They single-served it just my style. It was just fabulous.
Now if you are not a cake eater, this cake might just make you change your mind. The biggest complaint I hear from people that aren’t cake fans, “It’s so dry.” Well, that is true. There are many a dry cake out there that have given cake a bad name. I am not a super huge fan of those types either.
But don’t just give up on cake because you haven’t partaken of it in its finest form. There are, in fact, some fabulously moist and delicious cakes out there. Tres Leches is one of those and a bag of chips! You take a sponge cake (it uses like 9 eggs – yes, very SPONGY), and then let it soak up a sweet milk mixture. Yes, a sponge cake does act like a sponge. It makes the cake incredibly moist and delicious, but miraculously it still all holds together at the same time instead of becoming a soggy mess.
So how do you get a good sponge cake that doesn’t fall apart? First, no butter/oil, and A LOT of eggs. And the second technique I really like is to separate and whip those eggs like crazy! I really recommend making this cake all from scratch, although I once tried taking a cake mix and altering my additions to come up with a quicker version. Maybe it was the brand or the flavor of the cake mix I used (Pillsbury Brand White Cake Mix)….it was still really good, but not great (maybe a different brand or a butter or yellow cake mix would work better). It didn’t really save me that much time either. But, it’s still good to have the option, just in case!
This cake, this cake, this cake. I could sing praises to it all day long. Make it and love it!
Also, shout out to my dog, Dax, for his Cinco de Mayo Golden Birthday! Isn’t that a cute mug?
Authentic Pastel de Tres Leches (Tres Leches Cake)
For the cake:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 9 eggs separated
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
For the milk mixture:
- 1 can evaporated milk 12 ounces
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk 14 ounces
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
For the topping
- 2 cups cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Generously grease two 8x8 non-stick square pans or one 9x13 pan.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, pour in egg whites and beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks are formed.
In another mixing bowl, pour in egg yolks and beat on medium-high speed until creamy and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
Add egg yolks to egg whites, stirring gently so as to not deflate.
Add flour mixture to the egg mixture folding in gently so as to not deflate.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan and cook for 22-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
While the cake is in the oven, mix together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, half-and-half, and vanilla.
Remove the cake from the oven and turn out the two pans onto separate trays with a rim. Cut off edges if desired.
Using a fork, generously poke holes all over in the top of the cakes.
Pour the three-milk mixture onto the HOT cakes, half on each cake, letting it soak in as you are pouring. Make sure to pour around the edges.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or until serve time.
Beat the fresh whipping cream until very thick and spreadable.
Spread the whipped cream onto the cake(s)and then sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve cold.
Change it Up:
Substitute 1 cup milk or cream for the 1 cup half-and-half. Or alternatively, for half-and-half, use 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream.
You may also make this recipe using two 9-inch rounds. If you don't want as much cake, half the recipe for one square or round.
Substitute a boxed-cake mix in place of the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Dress it Up:
Instead of, or in addition to the cinnamon, garnish the cake with fresh sliced strawberries or peaches.
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