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Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake

You know what happens this weekend? Shavuot – that time of year when Jews who are hopelessly lactose intolerant pump themselves full of cheesecake and stay up all night – not unlike an 11-year-old’s birthday sleep over. In Judaism it is known as the day that Moses came down the mountain with the 10 commandments. In Christianity it is known as Pentacost – when God sent the Holy Spirit. Both are about revelation, but I to be honest I really don’t know what revelation has to do with eating dairy.

Tres Leches Cake

My family has been on a long journey – one I can barely understand how we withstood. Our lives have changed drastically. It’s not just the baby and the move. Everything about living in North Carolina is different than California – and by different I mean better… mostly. Yeah, it’s cheaper to live here, and we definitely have more space. That was a given. But there are several things we didn’t necessarily know would be the case.

Tres Leches Cake

  1. Time. It’s odd, but I feel like we have so much more time here. If I had to be someplace across town in LA, I could feel my blood pressure rise. I didn’t know how long it would take me to get there or how long it would take me to get back. Here, everything is literally 20 minutes away. Going to the next town over is no big deal. I live 10 minutes from work and drive home for lunch. I get to spend a good amount of time with my son during the day, even though he goes to sleep at 7:30pm.
  2. We’re busy, but in a good way. While I never felt I had enough time in LA, I did always feel bored. You had to pin down plans with people several weeks in advance, and there was a very good chance they would flake on you last minute. Here, whenever I have a free weekend evening, there are several people I can text asking if they’d like to hang out, and the response is usually “Sure! I’ll be right over!” And you know what? They actually do come right over. Just like that. We also have lots of plans too. It seems there are always people coming to stay with us from Charlotte, get-togethers with friends and congregational events.
  3. Respect for the family. We don’t feel like odd-balls having a family, but it’s not abnormal for people to be single either. People just seem to understand the limits on parents with young kids when it comes to leaving work on time, or why it’s much better for people to come to your house than for you to go to theirs.

Tres Leches Cake

Anyway, Tres Leches Cake is my absolute favorite, and one thing that North Carolina does not have is good Mexican food, so you’re on your own. Word of warning regarding this cake: Make sure you use a platter with a lip. You’ll need something to catch all the excess milks.

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Tres Leches Cake

Recipe adapted from The Baker Chick.

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake


    For the cake:
  1. 4 eggs, room temperature, separated
  2. ¾ cup cake flour
  3. ¾ cup sugar
  4. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. For the leches:
  6. 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  7. 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  8. ½ cup whole milk
  9. 1-2 tablespoons rum
  10. For the whipped topping:
  11. 1 cup whipping cream
  12. 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  13. cinnamon
  14. For the berry compote:
  15. (3) ½-pint containers assorted berries
  16. 1 1/2 c. halved hulled strawberries
  17. ½ c. sugar
  18. 1 t. lemon juice


    For the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and ½ cup of the sugar until they are pale, thick and creamy. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  3. Place egg whites in a clean, cold stand mixer bowl. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer running- gradually add the sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold about one-third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture until smooth. Add half of the flour and continue to gently fold, being careful to not deflate the egg whites. Repeat with another third of egg whites, the rest of the flour, and the last third of whites. Do not over-mix.
  5. Pour the batter into an 8" or 9" round, oiled pan.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched or a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. For the leches
  8. In a bowl, stir together the 3 milks and rum. When the cake has cooled for about 15-20 minutes. Slice the top layer of the sponge cake level the cake for maximum milk-soakage.
  9. Place the cake on a large rimmed plate or cake stand. Pour the milk mixture over the cake slowly, letting it soak in before adding more. Make sure to get all around the edges and sides, spooning spilled-over milk back onto the top if necessary.
  10. Chill in the fridge for minimum of one hour.
  11. For the whipped topping:
  12. Whip cream in a chilled bowl and fold in the powdered sugar.
  13. Spoon the cream over the chilled cake and top with cinnamon.
  14. For the berry compote:
  15. Combine all ingredients in a large pan; toss to blend and let stand 15 minutes.
  16. Place pan over medium heat and stir gently until sugar dissolves, a light syrup forms and berries soften slightly.
  17. Serve chilled on the side.


    • mirinadler says

      I should say I’ve found some ok TexMex places here in NC, but none of them have my favorite cake – so glad to know someone here appreciates it as much as I do!

  1. Kids Travel Books says

    Thanks for sharing! I love Tres Leches cake and haven’t seen it in many places. *But, I have found good Tex-Mex in Charlotte!*

  2. Hispanic Mama says

    This version looks so delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

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