Cake with cream and caramel on plate

Tres leches cake

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(5 ratings)

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 40 mins - 45 mins plus cooling

More effort

Serves 16

Bake a classic Mexican tres leches cake, sometimes called milk cake, for an afternoon treat or coffee morning – it gets its name from the three types of milk used

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal301
  • fat15g
  • saturates9g
  • carbs34g
  • sugars25g
  • fibre1g
  • protein6g
  • salt0.3g
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  • flavourless oil, for the tin
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
    Baking powder

    Baking powder

    bay-king pow-dah

    Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

  • 100ml milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a 'complete' food…

  • 410g can evaporated milk
  • 200ml sweetened condensed milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • pinch cinnamon



    A fragrant spice which comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree. When dried, it curls into…


  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Lightly oil and line the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin.

  2. Put the egg whites in a large bowl with a pinch of salt. Beat with an electric hand whisk until foamy, about 3 mins. Keep mixing while you add 150g of the sugar, a spoonful at a time, until thick and glossy.

  3. In another bowl, mix the egg yolks, remaining sugar and vanilla (no need to clean the beaters first) for 2 mins, or until pale and foamy. Add the flour, baking powder and milk to the egg yolks, and use a spatula to fold everything together.

  4. Add a large spoonful of egg white to the cake mix, beat together to loosen the mixture, then gently fold through the remaining egg whites with a large metal spoon (being careful not to over-stir so you don’t knock out too much air), until you have a smooth batter.

  5. Pour into the tin, smooth the top and bake for 40-45 mins until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Mix together the evaporated milk, condensed milk and 3 tbsp of the cream.

  6. Leave the cake to cool for 10 mins in the tin, then ease a knife around the sides. Poke holes over the surface with a skewer, then pour over half the milk mixture. After 5 mins or so, most of it should have soaked into the cake. Leave for another 5 mins, then transfer to a plate and pour over some of the remaining milk until it starts to leak a little. (Any leftover milk that won’t soak into the cake can be served on the side.) Leave to cool.

  7. Whip the remaining cream and icing sugar together until holding soft peaks. Spread the cream over the cake and sprinkle with a little cinnamon. Can be made and chilled a day ahead. Serve in squares with any remaining soaking milk.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Be the first to comment...We'd love to hear how you got on with this recipe. Did you like it? Would you recommend others give it a try?
7th May, 2020
This didn't work out for me at all - it had a bit of rise (nowhere near as much as in the photo) but when I cut into it, the top had 'split' from the bottom layer, which didn't rise at all. What did I do wrong?
lulu_grimes's picture
11th May, 2020
Hello Katherine, I'm sorry this didn't work out for you. I can't think what happened other than the cake mixture wasn't thicken enough to hold the egg whites and separated out before the cake was cooked enough to set it. Was the top layer light and fluffy? we will test the recipe again. Lulu
Alex Douglas's picture
Alex Douglas
11th Nov, 2019
This is a great recipe. It is all about the sponge cake as you can't go wrong with the milk and whipped cream. Make sure you fold the egg whites in lightly! This is the key as you want the sponge to be a bit meringue like and crunchy. The crunch of the sponge and the rich sweetness of the milk mixture is where the magic happens.
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