Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake

Sweet yellow cake meets three types of milk and fluffy whipped cream for an easy make-ahead dessert.

About the only thing you could do to improve cake and milk in this scenario is to actually put the milk directly into the cake. Such a cake does exist, mostly in Latin America, and it goes by the name tres leches, which of course means “three milks…” it also happens to be my professional wrestling name.

Weights are given where it matters and, yes, metric is better.

This recipe first appeared in Season 11 of Good Eats.

Tres Leches Cake


  • 191 grams cake flour, plus extra for the pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 227 grams sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 227 grams sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil and flour a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease speed to low and, with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and mix to thoroughly combine. Next, add the vanilla and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined.
  5. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan — it will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200°F, 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Remove the pan to a cooling rack and cool for 30 minutes. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork.


  1. Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup or other large pour-friendly vessel. Pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake overnight.


  1. Put the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on low speed until it forms soft peaks. Increase the speed to medium and whip until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and chill until ready to serve.

Yields: 1 (9-by-13-inch) cake

Active time: 45 minutes

Total time: 9 hours 10 minutes

Alton Brown Tres Leches Cake Recipe


Add yours
  1. 1
    Don McPhee

    I watched the end of this episode on TV and thought it interesting, so I made it. The only changes were vanilla sugar was used and I added two tbs. of Corn Starch per cup of AP Flour to make Cake Flour.
    By watching, reading and making, there is nothing I can add. It is currently in the fridge with the final layer in place. Others have heard of this cake, I had not. Serving this evening.

  2. 4

    There are conversion charts online, such as or just type in conversation charts for baking ingredients. It’s a lifesaver for me because I like to weigh my Ingredients as I have had problems with recipes in the past due to improper weights and amounts of ingredients. Not all measuring cups-spoons-tools are accurate as I’ve also learned after wasting expensive ingredients. I am a retired school cafeteria manager and I still appreciate the wealth of knowledge I’ve accumulated through the years. And as others mentioned if the recipe says cake flour or whatever it specifies you cannot change these items or yes your cakes, cookies, breads will be dense, heavy, or not turn out as it should. The yeast, baking powder and baking soda must all be fresh, no exceptions as this can ruin a great day. Read the recipe before hand too because your eggs, milk, butter may all need to be room temperature or very cold. Also in “some cases” I’ve used almond milk subbed in for dairy because of lactose issues and had great results as in quick bread doughs, cinnamon roll dough, bread dough, pancakes, brownies and also used it to make sour milk by adding 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar per cup of almond milk-let sit 10 minutes, stir. Almond milk worked for me in pound cakes and icing, frostings and of course be sure there aren’t any nut allergies. I’m going to try this and see if I can sub almond/coconut milk because my daughter is lactose intolerant. The cream topping can definitely be made by whipping the coconut cream from canned coconut milk after draining the water off.

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