Tres leches Cake: A Cinco De Mayo Treat!

by Shumaila

I am back with Office Thursdays. Office Thursdays was something I started to solve the problem of me baking and then having no one to eat it since V is not fond of sweets. As a result, I would end up eating most of what I baked, and you all know what havoc that does to your body. Of course, I could have just not baked at all- but I love baking and I do crave for the occasional freshly baked good- not what you get in stores but what you get fresh from the oven in your house! So some solution had to be found- one that would allow me to bake but not end up with all the calories that go into it. Thus, the idea of Office Thursdays (at that time I could come up with no better name and so it stuck) came up. Every Thursdays, V has a meeting that he conducts, and several of his co-workers attend it. So, V and I decided that I would bake for these meetings and save for two-four pieces (for the two of us), rest would be served at these meetings.

For today’s office Thursday, since it is cinco de mayo (a Mexican holiday celebrated every 5th of May to commemorate Mexican victory over the French forces in Battle of Puebla, 1862) and a lot of people at V’s office are mexican, I thought of making a traditional Mexican dessert- Tres Leches Cake. Of course, it might have been a very wrong decision- they would know how it actually tastes, so I had to turn to the best-Alton Brown. His measurements were in weights and since I do not own a weighing scale (and I call myself a passionate baker!) , I found a recipe I could work with at Brenda’s blog. Brenda has a beautiful blog and an amazing collection of recipes. Do check her out.

Tres Leches Cake: Tres in spanish means three and leche means milk. So the cake roughly translated is three milk cake. The cake is a sponge like cake that is drenched in a glaze of three different kinds of milk- condensed milk, evaporated milk and half & half. Topped with a whipped cream frosting, you can make several variations to the cake by either adding chocolate, or layering some strawberry whipped cream in between or like Brenda, adding cinnamon to the batter. No matter what you do, you will still be licking your fingers away!

This cake also goes out to one of my blogger friends, Abhi and to the girl who introduced me to his blog (one of my best friends, Elgo), both of whom had their birthday in April! I had promised Abhi a cake, so here it is! I would have made a more extravagant cake- firstly, if I knew how to and secondly, had these guys been here to eat it. Now, Abhi, for whatever reason, does not blog regularly but I have seen the pics of his culinary adventures on Facebook and they all look so mouth watering good. I wish he would blog more often so that I get to learn more from him and not just sit and admire his pictures on FB.

Now, typical to all my new baking adventures I erred here too. I had kept the eggs out in the morning so that they would be at room temperature by the time I was ready to bake the cake in the afternoon. But, when I added them, the eggs were cold, solidifying the butter a bit. Arghh!! What do I do now! I took the bowl and hugged it, hoping my body heat would help the eggs and the butter to come back to room temperature. And well it did work! A hug can melt anyone and this just proved it!

The cake is seriously addictive. While photographing I kept on eating piece after piece. Granted I was hungry after the exercise but one piece would have worked, but I just could not resist! I happily packed these for V’s office-  finally there is some one to take these baked goods off my hand!

Tres Leches Cake

Adapted from here, original recipe is Alton Brown’s

The cake is best prepared a day in advance, as it takes time for the cake to soak all the glaze. It is a messy cake, but it’s so tasty that you would have been licking your fingers either ways, at least now you have an excuse!


For the cake:

  • 1-3/4 cup cake flour, plus extra for preparing the pan
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 1-1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

For the glaze:

  • 1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half

For the topping:

  • 2 cups heavy cream ( I used only 1 1/2 cups, because that’s all I had)
  • 1/4 cups powdered sugar ( I reduced the sugar by 1 tbsp because of the reduced cream)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Caramel drizzle on top


For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour a 13″x9″ pan and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute.
  4. Decrease the speed to low, and with the mixer still running, very slowly add the sugar. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine.
  6. Add the vanilla and mix again.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three batches and mix until just combined.
  8. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. It will seem like a small amount of batter for a cake. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cake is lightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Poke the top of the cake all over with a fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

For the glaze: 

  1. Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and the half-and-half in a medium bowl.
  2. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake. It will seem like a lot of glaze but don’t worry it’s supposed to be like that.
  3. Take your time and let it keep soaking in as you pour. The cake will not completely soak up the glaze until it has sat overnight. So, pop it into the fridge and finish it the following day.

For the topping: 

  1. Place the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Using the whisk attachment on medium speed, whisk together until stiff peaks are formed. Increase mixer to high and whisk until thick. (be careful to not over whip as the cream will turn into butter!)
  3. Spread the topping onto the cake, and allow it to chill in the fridge until ready to serve. You can serve the cake with cherries/pineapple on top or with a caramel drizzle, like I did.