In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I decided to share my authentic tres leches cake recipe! This Mexican dessert is a fluffy vanilla cake filled with condensed milk and topped with a homemade vanilla whipped cream frosting. Served with sliced fruit, this tres leches will impress everyone!
As someone who was born and raised in Mexico, I've found that there aren't many differences in how people from other Latin-American countries were raised; our roots, customs, and traditions are very alike. It’s actually funny when you meet someone from another country and find out that you watched the same TV shows or ate the same snacks as kids.
At the end of the day, it’s the simple things that connect us the most, like enjoying a cup of coffee with our friends and family! When you invite someone over for a cup of coffee in Latin America, you know that hours of good conversation will follow. I remember that my mom would always offer visitors something cold to drink or a hot cup of coffee, depending on the weather.
And when I say “coffee”, I don’t mean the kind that you grind and brew in a coffee machine. No, we were brought up drinking Nescafe. Yes, Nescafe, the granulated coffee that only needs hot water and “La Lechera” to make a good cup of “Café con Leche” almost instantaneously.
Even today, you can go to any Latin store and see people buying the exact same things that you’ve lived with for as long as you can remember, products like:
- Chocolate Abuelita
- Nescafe (instant coffee mix)
- La Lechera (condensed milk).
All these products are now readily available almost everywhere, starting from your local Walmart store!
The History Behind Hispanic Heritage Month
Something else that unites all of us Latinos is Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15th to October 15th.
During this month, America celebrates the cultural and historical contributions of the people who came to this country from Mexico, Central and South America, and Spain. September 15 is a day of celebration in many Latin-American countries since they declared their independence between the 15th and 18th of September. Some of these countries include Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.
How I Like To Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month With Tres Leches Cake
To celebrate the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, I wanted to make a cake with all of you, one that’s associated with birthday parties, graduations, baptisms, and all kinds of celebrations (I guess we always have a good excuse to celebrate!).
Today, we are making tres leches cake!
Many people love this Mexican cake as some trace its origin to Nicaragua, others to Mexico, but I guess what matters is how good it tastes and how easy it is to make it! Since many Latin Countries have a very similar Tres Leches Cake recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mexican Tres Leches
Before I share my tres leches recipe, here are a few questions I've been asked about homemade tres leches cake.
What is 'La Lechera'?
La Lechera is the name of the condensed milk made by Nestle. “Lechera” means “milk lady”, and if you look at the picture on the can, you can see that there’s a lady holding a pot of milk on her head.
Does tres leches cake have alcohol in it?
That's completely up to you! Sometimes I'll add a splash or two of alcohol and sometimes I'll keep it very simple.
If you do decide to add alcohol I recommend adding some rum or brandy.
Can you leave tres leches cake out overnight?
I would not recommend doing this. Since the cake has dairy in it, it's not safe to leave it out and eat it later. However, you need to place it in the fridge overnight to allow it to absorb all the milk. Besides, the tres leches cake tastes better when is cold.
How long can I store this Mexican cake?
This tres leches recipe is best to eat within 2 days but you can leave it up to 4 days in the fridge if wrapped tight and stored properly. And, you can even freeze the cake after you added the kinds of milk, to defrost place it in your fridge until it defrosts them decorate it with the whipped cream & fresh fruits. Remember that its texture is a little soggy.
Tres Leches Cake Recipe
Here is the list of ingredients you will need...
For The Cake:
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Unsalted butter
For The Milk Mixture:
- Condensed milk (I prefer to use La Lechera from Nestle)
- Evaporated milk (I prefer to use Carnation)
- Heavy whipping cream (I prefer to use Media Crema from Nestle)
- Rum or Brandy (optional)
For The Frosting:
- Heavy whipping cream
For The Garnish:
- Canned fruit (I prefer to use peaches and mangos or fresh fruit like strawberries and kiwi)
Please note: For exact measurements of the ingredients listed above, scroll down to the recipe card located at the bottom of this post!
How To Make Tres Leches Cake: Step By Step Tutorial
To make things easier for you, I am going to breakdown the directions to this recipe into sections.
Mix All Of The Dry Ingredients
First things first- preheat the oven to 325 degrees while you make the cake batter. Make sure to adjust the oven rack to the middle position. While you are at it, prep the 13-by-9 inch pan with grease and flour. For a taller cake, use an 8 X 8-inch pan. Set it aside. If you check the pictures this cake is not too tall.
- Place flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-size bowl and whisk together to mix.
