The best tres leches cake

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The best tres leches cake on the internet

This is the first time I’ve made a Tres leches cake – the legendary South American confection and it won’t be the last. It is utterly delicious, with a sublime texture and I’m pretty sure it’s the best tres leches cake on the internet. I ended up using six types of milk as opposed to three so it should actually be called a seis leches cake but somehow that doesn’t sound as cool.

Tres leches cake in the making

Nestle invited me to participate in a campaign to make a recipe using their milk range and of course, I said yes. They sent me a mystery box full of goodies and then gave me no restrictions whatsoever on what I could do. Basically, in blogger speak this = heaven.

Tres leches layer cake with caramel

So I plotted and planned and decided on the tres leches cake because it was unchartered territory and something I’ve always wanted to make. I also thought it would be a great way to include more than one of their products.

I found a can of Nestle dessert and cooking cream in my cupboard, so decided to use that instead of cream in the soaking milk part, and then while I was making my cake, I also decided to somehow include the caramel part. I mean that stuff is to die for. 

Probably the best tres leches cake on the internet

I wasn’t about to take any old sponge recipe and soak the hell out of it in milk and call it a tres leches cake. A traditional recipe has a very specific and fine crumb akin to a chiffon cake, so after extensive research online I settled on a very popular recipe that also looked the most straightforward. It’s supposed to be made as a one-layer cake and served in squares, but I’m a food stylist and I love layer cakes so that is how I rolled.

Probably the best tres leches cake on the internet

I tweaked a few of the quantities because the milk soak mix was way too much and even for my reduced quantities I had a little leftover to serve on the side. I added the caramel sauce part to add another layer of flavour deliciousness and aesthetic reasons. You could, of course, leave this out completely and simply decorate your cake with cherries or a light dusting of cinnamon.

I also changed a method, as this is something I see ALL the time and it irritates the hell out of me. When a recipe requires you to whisk the egg white to firm peaks they always seem to insist you do it at the end and when your baking bowl is already dirty thus needing you to wash things mid-bake.

This is totally unnecessary. I always whisk the egg whites at the beginning and then set them aside in another bowl. I then make the cake using the same egg white bowl as this will have zero effect on the integrity of the recipe. I simply fold the already whisked egg whites in at the end.

Tres leches layer cake with caramel

This was probably the first poke cake recipe invented and don’t be afraid to prick your cake a lot. I counted about a hundred stabs into each half as it reminded me of doing the 100 in Pilates. You really want to make it easy for the milk mixture to soak into your cake. 

Also, don’t be afraid that your cake will be too soggy, I mean it is ultra moist but it seriously laps it up like a sponge but keeps its soft spongy texture. You can see from this image what I’m talking about here.

I know every second blogger says a recipe is the ‘best ever’ all the time, but I’m not kidding when I say this is one of the best cakes I’ve ever made or eaten. It’s going right up there into the top tier of my cake artillery. To be pulled out to impress and to give love. This is also why I’m driving over to my nephews to give them this declaration. 

You might also like my coffee tres leches cake with dalgona cream which I make into a smaller square cake.

A tres leches layered cake with caramel

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Probably the best tres leches cake on the internet

I’ve also used fine muscovado sugar because I adore the flavour of it and demerara. It adds to the caramel profile of the cake. Also, don’t worry if the cake deflates a little after it comes out of the oven, this is totally OK. It’s an egg white/souffle kind of thing. 

Recipe – adapted from Pioneer Women

The best tres leches cake

My rendition of a Mexican tres leches cake made into a layered cake using 6 kinds of milk. It’s an absolutely wonderful recipe.
Print Recipe
The best tres leches cake on the internet
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:25 minutes



  • 5 free-range eggs separated
  • 150 grams / 1 cup cake flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fine muscovado sugar or golden caster sugar divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 80 ml / 1/3 cup milk

Milk soak

  • 150 ml Nestle condensed milk or 2 x 1/3 cups
  • 150 ml Nestle evapourated milk
  • 150 ml fresh cream


  • 1/2 a tin of Nestle caramel treat or dulce de leche about ½ cup
  • 60 ml /1/4 cup cream you can use the leftover cream from the dessert cream tin or add fresh
  • 250 ml / 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1-2 Tbsp icing sugar


  • Line two 23 cm cake tins with baking paper and Preheat the oven to 180C / 350 F.
  • In a stand mixer whisk the egg whites until peaking and then slowly add 1/4 a cup of the sugar and whisk for a further minute or so until firm. Scrape this all out and set it aside in another bowl.
  • Using the same bowl and whisk, beat the egg yolks and 3/4 cup (remaining) sugar until it’s light and fluffy. About 5 minutes.
  • Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  • Add the milk, vanilla, and sifted flour to the egg and sugar and mix briefly until well combined.
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the eggs whites by hand until well incorporated and then divide the mixture between the two cake tins.
  • Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until golden and springy to the touch. Your cake is done when a sharp knife is pierced into the middle and comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans.
  • While the cake is baking, mix all the milk soak ingredients together.
  • When the cakes are cooled (left in the pans) prick them all over with a sharp skewer. Pour the milk soak mixture over slowly and repeatedly until it can’t soak up anymore and leave for at least two hours. * when using a springform cake tin you might experience some leakage from the tins. To prevent this simply fold a piece of foil under each tin – or allow them to cool on a baking tray to catch any spillage.
  • When you are ready to serve, whip the cup of cream with 1 -2 tablespoons of icing sugar until soft peaks (don’t over whip), and whisk the caramel with the 1/4 cup of cream until smooth.
  • Place one layer of the cake down, spread a thin layer of caramel, and then a layer of cream. Top with the other cake and repeat. Scrape the sides to expose some cake – or simply cover that with cream too. I mean the more the better right?


