Darcie Bakes //

Baking from scratch… because good things take time.

Tres Leches Cake.


Tres leches cake. I had no idea what it was for the longest time. Up until one day about a year ago, I asked my first internship friend, Jimmy, what he’d like for me to bake for him if he ever visited me in St. Louis. [I never did bake for him back when we lived in Philly in 2011 for three months because I was [more of] a punk back then.]

When I asked him what baked good he’d like, without missing a beat, Jimmy said that he wanted me to make him a “tres leches cake.” I thought to myself, “What in the heck is tres leches cake?” I looked it up, and the first recipe I came across was from none other than the infamous Pioneer Woman.

treslechescloseupSo what is tres leches cake, you ask? Good question. Tres leches cake is a spongelike cake that is popular in central and southern America. Tres leches means “three milks” in Spanish. So it’s basically a sponge cake with three milks soaked in it. The three milks in this case are heavy cream, sweetened, condensed milk, and evaporated milk. It’s much like a Jell-O poke cake in that you poke holes in the cooled cake, and allow it to soak up all the three milks. Then, you top it with homemade whipped cream, plus maraschino cherries for good measure. {Maraschino cherries are a total “guilty pleasure” of mine, btw.} The result is a super sweet, super rich and moist cake with a tasty topping.


Finally, several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to make this tasty cake for Jimmy and his lady friend when they came to visit me in the Lou. They’re pretty big foodies, so I wasn’t sure how they’d feel about the cake. But the good news is that they ended up loving it, and I did too! It’s a really rich cake, so you’ll only want to eat it in small pieces. It pairs really well with black coffee to cut some of the sweetness. [Yes, I did eat a slice for breakfast. No regrets.] It’s a fun and unique cake, and I’m glad to have it under my baking belt of accomplishments now. Thanks, Jimmy! Internship buddies from four years ago are good for somethin’. 😉

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Tres Leches Cake.

Yield: One 9×13″ pan, which is about twelve servings.

For the cake:
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– 5 large eggs
– 1 cup granulated sugar, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup
– 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
– 1/3 cup milk [I used 2%, but whole milk would be fine too.]
– 1 can evaporated milk
– 1 can sweetened, condensed milk
– 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

For the frosting:
– 1 pint heavy whipping cream
– 3 TBSP. granulated sugar
– 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
– Maraschino cherries, for topping [optional, except not really!]

1. Preheat your oven 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13″ pan liberally with cooking spray until it’s coated. Set aside.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, baking powder, and salt. Separate the egg yolks from the whites.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of sugar on high speed, until the yolks are pale yellow. Stir in the 2% (or whole) milk and vanilla extract.
4. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture, and stir gently until just combined.
5. Clean out your mixer bowl, and beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, and beat until the egg whites have reached stiff peaks, but aren’t dry.
6. Very gently, fold the the egg white mixture into the rest of the batter, until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and spread with a spatula to ensure an even surface.
7. Bake the cake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean [it took my oven just over 30 minutes for it to bake]. It will be golden brown on the outside. Turn the cake out onto a platter, and allow to cool.
8. In the meantime, whisk together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. Once the cake has cooled, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about one cup of the milk mixture, being sure to get as much around the edges of the cake as you possibly can.
9. Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for about thirty minutes.
10. For the frosting, whip one pint of heavy cream with three tablespoons of sugar and vanilla extract [if you want some extra flavor] until it’s thick and spreadable.
11. Spread the frosting over the surface of the cake using a spatula. Decorate the cake with maraschino cherries. Cut into squares and serve. Store in the refrigerator for several days when not serving. Enjoy!

+ Recipe from The Pioneer Woman.

{This cake pairs well with jadeite plates and black coffee.}

One response to “Tres Leches Cake.”

  1. […] good friends, Jimmy. You see, tres leches cake is Jimmy’s favorite cake of all time, and I actually made him a tres leches cake using a different recipe a while back. While that recipe certainly wasn’t bad by any means, I had been itching to try a new recipe […]

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