Tres Leches Cake


On May 5th, Mexico celebrates the (then very poorly equipped!) Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862 – not Mexico’s independence. This victory was, nonetheless, of extreme significance as it gave the Mexican army (and the country, in general) a much needed morale boost which helped establish a sense of national unity and patriotism. Over the years, however, Cinco de Mayo has morphed into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage in Canada and the US. And even though Cinco de Mayo is not as widely celebrated in Mexico as it is in other parts of the world, any day is a good day to celebrate our Mexico lindo y querido, don’t you think? And today I want you to celebrate with some Tres Leches cake!

I also wanted to share this recipe with you on this very day because it was one of the first items ever on Metate Bake Shop’s menu for…a Cinco de Mayo celebration!

Yup, that’s me looking young and well-rested at Metate Bake Shop’s first event ever as a business. It was a Cinco de Mayo celebration on Granville Island and I wanted to keep it simple and festive so I made cake: Mango Tres Leches & Cajeta Chocoflan. Oh, and conchas of course! That’s Metate‘s very first batch of conchas right there. Those conchas have come a long way, haven’t they? Haha.

This Tres Leches cake is not your typical Tres Leches cake. Over the years, I’ve adjusted the recipe for maximum Tres Leches syrup absorption since the syrup (in my opinion) is what makes this cake so deliciously unique. As a result, you’ll end up with a light yet incredibly moist cake. The secret? No butter or oil in the actual cake batter. Yes, you read that right! This way, you reduce the fat barrier that would not allow for the Tres Leches syrup to get fully absorbed and you also reduce some of the unnecessary richness in the cake itself. After all, you are already soaking this cake in a rich, milky syrup – you don’t need the added richness from the butter or oil.

Here’s what you’ll need to make a dreamy Tres Leches cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs , yolks and whites separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar , divided into 2
  • ⅓ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (354ml) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (300ml) can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 cups whipping cream (33% M.F.)
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9×13” pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
  2. Combine dry ingredients: In a bowl, combine first 3 ingredients.
  3. Blanch egg yolks: Whisk ½ cup of sugar with the egg yolks until yolks are pale yellow in colour. Slowly incorporate the ⅓ cup milk and 1 tsp vanilla extract to egg yolk mixture while whisking. Set aside.
  4. Make meringue: Using a mixer (stand up or handheld), whisk egg whites until fluffy. Add the remaining ½ cup of sugar gradually while whisking. Add the sugar slowly so that your meringue doesn’t collapse. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  5. Bring it all together: Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the meringue until well combined and smooth. You should end up with a light, fluffy and very pale yellow batter. Start this process with a whisk to break up any large chunks of meringue and finish by folding with a rubber spatula so that the batter doesn’t deflate.
  6. Add dry ingredients: Sift dry ingredients onto meringue/egg mixture and gently fold with a rubber spatula to incorporate. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts.
  7. Bake: Pour batter into baking pan. Make sure to smooth it into an even layer so that your cake bakes evenly. Give it a gentle tap on the counter before putting it in the oven to get rid of an air bubbles sitting at the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until toothpick or tester comes out clean.
  8. Make Tres Leches syrup: While your cake is cooling down, combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk in a bowl. Once the cake is cool to the touch, poke holes all over the top of the cake with a fork. Evenly pour the Tres Leches syrup all over the cake. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  9. Decorate: This is the fun part! Whip the whipping cream, icing sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract together until light and fluffy – about 8 minutes if you’re using the mixer. Use the whipped cream and whatever (edible!) treasures you have at home to decorate your Tres Leches cake.

There’s no rules when it comes to decorating cakes. Here’s a few pics of some of the Tres Leches cakes I’ve made over the past couple of years. Personally, I like to top Tres Leches cakes with fruit. Fruit gives it colour, freshness and a ton of flavour. But, please, feel free to let your imagination run wild and have fun with it!

You can also adjust the size of your cake if you prefer smaller or individual portions. I’ve made cupcake-sized Tres Leches cakes with this recipe in the past and they are adorable. When you bake smaller cakes, though, remember to check how they are doing in the oven halfway through the recommended baking time. The smaller your cakes are, the faster they will bake.

You can also make medium-sized ones to share with your significant other. Sort of like this one here:

If you make this Tres Leches cake, I want to see your cake decorating skills in action! Post a pic and tag me as @metatebakeshop on Instagram or Metate Bake Shop on Facebook.

3 thoughts on “Tres Leches Cake

  1. Yayyy! I’m totally going to try your version since I know that I have enjoyed it in the shop!! I noticed that you used measurements for this recipe instead of weights for the there a reason why? And will you ever make this for sale again so I don’t finish off a huge cake by myself? 😜😋😃

    1. What’s wrong with finishing off a huge cake by yourself?! Hehehe

      I just figured this would be a popular recipe and that people usually have measuring cups at home rather than a kitchen scale. So I wanted to give everyone easy access to trying it out 😉

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