This Tres Leches Cake recipe is a traditional Latin cake that's saturated with three different kinds of milk. Topped with whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg, it's certain to make any fiesta sweeter.
Homemade Tres Leches Cake Recipe
What is Tres Leches Cake? If you've never had this traditional Latin dessert you're in for a treat. Tres leches cake is, basically a sponge-like cake that's designed to soak in the flavor of a triple milk combination. The milk combination consisting of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream makes it incredibly moist and the cake basks in it's own pool of creamy deliciousness. It's made very much like our beloved poke cakes here in the South.
How to Make the Best Tres Leches Cake Recipe
If you're planning a Cinco de Mayo celebration or making Mexican night at home with the family, this yummy bakery-style cake will make the ideal sweet finish to the day. Tres Leches Cake is a terrific make ahead dessert that's rich and creamy.
- Ingredients you'll need to make this recipe for Tres Leches Cake: All purpose flour, baking powder, salt, ground nutmeg, butter, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla and rum extract and buttermilk for the sponge cake batter.
- To make the three milk or tres leches combination you'll need: Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream all mixed together then poured onto the warm sponge cake.
- Just like my ever popular coconut cream cake, the flavor of this luscious cake seems to get better and better as it sits. Allow time to let it chill at least overnight, before serving.
- I often make tres leches cake in advance then wait to frost it with whipped cream the day I plan on serving it. Especially when topped with fresh whipped cream, as it's not quite as stable. Cool whip or your favorite brand of whipped topping is more stable and can be used sooner. Go with your personal preference.
- I love serving it with in seasonal berries on the side but, this is completely optional.
- In this recipe you'll note that I like to put my own spin on this cake, adding a little rum and nutmeg to expand the flavor profile. It works like a charm and gives the cake just a little something special. This likely wouldn't be something you would see in the original cake, but well worth adding for the flavor that it gives.
- You can store this cake chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
More Sheet Cake Recipes to Make
You'll note that often sheet cakes are easier to make, bake, store and transport to other locations. It's also a bonus that in the refrigerator you can stack things on top of the lid to maximize space. More Southern style sheet cake recipes you may like to try:
- Island inspired Key Lime Poke Cake.
- Bright citrus filled Lemon Burst Poke Cake.
- Classic fudge topped Texas Sheet Cake.
- Easy Carrot Cake recipe with pineapple and coconut.
- Cherry Coca Cola Cake is a cherry twist on a potluck classic dessert.
- Mandarin Orange Sheet Cake from Noble Pie.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Tres Leches Cake
- 2 ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg divided
- 1 cup butter softened
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar divided
- 6 large eggs separated
- 3 teaspoon pure vanilla extract divided
- 2 ½ teaspoon pure rum extract divided
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 ½ cup heavy cream divided
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 13 x 9 inch metal baking pan or spritz with baking spray.
- Cake: In a medium-size bowl, use a whisk to sift together all purpose four, baking powder, salt and ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, 1 cup sugar,egg yolks, 2 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon rum extracts. Cream for 2-3 minutes.
- To the bowl add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
- In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form then fold into the cake batter by hand. Pour batter evenly into the baking pan.
- Bake for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean.
- Rest for 20 minutes. Poke holes over the top of the cake with a fork or wooden skewer.
- For the filling: Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, ½ cup heavy cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon rum extract and ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg.
- Pour ½ over the cake allowing it to seep into the cake, then pour the remaining on top.
- Cool to room temperature then cover and chill overnight.
- To serve, whip together the remaining 2 cup heavy cream with ¼ cup granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon rum extract. Adjust sweetness taste.
- Frost the top with the whipped cream, dust with nutmeg and serve with seasonal berries.
- Store leftovers chilled.
Melissa, this is a great recipe.
If I may make one suggestion....
Let the cake cook completely and then poke the holes and pour over the three milks all at once. As the cake cools, it will become denser and will be able to absorb more of the milks and hold them better. I took a class on Mexican cooking and the instructor told us about the science behind the cake being fully cool before adding the milks but I can't remember the exact nature.
In any event, another winner of a recipe from you! I so love your feed!
I'm so happy you're finding some recipes to enjoy, thank you!
Thanks Linda! xoxo
Melissa, you take the cake! What a great recipe and post. Thanks:)
I pinned this yesterday! Can't wait to make it. (I'm low carbing for a while, so be patient and I will share with you when I do!)
I have to ask, I'm not a fan of nutmeg. Do you think cardamom would be ok, since you don't use a lot in the first place?
Hi Lin, nutmeg is not an ingredient traditionally found in tres leches, I just enjoy it. So, feel free to leave it out altogether or cardamom would be a nice substitute. Perhaps even a dash or 2 of allspice. But, feel free to leave it out, it will still be delish!