Tres Leches Cake

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.

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Tres Leches Cake

5 from 9 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 1/4 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.
Cuisine Cake
Course Dessert
Keyword cinco de mayo, tres leches, tres leches cake

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

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Comments

  1. So you recommend making it as a single layer cake. what you showed in the pic isn’t this cake?

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Courtney,

    can this cake be covered in a thick coat of the whipped cream or maybe Swiss meringue ?

    I just ordered my acrylic boards and the edges i am soo excited..
    thank you,
    jess

  3. Hello. There are strawberries in the filling for a Tres Leches cake? Just double checking!
    It does look wonderful!

  4. Hi Courtney!
    I was wondering if there was any way I could replace the gel/gelatin with corn starch?
    Dying to make this one!

  5. Hi!
    The recipe says single layer but i like how you made it into a layer cake. Is it possible to do that or will it fall apart?

      1. So you take the cake out of the pan, put it on your counter, poke the holes, poor the soak, and when that’s done soaking you pick it off the counter and wrap with plastic wrap? Sorry I’m just trying to understand because my daughter wanted this cake for her birthday.

        1. Yes, let the cakes cool for about 15 minutes in their pans. Turn them onto cool racks to cool completely. Once the cakes are cooled completely poke holes, add soak, and wrap before you freeze.

  6. If someone wanted a themed tees leches cake, is there a way to cover such a cake in fondant? Or would it not work because if the soak?

  7. Hey!
    I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe. I was wondering how long the soak process should take? I’m afraid the cake will crumble if I leave it in the milk mixture for too long?

  8. Hi Courtney!

    I was wondering if you can cover this cake in a buttercream (after layering and filling with the stabilized whipped cream)

    Thanks!

  9. Hey Courtney! We just attempted to make the cake and upon taking it out the center looked a little undone. We proceeded to bake it for 7 more minutes and took it out. We let it cool, went to level the top and the middle was uncooked!😭Any ideas for what we may have done wrong? We weighed the mixture in our pans and checked the oven temperature. Let me know and we will definitely be attempting round 2 soon!

  10. Hi Courtney! Is there a way to stabilize this cake so that the layers don’t slide off when you cut it? I made this and had trouble with the layers sliding. Thank you!!

    1. Should I freeze the 2nd layer for easier handling when I’m stacking it? This is a gender reveal cake with a fruit filling for the reveal.

  11. Can you freeze the assembled and frosted cake then defrost for service later? Or is it too wet? Just trying to find options for a small make ahead elopement cake and this sounds delicious.

  12. 5 stars
    I made this recipe this weekend and it was absolutely incredible. I’ve never made Tres Leches (I’ve been baking for 10+ years and have a cake business 😂) and this was SUCH a hit. Really happy to be able to confidently make this. Thank you so much!

  13. When you’re ready to soak the cake layers do you remove them from the pan and place them on a cooling rack before you pour or do you keep them in the pan? Thanks!

  14. 5 stars
    Am I able to freeze this cake? I was going to take it to work where there isn’t a large enough fridge. If I take it out and let defrost at work and will it stay good?

  15. So for assembly do you take each layer completely out of the cake pan to soak or do they soak in the pans and then remove them prior to stacking and filling?

    1. I soak them in the pan, then chill them for a bit (like 30ish minutes) in the freezer and then remove them to stack and fill.

  16. Can I convert this recipe into a chocolate tres leches cake? If so how much cocoa powder would I need for the cake and the milk mixture?

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

  18. 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!!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.