Tres Leches Cake

May 13th, 2010 by katie

Do you like chaos in the kitchen?  If you do and you’re on Facebook, why don’t you stop by and “Like” chaos in the kitchen’s fan page?  It makes me feel special and who knows, you might have an opportunity to win something every now and then.  Of course it also gives you a sneak peek at what I’m working on long before it appears on the homepage, here.

If you are already a fan of chaos in the kitchen-thank you by the way, much love-then you already know that Tres Leches cake is my undoing.  I am the proud baker of numerous sponge cakes that all together would measure about three inches high.  Unfortunately, traditional tres leches is a delicious, light sponge cake soaked in a sweet mixture of “three milks.”  So, no sponge cake = no tres leches.  Luckily, I have friends in high places now.  After hearing my latest spongecake sob story, my friend Rebecca sent me yet another recipe-one she assured me she had tested herself and was just great.

Of course Rebecca’s ability to make a sponge cake does not translate equally to me making a sponge cake, but I summoned up the last shreds of my confidence and tried it.  And what do you know?  It worked! And it was delicious!  And it was everything I wanted it to be.  Finally!  Thanks so much Rebecca, truly.

Tres Leches Cake

makes 1 9×13 cake, prep 20 min , cook time 30 min, adapted from King Arthur and Foodie with Family
  • 6.25 oz (1 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 10.5 oz (1 1/2 cups) sugar
  • 6 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond flavoring
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 small can (5 oz) evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp brandy or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp brandy or cognac
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour a 9×13 pan.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Set aside.
  4. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with a hand mixer until they’re pale yellow and fluffy.  This takes longer than you think.
  5. Add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is very thick.  Beat and beat and beat and beat and beat some more.
  6. Add the cold water, vanilla and almond to the yolk mixture, then stir in the dry ingredients. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites with a spatula until combined.
  7. Spoon the batter into the pan and level it with a spatula. Bake for 28-30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes.
  9. Using a fork, poke holes all over the cake and let cool an additional 30 minutes.
  10. While the cake is cooling, combine heavy cream, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and brandy in a small bowl or measuring cup with a spout.
  11. When the cake has reached room temp, pour the milk mixture over it slowly, pausing occasionally to allow it to soak in.
  12. Refrigerate for several hours before frosting, allowing the cake to absorb the milk.
  13. When ready to serve, add heavy cream, sugar, and brandy to a mixing bowl.  Whip the cream until soft peaks form.
  14. Spread whipped cream over the top of cake and top with fresh sliced fruit.

This cake works great for casual outdoor parties.  I served mine straight from the pan, which helps hold in the milks mixture, but you can turn it out onto a platter for serving if you want a fancier presentation. The sponge cake holds the milks mixture really well but you may still want to use a rimmed platter, just in case.

On the other hand, if you are as spongecake defective as I am, you can also make any white or yellow cake (yes, even a boxed one) in a 9×13 pan then continue with the recipe above starting at step eight.  The white cake will get a lot moister so I would definitely serve from the pan.

P.S. Did you know chaos in the kitchen is two years old this week?  How should we celebrate? Should I post my favorite recipes or yours?

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Posted in Desserts

9 Responses

  1. Rebecca

    Yeah! You defeated The Curse of the Tres Leches! Go on with your bad self. (Wow. Did I just date myself?) It looks awesome, Katie…

  2. alexandra

    Oh my, this looks heavenly. I have been looking for a good Tres Leches cake recipe. Have never had success. I have friends in town this weekend. I might have to treat them with this. thanks!

  3. Mrs. L

    I have a case of evaporated milk that my husband and I said we need to do something with other than using it for coffee. Considering I’m such a fan of tres-leches cakes, I think this is where that milk is going!

  4. sweetbird

    Congrats! I know you’ve been working on this for a while.

    Now if only I could fit a serving of this into my 1300 calories per day…

  5. DailyChef

    Looks amazing! I bet it melts in your mouth.

  6. Randi

    Katie, I love so many of the recipes you post. I made this for a graduation party the other night and it turned out extremely well. Having never made a sponge cake before, I was a little skeptical about my abilities. It didn’t seem to matter. It rose well, had just the right texture, and was soooooo moist thanks to the three-milk gooeyness. Thanks again!

  7. Honey

    This looks so amazing… the 3 milk cake. OMG, i wish i could taste this. i could imagine what the sweetened condensed milk does to this cake. looks so fresh and pretty. love it!

  8. Jessica

    Hi. I am a student I was wondering if the brandy in this recipe is optional? Will it still taste good without it?

  9. Happy Cinco de Mayo! - Silver Link

    […] dessert try a tres leches cake! [Image and recipe can be found here: Tres leches cake This recipe is elegant, easy and a definite crowd […]

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About chaos

cha·os -noun 1. a condition or place of great disorder or confusion. My chaotic kitchen is the result of three kids, two adults, dog, cat, and fish, a food obsession, a wine drinking hobby, and too few hours in the day. Between trying to feed a family of five healthy, happy meals, watching my weight, saving my pennies, and staying partially sane I have picked up a few tricks along the way. So here they are: the very best tips, tricks, and recipes from my chaotic kitchen-to yours!

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