Tres Leches Cake Recipe | PBS Food

This Tres Leches Cake is our own interpretation of a Latin favorite. The cake is very sweet, very moist, and very delicate. It is traditionally baked in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan, but because we love flirting with food and tradition, we baked it in a round springform pan. We frosted our Tres Leches Cake with a Thai “Iced Tea” Whipped Cream as seen on Food Flirts.


Yield: 10-12 slices



  • For the Cake:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 1 cup milk
  • For the Soaking Liquid:
  • 1 14-ounce can condensed milk
  • 1 5-ounce can evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces of water intensely brewed with three Ceylon tea bags
  • For the Thai Whipped Cream Frosting:
  • 2 ½ cups chilled Thai “Iced Tea” Whipped Cream (see separate recipe)


  1. Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat the bottom and sides of a metal 9 1/4-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and coat with vegetable oil spray. Dust the pan with flour and tap the pan to remove the excess flour.
  2. To make the cake: Add the flour, salt, and baking powder to a large bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside.
  3. Add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk until peaks form. The peaks should be firm, but still a little soft. If you don’t have a second bowl for your stand mixer, transfer the whipped egg whites to another bowl, and set aside. The egg whites won’t deflate while you put the cake together.
  4. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream to combine. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and continue beating until they are incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk in three additions, beating well after each addition. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter in three additions, until no trace of the egg whites can be seen in the batter.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Check to see that the top isn’t browning too quickly. If it is, make a tent from foil and cover the top of the cake. Continue to bake for another 30 minutes or until a metal tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The top of the cake will be golden brown.
  6. While the cake is baking, make the soaking liquid: Combine the ¼ cup heavy cream, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and brewed tea in a 4-cup glass measuring cup, whisk to combine, and set aside.
  7. When the cake is ready, remove from the oven and transfer the cake, while still in the pan, to a heat-proof glass or porcelain edged platter wider than the pan. Immediately poke holes in the surface of the cake about ¼-inch apart with a metal cake tester or a wooden skewer. Be sure to poke the holes down through the entire cake. Pour half of the milk and cream mixture over the top of the hot cake and wait 5 minutes before pouring the second half over the surface of the cake. Allow the cake to sit for an additional 5 minutes and transfer cake and platter to refrigerator. Refrigerate overnight. There may be a small amount of the milk mixture pooled around the edges of the pan on the surface of the platter.
  8. Place cake and platter on a flat surface and run a butter knife gently around the edges if necessary to loosen the cake from the pan. Remove the sides of the springform pan. Using a wide cake lifter, remove the Tres Leches Cake from the parchment on the bottom of the spring form pan. Transfer the cake to a 12-inch diameter cardboard round or a 12-inch serving plate or platter.
  9. Frost top of the Tres Leches Cake with the Thai Whipped Cream, using an off-set spatula. Fill a piping bag with Thai Tea Whipped Cream and pipe rosettes along the edge of the top of the cake. Place the frosted cake in the refrigerator and allow frosting to chill and firm. Store leftover Tres Leches Cake in the refrigerator.


Because there is an opening where the sides of the springform pan come together, a little bit of the milk and cream mixture might flow onto the platter. That’s why the platter should be edged and a little larger in diameter than the springform pan.
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