Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake

The first time I tasted a Tres Leches cake was at the end of a rather heavy meal while doing a review of the newly opened Sancho’s Cantina in Bandra. I wasn’t looking forward to dessert but since I needed to taste every course I ordered one with the intention of sharing it with my companion. One bite into the sweet, moist cake and I knew there was going to be no sharing!

Though the cake doesn’t look terribly enticing visually, it tastes absolutely divine. And the reason for this is quite simple: tres leches translates into three milks and this cake is simply soaked in a syrup of condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. How could anyone not like it?

While Tres Leches is commonly found in Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants the use of tinned products seems to indicate that the dessert itself is of fairly recent origin though. However, it seems to have descended from a colonial era Mexican dessert according to this article.

Nonetheless, it’s really easy to make and all you need is a good quality sponge cake to begin with. A butter cake will do as well, but since it’s not as light as an egg white sponge it might be less absorbent. I’m not a big fan of baking so I went out and bought a ready-made sponge which was not ideal but gave me a very good result.

The rabri topping was my idea of course and so this version of the cake should actually be called quatre leches.

200 gm sponge cake
75 ml condensed milk
75 ml evaporated milk
50 ml cream
75 gm rabri
almond and pistachio slivers to garnish

Mix the condensed and evaporated milk with the cream.
Warm up the cake slightly either in a convection or microwave oven.
Place the cake in a cake tin or any container with sides that come up at least half way up the cake.
With either a fork or a skewer make holes in the cake 1 cm apart.
Gently pour the milk mixture over the cake. Try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can. Cover and keep aside to soak at room temperature for at last 30-45 minutes. Some of the mixture may sink to the bottom of the cake.
Pour this out into another container and keep aside.
Spread the rabri over the surface of the cake. Smoothen with a palette knife or butter knife, making sure to regularly dip the knife in warm water to prevent the rabri from sticking.
Garnish with the almond and pistachio.
Keep in the fridge to chill for at least 2-3 hours, preferably overnight.
Serve cut into wedges. Drizzle the excess milk syrup on the base.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Serves 6-8

If you can’t find evaporated milk reduce 125 ml regular milk on low heat to 75 ml. Do not bring to boil on high heat and then reduce to low. The milk needs to be gently evaporated. Once it comes to a boil stir frequently to ensure that the solids do not stick to the sides of the container.

6 replies to “Tres Leches Cake

  1. Antoine, I think the use of condensed milk is a clue to the recipe’s age. Milk was first condensed by Nicolas Appert in France in 1820, as a reaction to the difficulty in storing or transporting milk. There’s another dessert called the Key Lime Pie from Florida which was invented in the 1870s and used condensed milk because fresh milk wasn’t easily available. I came across this while watching an episode of Dexter 🙂


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