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 landed 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

Tres leches layer cake with caramel

Ok, let me dial it back. 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. 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. 

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

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 left over to serve on the side. I add the caramel sauce part to add another layer of flavour deliciousness and for 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 it 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 as 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. And 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. 

A tres leches layered cake with caramel

I’ve also used a fine mucavado sugar because I adore the flavour of it and demarara. 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

Tres (seis) leches layer cake with caramel
Write a review
  1. Cake
  2. 5 free-range eggs, separated
  3. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  5. 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  6. 1 cup fine muscavado sugar or golden caster sugar (divided)
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 1/3 cup milk
  9. Milk soak
  10. 150ml Nestle condensed milk (or 2 x 1/3 cups)
  11. 150ml Nestle evapourated milk
  12. 150ml Nestle dessert and cooking cream (or fresh cream)
  13. Icing
  14. 1/2 a tin of Nestle caramel treat or dule de leche
  15. 1/4 cup cream (you can use the left over cream from the dessert cream tin or add fresh)
  16. 250ml / 1 cup whipping cream
  17. 1 Tbsp icing sugar
  1. Line two 23 cm cake tins with baking paper.
  2. Pre heat the oven to 180C / 350 F
  3. 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 aside in a another bowl.
  4. Using the same bowl and whisk, beat the egg yolks and 3/4 cup (remaining) sugar until its light and fluffy. About 5 minutes.
  5. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder.
  6. Add the milk, vanilla and sifted four and mix briefly until well combined.
  7. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the eggs whites through until well incorporated and then divine 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
  8. While the cake is baking, mix all the milk soak ingredients together.
  9. When the cakes are cooled, and leaving them in their pans, prick them all over with a sharp skewer. Pour the milk soak mixture over slowly and repeatedly until it can't soak up any more 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  baking tray to catch any spillage. 
  10. When you are ready to serve, whip the cupe of cream with 2 tablespoons of icing sugar until soft peaks (don't over whip), and whisk the caramel with the 1/2 cup of cream until smooth.
  11. Place one layer 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?
Drizzle and Dip

My 10 best cake recipes

My best ever baking recipes

Probably the best tres leches cake on the internet


*This blog post is proudly sponsored by Nestle



Find me on Instagram



  1. Lauren C

    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

    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

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

  9. Sam

    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. Sam

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

  15. Sam

    Robyn, you had me at raspberry cheescake #love

  16. 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

  17. 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).

  18. 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!

  19. 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!

  20. Sam

    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.

  21. 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!

  22. Sam

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

Leave a Reply