Tres Leches Cake

May 2, 2020

Tres Leches Cakevanilla sponge cake with a cinnamon milk soak, whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Tres Leches Cake - vanilla sponge cake with a cinnamon soak, whipped cream and fresh strawberries. #cakebycourtney #treslechescake #layeredtreslechescake #cincodemayocake #cincodemayo

Tres Leches Cake

With Cinco de Mayo just two days away, there’s no better time than the present to make a Tres Leches Cake. I have requests for this cake over and over. I finally got to create my own version!

I’ve always seen Tres Leches Cake in a 13″x9″ pan. I knew that when I did mine, I wanted to turn it into a layered cake. I worried about doing that, though, because a Tres Leches Cake, soaked in a milk mixture, always seemed fragile to me.

Tres Leches Cake - vanilla sponge cake with a cinnamon soak, whipped cream and fresh strawberries. #cakebycourtney #treslechescake #layeredtreslechescake #cincodemayocake #cincodemayo

After doing some research, I could see that most Tres Leches cake is kind of like a meringue. A Tres Leche cake has a lot of whipped egg whites to give it a fluffy, sponge-like consistency. Several recipes I looked at also had equal parts sugar and flour. To make a more stable cake for layering, I would need to add a bit more flour than sugar to my recipe.

I compared my Classic Vanilla Cake recipe to the Tres Leches recipes I had been researching. It wasn’t too far off from the actual ingredients other recipes used! I just needed to adjust my amounts a bit.

I ended up using more flour in my recipe than other Tres Leches recipes. This was so it would for sure be stable enough to be a layered cake once the soak was added.

Tres Leches Cake - vanilla sponge cake with a cinnamon soak, whipped cream and fresh strawberries. #cakebycourtney #treslechescake #layeredtreslechescake #cincodemayocake #cincodemayo

The Soak

The soak for this Tres Leches cake consists of heavy cream, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon. The cinnamon gives it a bit of a horchata flavor and I think you’ll love it!

Tres Leches Cake - vanilla sponge cake with a cinnamon soak, whipped cream and fresh strawberries. #cakebycourtney #treslechescake #layeredtreslechescake #cincodemayocake #cincodemayo

Just make sure to poke holes into your cake once cooled, so when you pour the soak on the cake, it really absorbs into the layers.

The Whipped Cream

The whipped cream filling makes enough for the filling and to add a dollop on top of each slice of cake. To simplify the stabilization process, I used E-Z Gel from Gygi. If you can’t find E-Z Gel, you can also use gelatin to stabilize the whipped cream like I do in my Strawberry Shortcake Cake.

Tres Leches Cake

4.95 from 39 votes
Vanilla sponge cake with a cinnamon milk soak and whipped cream.

Ingredients
  

FOR THE CAKE

  • 7 egg whites room temperature, (save four yolks)
  • 4 egg yolks room temperature
  • 1 tsp (4.2 g) vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups (325 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. (10 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 cup whole milk room temperature

FOR THE SOAK

  • 2 tsp (5.28 g) ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (189 g) evaporated skim milk
  • 3/4 cup (173 g) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (306 g) sweetened condensed milk

FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM

  • 2 cups (462 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup (62.5 g) powdered sugar
  • 3 tsp. E-Z Gel this stabilizing the whipped cream
  • 1 tsp. (4.2 g) vanilla extract
  • Diced fresh strawberries

Instructions
 

FOR THE CAKE (best made ahead of time)

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray again.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour and the baking powder. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  • Gradually beat in the sugar and then the yolks. Beat in the vanilla.
  • Switch to the paddle attachment and alternately add the flour mixture with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  • Evenly pour the batter in the two pans, about 20 ounces in each. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.
  • The cake should rise to the top of the pan and be a little spongy. That's good. We want that texture to soak up the milk soak. Let the cakes cool in the pans.

FOR THE SOAK

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until combined.

FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM

ASSEMBLY

  • The day before you want to serve your cake, trim the top of the cakes to expose the crumb. Poke holes into the cake with a fork (all over), but leave about ¼ inch rim around the edge of the cake without any holes so that the soak doesn't penetrate the outer edge of the cake.
  • Slowly pour the soak into each cake layer, allowing time for the mixture to soak into the cake before adding more. Let the cakes sit and soak the milk mixture in. Wrap the layers with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  • When you're ready to assembly, place one cake layer on a cake plate or cake stand and cover with a cup of whipping cream and fresh strawberries. Reserve the remaining whipping cream to serve with each slice of cake.
  • Dust top of the cake with cinnamon.
  • Serve cold.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Keyword: cinco de mayo, tres leches, tres leches cake
 cake tips and tricks cakebycourtney.com

Join the Conversation

  1. For soaking the cake, if you can’t find jist plain heavy cream, can you substitute it with heavy whipping cream or whole milk?

    1. Yes heavy whipping cream!

  2. Virginia Weekley says:

    Hi!! Making this cake for a special event coming, to make it the 2 layers like you have in the picture — would you stack similar to your other cakes? Or keep the top layer right side up?? Hopefully this makes sense! Really want to make a 2 layer cake, but just wanted any extra tips for making this work with a wetter cake. Thanks!!

  3. Hello! This sounds delicious! I have someone asking for tres leches cake for her wedding. I have only ever made it in a rectangular pan. I am going to do a test run this week, but wanted your thoughts on turning this into a tiered cake. If I were to make 3 of these separate 2 layer cakes, do you think they would fall apart if I were to insert dowels to hold up the next cakes? Also, would it be easy to trim the cake layers down to progressively smaller sizes so that I don’t have to fiddle with the recipe? 🤣 Any thoughts or help would be appreciated!

    1. I’d be worried about stacking this cake to be honest. With as moist as it gets, I’m not sure if its a good idea for lower tiers. I think you could use it for the top tier though.

      1. I am going to make this for a friend’s birthday. With the cake being meringue-based would you recommend making ahead and freezing the cake sponge?

        1. You totally can!

  4. Jazmin Calleros says:

    5 stars
    I am completely new to baking. This was literally the first cake I have ever made. And it was so freaking good! Everyone loved it and nobody believed I’d never made it before. I’m very excited to try more of your recipes.

    1. This brings me so much joy!

  5. 5 stars
    Hello! I’m actually getting ready to make this cake for an upcoming event. I read through the recipe several times and through the comments. And i have a couple questions hoping you can clarify! The recipe calls for soaking the cake and wrapping in plastic overnight. In some of the comments you mentioned soaking the cake in the pan and letting it soak for 30 minutes. Which method seems to have the best results I am planning on stacking it like the picture.

    And do you think this cake can be stacked and decorated and placed in freezer until the day of?

  6. Yophiyyah Fish says:

    5 stars
    Hi!! I have made so many of your cakes and people love them every time! Thank you so much for your hard work!
    I plan to make this for my friend, but can i make it two days before and after i do the soak and wrap it, can i let it sit in the fridge for two days instead of just overnight?
    Thanks!

    1. put it in the freezer wrapped so it doesn’t dry out.

  7. Hi Courtney,
    Could you comment on this please: I saw a YouTube video where the baker didn’t separate the eggs and yolks, rather beat them whole until they were super light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. What’s your opinion on this? Seems easier for a novice baker like me. Thank you!

  8. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! I make this cake often for birthdays and holiday. It is the best and always such a hit! I was wondering, do you think the batter would work to make tres leches cupcakes? Or is this best kept in cake form?

    1. Cake is easier for sure.

  9. 5 stars
    Such a beautiful and elegant version of the tre leches cake. This is really the best version I have ever seen and will be my go-to recipe.The instruction is just wonderful, too.

  10. What size pan should be used to just make this recipe as a simple one layer rectangular cake? Thank you.

    1. A 9×13 dish

  11. Stephanie says:

    The recipe is not showing for the tres leches cake. I need it for a work function tomorrow. I’ve tried several devices and it is the same on all of them.

    1. I had a site update and there was a little glitch. Getting it back up now.

      1. Stephanie says:

        5 stars
        thank you! I figured there was something as it was the only one I was needing at the moment! it’s delicious 🙂

  12. Stephanie says:

    the recipe is missing. I’ve made this cake a couple of times in the past month and have 2 requests for it and the recipe isn’t showing up. please help.

    1. I had a site update and there was a little glitch. Back up now.

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