Mix Together The Wet Ingredients
- With an electric mixer, beat the eggs one by one on a medium speed, for about 45-60 seconds.
- Slowly add in the sugar until all of the sugar is incorporated.
- Reduce the speed of the mixer, and slowly add the melted butter, a little bit little, and then the vanilla. Keep the mixer running on low.
Incorporate The Dry And Wet Ingredients
- Add the flour in batches and gently fold with a spatula until well combined.
- Transfer batter to your prepared pan using a rubber spatula to help you spread them evenly.
Bake The Cake
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake looks lightly golden.
- Remove the cake and transfer to a wired rack to cool completely.
- Poke the top of the cake using a toothpick, skewer, or fork all over.
Make The Milk Mixture
- Whisk condensed milk, evaporated milk, and cream together with the vanilla and rum in a saucepan.
- Warm the mixture over low heat until completed mixed.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- Once the cake has cooled, pour the milk mixture over the cake.
- Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Make The Frosting
- Place heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla into a bowl and mix on medium speed until soft peaks form. This will take about 2 minutes.
Assemble The Cake
- To assemble the cake, spread the whipped cream over the cake.
- Decorate with fruit as desired!
- Refrigerate to chill until ready to serve. Remember, it is better to leave in the fridge overnight to soak all the three kinds of milk, and decorate with fruit, until ready to serve.
What To Serve With Pastel De Tres Leches
I recommend enjoying your cake with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate!
More Dessert Recipes To Enjoy
If you enjoyed this recipe for tres leches, take a look at some of these other authentic Mexican recipes:
I hope you make this recipe for one of Mexican favorite birthday cakes! If this recipe was of any help to you, come back to let me know your experience. Please leave us a comment done below and tell us all about it!
Tres Leches Cake
- Butter to grease the pan
- 1 ¼ cup All Purpose Flour sifted (plus extra for dusting pan)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt*
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted and cooled (1 stick)
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 whole eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
FOR THE MILK MIXTURE
- 1 can condensed milk NESTLE LA LECHERA 14oz
- 1 can Evaporated milk CARNATION 12oz
- 1 cup of Heavy Heavy whipping or 1 can of “Media Crema Nestle”
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 4 Tablespoons rum or brandy optional
- 1 ¼ cup heavy whipping cream the one you buy at the dairy fridge section
- 4 Tablespoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Canned fruit like peaches mangos or fresh fruit like strawberries and kiwis. If using fruit to decorate, add just before serving.
- Turn oven to 325 degrees F. Make sure to adjust oven rack to middle position. Grease and flour a 13-by-9 inch pan and set aside. For a taller cake, use an 8 X 8-inch pan. Set it aside. If you check the pictures this cake is not too tall.
- Place flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-size bowl and whisk together to mix.
- With an electric mixer, beat the eggs one by one on a medium speed, for about 45-60 seconds, and slowly add the sugar as in a light dusting, until all sugar is incorporated. The egg mix will be very fluffy and be turning a light yellow.
- Reduce speed of mixer, and slowly add the melted butter, little bit little, and then the vanilla. Keep the mixer running in low. (The butter HAS to be melted and cool if not, it will flatten your bubbles, meaning flat cake)
- Add the flour in batches (spoon by spoon) and gently fold with a spatula until well combined. DO NOT OVER MIX.
- Transfer batter to your prepared pan using a rubber spatula to help you spread the evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake looks light golden or a wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the cake.
- Remove the cake and transfer to a wired rack to cool completely. Poke the top of the cake using a toothpick, skewer or fork all over.
- Whisk condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream together with the vanilla and rum in a sauce pan, warm over low heat until completed mixed. Remove from heat and set aside. (Not everyone warms the milk, some people just mix them and pour over the cake, that is a personal choice)
- Once the cake has cool pour the milk mixture over the cake, cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerated for 4 hours or overnight.
- Place heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla into a bowl and mix on medium speed until soft peaks form. This will take about 2 minutes. I usually place the mixer attachment in the freezer and the bowl in the fridge before making whipping cream. This trick always works to form a smooth and fluffy frosting.
- To assembly, the cake spread the whipped cream over the cake. Refrigerate to chill until ready to serve. Remember, it is better to leave in the fridge overnight to soak all the three kinds of milk, and decorate with fruit, until ready to serve. (If you are making this cake ahead of time, add the fruit just right before serving time). To make them look shiny you can glaze them with a mix of apricot preserves and water and use a kitchen brush to cover the fruit.