A truly Venezuelan tres leches cake is something that changes your life. I’m not even exaggerating with this. To say that this spongy cake sogged in the most delicious milk cream is “good” is a major understatement.
You can tell that I’m beyond excited to show you this family recipe. My mom is well-known for her tres leches. It’s something that defines her. My friends always wanted to come to my home the day my mom was making tres leches—I wonder why. If she wanted to shine in a church meeting, she would bring this cake. You know, the golden cart. That recipe that you know everybody love.
I found myself using this tactic without even realizing it. Can you guess the recipe that won the heart of my boyfriend? Yeap a tres leches cake closed the deal.
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What does a good tres leches need?
- The spongiest cake: You can’t use your regular vanilla cake mix for a tres leches. The key is to make a cake with a part of whipped egg whites and a part of creamy yolks. This cake doesn’t have butter or any kind of oil. This way it has plenty air bubbles to fill with the milk cream.
- The milk cream: This is the main feature of this cake. The syrup is made of condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream. That’s why it’s called “tres leches”, you know, “three kinds of milk”. Sometimes latinos run out of ideas for their names.
- The meringue: The top of this cake is a classic merengue of whipped egg whites. Really easy to do but you have to be careful with overbeating the egg whites. Once they are spongy there is no need to keep whipping. Otherwise, the meringue will become liquid in a couple hours.
You can make this cake the day before and decorate with the meringue just before serving. This way the white topping will be flawless.
The tres leches are one of those cakes that gets better the day after when the cake has had more time to absorb the milk cream.
You can garnish this cake with powder cinnamon. Some people use fresh fruit. If you decided to use fruit, try to place it only when the cake is going to be served. The water of the fruit will melt the meringue. The last thing that you want is stained holes in your meringue with soggy fruit inside.
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- ⅔ granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 egg whites
- 3 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- lime zest
- 1 cup condensed milk
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup evaporated milk
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F)
Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks. Add half of the sugar in small batches during the process.
Beat the yolks and add the remaining sugar. Beat until the yolks are creamy and lighter.
With a spatula, mix gently the egg whites with the yolks.
Add the flour, the vanilla extract, and the salt. Incorporate with encircling movements. Don’t beat the batter or all that air that we previously built will be gone.
Pour the batter into a greased cake pan and take it to the oven for 15 minutes until the cake is slightly brown.
Let the cake chill completely.
With the help of a knife, make small holes in the cake (this way it will absorb more of the syrup).
Mix all the ingredients.
Pour it over the cake and let it soak for at least 1 hour (you can let it overnight).
Beat the white egg until stiff peaks. Add the powdered sugar, the vanilla extract and the lime zest.
Decorate the tres leches.
The time of this recipe is 10 min for prep, 15 min to cook the cake, 1 hr to let the cake absorb the syrup in the fridge. Total time 1 hr 25 min.
I’m Maria and I love cooking—and mostly EATING—food from all around the world. I’ve been sharing my abuela’s secret Latin-American recipes for the last 7 years with the world on this blog. I’ve been a full-time food blogger for many years and I’m always trying new delicious meals that don’t require a culinary degree or a Michelin-star chef. I also love traveling, cats, and knitting.