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tres leches cake recipe

Tres Leches Cake Recipe

Traditional Tres Leches Cake Recipe is a giant in Cuban dessert. How can a dessert be rich and creamy, but still be so light and fresh? It’s an absolute dessert miracle. It’s a staple in every Cuban restaurant and home. So you think to yourself, something this good must be hard and complicated to make.

This is especially true for someone who isn’t very experienced in the kitchen, or didn’t have an Abuela or mom to show them how.

But we are here today to tell you, you can do it! This Tres Leches Cake Recipe is going to hold your hand and walk you through step by step. You will see it’s not as hard as it looks. When we are done with you this will be your new dessert go-to. It’s actually a perfect party cake because you can make it ahead of time, and the longer it sits in the delicious liquid- the better it gets.

This is Tres Leches Cake Recipe is actually more of a “cuatro” leches because it uses 4 different types of milk in the soaking liquid. This extra cream, is just a little extra love that helps round out this already amazing cake.

When thinking about how to top your Tres Leches Cake, you can go a few different routes. The first, is making homemade whip cream! Take a deep breath. Making whip cream is just about whipping some cream with a mixer (we have your full instructions below). You can also go with fresh homemade Merengue (that you can find instructions for HERE). Finally if making the Tres Leches is about all you can handle, there have been many Abuelas in our history who have just used the Cool Whip in the fridge and many grandkids who had no problem with it.

Some Tips From Ani to Keep in Mind:

  • Everything has to be room temperature for this kind of cake. In an ideal world, leave out your cream and eggs for two hours, if it’s not possible go for at least 30 minutes. Room Temperature allows for everything to come together more smoothly.
  • The Tres Leches Cake soaks up more liquid than you think, so if it looks like too much liquid before you put it in the fridge, know it will soak up. Don’t be afraid.

Let’s go climb Everest!

Tres Leches Cake Recipe

Recipe by Abuela's CounterCourse: DessertsCuisine: CubanDifficulty: Moderate


Prep time


Cooking time



Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups of cake flour

  • 1 cup of sugar

  • ½ cup of milk

  • 6 large eggs, separated

  • 2 tablespoons vanilla

  • 2 tablespoons of baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon of fine salt

  • Ingredients for Tres Leches Soaking Liquid
  • 1 cup of milk

  • ½ cup of heavy cream

  • 1 can of evaporated milk

  • 1 can of sweet condensed milk

  • ¼ teaspoon of salt

  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla

  • For Whip Cream Decoration
  • 2 cups of heavy cream

  • ¼ cup of sugar

  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla

  • Pinch of salt

  • Fresh fruit

Directions for cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 11-inch rectangular pan.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk attachment or a handheld mixer. Beat for a few minutes (this will take a few minutes be patient) until foamy and delicate peaks start to form. Slowly add ¼ cup of sugar and continue to beat on high for another 2-4 minutes. Beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks (meaning you remove mixer from the egg white it forms a peak that sticks to the mixer) and are glossy. Set aside
  • In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, 1 cup of sugar. Beat for about 5 minutes on high with a handheld mixer until the mixture becomes thick and is a pale yellow color.
  • Sift flour mixture over the egg yolk mixture and gently mix it together. Add milk slowly. Pour and mix into the mixture until all incorporated.
  • Once everything is completely incorporated add the egg white mixture in thirds. It is important to do this in thirds, because if you do it all at once the cake will not be as light and fluffy. You want to fold, or mix, in very gently. The idea is so the egg whites don’t deflate and stay airy.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is golden brown. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool on a rack until cool to the touch.

  • Directions for Soaking Liquid
  • While the cake bakes and cool, make the soaking liquid by adding the ingredients to a bowl and whisking so they are completely incorporated.
  • Once the cake has cooled, poke it all over with a fork. The more you poke, the more liquid will be able to penetrate the sponge cake.
  • Pour over almost all the liquid reserving a cup. Place in the fridge and allow to continue soaking.
  • When you are ready to serve it is time to make the Whip Cream. Whip heavy cream with a handheld mixer for 2 minutes. As it starts to froth add the pinch of salt and sugar slowly. Add the vanilla. Whip for another 3-5 minutes until it becomes a thick whipped cream.
  • Top the cake with whipped cream and fresh cherries or your favorite fruit. When you serve, spoon over the extra soaking liquid onto each serving.