Tres leches cake is made with sponge cake and three kinds of milk, and it is moist and slightly sweet. This is a simple cake recipe that improves in flavour after chilling in the fridge for a day.
The history of tres leches cake, a rich dessert made with three different kinds of milk and topped with whipped cream, is unclear. Both Mexicans and Central Americans claim credit for its inception, however, there is some debate over its true origin.
What’s Tres Leches Cake?
No matter where it came from, tres leches cake (which means “three kinds of milk” in Spanish) is a Hispanic dessert that people in most, if not all, Spanish-speaking countries have been eating for years.
Tres leches is a cake made of soaked sponge cake and three kinds of milk, with whipped cream on top. On top of their frosted cakes, some people like to sprinkle ground cinnamon, like I do, while others like to add fresh fruit.
What Types of Milk Are Used to Make Tres Leches Cake?
The “leches” or milk used in tres leches are also a point of contention. The following are elements of my version:
- Whole milk
- Condensed milk
- Evaporated milk
Because I like to serve my tres leches with a generous dollop of whipped cream, I find that using whole milk in the milk bath is a more sensible choice. That, I suppose, would classify my cake as a “cuatro leches” cake. But, in the end, who cares? It is impressive regardless of the quantity of milk used.
The Best Way to Prevent Soggy Tres Leches Cake
The best cake for this purpose is a sponge cake, which can withstand having a lot of milk poured over it without becoming mushy.
Tres leches cake should not be watery or fall apart when cut into. The flavour and consistency of tres leches are similar to that of vanilla custard or pudding, both light and creamy. With a fork, you should be able to see a pool of milk form.
Cinnamon, which can be sprinkled on top if desired, adds a subtle spicy note that goes well with the cake’s light and creamy texture.
In what way do you bake a sponge cake?
There are only three simple procedures involved in making a sponge cake:
- First, beat the egg yolks with the warmed sugar until they are a very pale yellow in color and have doubled in volume.
- Egg whites should be whipped in a clean, separate basin until they form glossy, stiff peaks when lifted. More sugar can be added if necessary.
- Combine with flour by gradually adding the sifted cake flour to the beaten egg yolks. Time is of the essence if you want the cake to rise properly, so get to work!
Cakes made using the sponge method are leavened without the use of chemical leaveners like baking soda or baking powder. It also makes a cake with a super-light crumb, perfect for soaking up all that sugary milk.
How to Make the Best Tres Leches Cake Ever
- Put 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in an oven-safe container and warm it in the oven while it preheats. When you whisk the egg yolks, adding the warm sugar helps to give them more volume.
- Whipping egg whites requires a clean basin and beaters, as the presence of even a small amount of fat may prevent them from achieving their full volume.
- To ensure an evenly soaked cake, level the batter in the pan before baking. The cake batter is best distributed with an offset spatula. Just before putting the pan in the oven, give it a couple of good knocks on the counter to get rid of any trapped air bubbles from mixing. If you want your tres leches cake to be moist and delicious all over, you need to make sure it’s perfectly flat.
Prepare in advance Tres Leches Cake
Making tres leches ahead of time (by a few hours or even a day) is highly recommended. Cakes taste better when given more time to soak up the milk mixture. The cake benefits from being frosted with whipped cream many hours in advance so that it can absorb some of the flavour from the frosting. My own stayed fresh for three days; the whipped topping, however, did lose some of its frothiness.
How to Properly Maintain the Quality of Leftovers
The cake will keep for three days in the fridge, but it shouldn’t be frozen because the texture will change when thawed. Since the whipped topping won’t defrost properly, you should eat this cake as soon as possible.
For the sponge cake:
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, melted, to grease the baking dish.
- (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) granulated sugar (178g)
- Use 6 large eggs and separate the whites and yolks.
- Extraction of Vanilla, One Teaspoonful
- A pinch of kosher salt
- Sifted cake flour equaling 1/2 cup (or 173 grams)
For the milk mixture:
- Half a quart of whole milk
- Evaporated milk, one 12-ounce can
- Add 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
- Brandy (optional) 1 tbsp
- Extraction of Vanilla, One Teaspoonful
For the whipped cream topping:
- 3 cups of thick cream
- Expeller of Vanilla Bean, 0.5 Teaspoons
- powdered sugar, one cup’s worth
- Crushed cinnamon
Recipe For Tres Leches Cake:
1. Put the oven temperature at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Preheat the oven. Prepare a 9-by-13-by-3-inch cake pan by brushing it with melted butter.
2. Warm-up one-half cup of sugar:
Half a cup of the granulated sugar should be placed in an oven-safe container and warmed alongside the rest of the oven. When you whisk the egg yolks, adding the warm sugar helps to give them more volume.
3. Beat the egg yolks:
Egg yolks warmed sugar, and vanilla extract is whipped on medium-high speed in a hand or stand mixer until the egg yolks have doubled in volume and are a very pale yellow colour. There is a five-minute window for this. The bowl should be put down for the time being.
4. Whisk the egg whites:
The egg whites and salt should be beaten together in a clean bowl using clean beaters until the whites are frothy.
As soon as the egg whites have reached a frothy consistency, slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of sugar. The whites should be whipped for about 4 1/2 minutes, or until they are firm and glossy. After being beaten, the whites should stand up with a peak that folds over ever-so-slightly when the beaters are removed.
5. To make the batter:
To keep the eggs from losing their volume, sift half of the cake flour into the basin containing the yolks. Fold the flour and yolks together carefully using a large rubber spatula. When the flour is all mixed, gently fold in half of the egg whites so that the whites don’t deflate. Proceed to do it once more with the leftover flour and egg whites.
6. Put the food into the pan:
When ready, pour the cake batter into the greased and floured pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Tap the bottom of the pan against the counter a few times to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter.
7. Preparing a cake:
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the top is golden and springs back immediately when pushed with a fingertip. Whether you choose to let the cake cool in the pan or invert it onto a deep, rimmed serving dish, be sure to give it plenty of time to set.
8. Blend the milk together:
Put the three kinds of milk, the brandy (if using it), and the vanilla essence into a large pitcher or basin and mix well. To blend, whisk in equal parts.
9. Cake soaking:
After the cake has cooled, make holes in it all over using a toothpick or fork. Cover the cake with the milk and vanilla mixture. It may look like a lot, but rest assured that the cake will absorb almost all of the milk.
Wrap the cake in plastic and chill it for at least three hours and up to twenty-four.
10. Cream it up:
Lighten the texture of the heavy cream by whipping it at medium-high speed with an electric hand mixer in a large mixing basin. When ribbons form when beating the cream, turn off the mixer and add the vanilla essence and powdered sugar.
Turn the mixer up to high and whisk the cream for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until it becomes thick and retains its shape when the beaters are removed.
11. To finish the cake:
Apply the whipped cream to the cake in a uniform layer using an offset spatula. Ground cinnamon should be sprinkled on top in generous amounts.
12. To serve the cake:
You can chill the cake for up to three hours before serving. Make 12 equal squares. Refrigerate and consume within 3 days of preparation.