The cake and milk soak can be made in advance.
The caramel adds a delicious sweet layer to this cake.
Author: Sam Linsell


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  1. Never heard of this cake but looks absolutely delicious. My favourite, very traditional #CulinaryCreation using Nestle condensed milk would be a lemon meringue pie.

  2. This is so cool for me. All the ingredients are kosher so I never had to adapt anything. It hardly had time to cool and my kitchen team took it out.

  3. My favourite #CulinaryCreation using condensemilk would be cheesecake but my family adores the peppermint crisp tart using caramel treat.

  4. I’m so with you on the egg whites and dirty bowl scenario :))))) True thumbs up and much appreciated when I made your honey ice cream!! You are my hero Sam xxxx Oh yes and your beautiful pics of the cake just shoved my chocolate craving out the way….bwaaahahaha….cake baking here we come 😉

  5. Marionette says:

    I find the creamy, ever so slightly sweet, taste of ideal milk delightful. My mom attributes my fondness of it to the fact that my grandmom raised her babies on ideal milk. I am not too sure whether this is a nutritionally wise choice but they sure loved it. So no recipe needed – only ideal milk and a hungry baby.

  6. oh yes and savage me just eats condensed milk straight out the can when no one’s around….but when I’m using complete self control, I love to bake traditional SA “soetkoekies” for the kiddies weekend dunks into hot chocolate, and for Papa and I, for our espresso 😉

  7. I use condensed milk for lemon meringue and evaporated milk beaten with jelly to make what we call fairy pudding.

  8. Linda Hollinger says:

    My best is to use condensed milk to make fudge for my dad. His absolute best. Xx

  9. Hi Marionette, I have heard of babies being raised on ideal milk

  10. I use caramel treat in my chocolate sauce. Sugar, vinegar, water, cocoa and butter. the caramel treat just gives it the creaminess.

  11. Hi a quick question, is cake flour in South Africa the equivalent to all purpose flour?

  12. Looks delicious!

    Nestle Condensed milk always comes in handy when making no-churn ice cream – our favourite is Raspberry Cheesecake or Snickers Ice Cream. Best! #CulinaryCreation

  13. Bokkie, I am going to bake this cake. I swear. It is HEAVEN. I always have a tin of condensed milk in my pantry as I absolutely ADORE that old Kook en Geniet mustard sauce (which I’ve renamed Mid-Century Modern Mustard because it dates from that era) consisting of almost equal parts condensed milk, sugar, mayo, vinegar and almost a third of a tin of Hot English Mustard powder. Tarts up any old sausage nicely. Must say I reread the bit about it being a “poke cake” several times before it sank in…like leche!

  14. Ah Bianca this made me smile, and that mustard sounds both gross and delicious at the same time #pokeacake

  15. Robyn, you had me at raspberry cheescake #love

  16. Hi Sheila yes it is the same

  17. That sounds so different Jane

  18. Oh geezzzzz, this is one of my all time favorite cakes!!! This one looks heavenly! I’m not much of a cake person and if I am going to eat one I prefer it to be a cake like this or an ice cream cake. The best on the internet, huh? Maybe I can get my friend to make it for me, lol

  19. This is absolutely stunning, Sam! So glad you went the layer cake route… this does look like the best tres leches cake!

  20. You had me at Caramel Treat! 😉

    I baked a red velvet poke cake for my son’s birthday, and while it was quite a bit sweeter than I’m used to, my family LOVED it and I just grinned mysteriously because my secret weapon was an entire tin of Nestle condensed milk poured over the hot cake.
    Also, when buying condensed milk for any recipe, I always buy two: one for the dish and one to hide behind the pickles for midnight fridge raids (by both mother and sons).

  21. MILK TART LIQUEUR or if you will DOS LECHES LICOR! It’s my easiest favourite #CulinaryCreation idea using condensed & evaporated milks; the perfect nightcap to keep handy in the fridge!

  22. Damn…
    I was going to use The Pioneer Woman’s recipe, which is very similar to yours, but was sold on the caramel. And the scraping of the sides to expose the cake is damn sexy. Thanks!

  23. HI Sandi – yes this recipe is based around Pioneer Woman’s but then I added all the additional milks and made it into a layer cake. It’s one of my faves.

  24. I had never heard of this cake before and found your recipe because a friend wanted one for her birthday in reminiscence of her time travelling. I made it, and it was AMAZING! She said it was better than she remembers. Thank you!

  25. Hi Elora, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It is one of my all-time faves

  26. Hello Sam, can you please clarify the ingredients for the icing. Will I need 1 or 2 tbsp of confectionary sugar to mix with the whipping cream? Also, will I need 1/2 c or 1/4 c of cream to mix with the caramel? Thank you!

  27. Hi Ashley – apologies for the confusion I have gone in and fixed the recipe. you can use 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar depending on how sweet you want it and use 1/4 cup of cream to thin out the caramel.

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