Tres leches is Spanish for “three milks,” and the three milks in question are condensed milk, evaporated milk, and full cream milk. In essence, every tres leches cake recipe is a very light, spongey cake soaked in the three milks.
Tres leches cake is conventionally a single sheet cake, but as you can see here I’ve opted for an open layer cake. It’s doable, but there are some challenges I point out in the directions below.
50g unsalted butter, softened
90g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
90g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup condensed milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
Makes 2 6″ round cake layers.
For the icing:
100g unsalted butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
About 1/4 cup milky soaking liquid
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F). Grease and line tw0 6-inch round cake tins.
Step 2: Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. As there seems to be a lot of egg for so little fat/sugar (creates a fluffier cake), sift in half the flour and mix that in. Then beat in the eggs one at a time, as well as the vanilla extract and salt. (Your mixture will be less likely to split with the early addition of flour.) Finally, add the remaining flour and the baking powder and mix everything together.
Step 3: Divide the batter equally between the two tins and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes. In the meantime, mix the three milks together in a bowl or better, a jug (easier to pour from). With a toothpick, stab the cakes liberally. Then, while still warm in their tins, pour over the milk mixture. Leave the cakes for at least 3 hours, overnight in the refrigerator at best, to really drink up the milk.
Step 4: Even if you’ve left the cakes for as long as possible, there will still be a little liquid left at the bottom. Grab a plate and put it upside-down over the tin, and flip it all over. You’ll hear the most fantastic squelching sound as the cake falls onto the plate. Drain away the excess milk as best as you can into a bowl. Don’t throw it away! It’ll help fantastic flavours of milk and cake. Then gently put the cake on your board or serving plate. (Be careful not to squeeze out too much milk!) With a tissue paper or paper towel, gently pat try all exposed surfaces to help the icing stick.
Step 5: To make the icing, just whip the butter for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy, then add in the icing sugar and vanilla extract. Finally, dribble in the milk soaking liquid until you reach your desired spreading consistency.
Step 6: Now this is the fun part: assembling the cake. Spread 1/2 the icing on one layer of the cake. Be as gentle as possible, but you’ll still get some leakage.
Just grab some tissues and wipe away whatever seeps out onto the board. Place the next cake over top. (Watch out for more leakage!) And spread a layer of icing over top. If you have leftover icing (and can be bothered to), you can pipe small rosettes around the top. I finished the cake off with cherries and sprinkles in the colours of the Mexican flag. (Actually for Christmas, but still the same colours nonetheless.)
This cake will be wonderfully, luxuriously moist from soaking up all that milk. A dream cake for dairy queens, or a nightmare for the lactose-intolerant? You decide. (Based on your digestive response.)