Pastel Tres Leches

Three-Milk Cake

tres leche cake

You may have heard of tres leches cake, or three milk cake. The three milks referred to are sweetened condensed, evaporated and cream. In this version by Margarita Carrillo Arronte from her amazing huge new tome, Mexico: The Cookbook, she calls for corn syrup and mentions that it can be “golden”. You could use light corn syrup or Lyle’s Golden, but we do not recommend dark corn syrup. The strawberries are optional. I suggest only using them if in season. The book is over 700 pages of detailed, authentic Mexican recipes – a must have for those with an interest in this culture. Also try her Drunken Coconut and Pineapple Cake.

Adapted from Mexico: The Cookbookby Margarita Carrillo Arronte. Publisher by Phaidon 2014. Photographs by Fiamma Piacentini.

Region: All Regions

Preparation Time: 50 minutes, plus 10 minutes standing

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Pastel Tres Leches
Makes: 8 servings
  • Butter, for greasing
  • 2½ cups (10 oz/275 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 8 extra large (UK large) eggs, separated
  • 1½ cups (9 oz/230 g) extra fine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups (1 lb/450 g) strawberries, hulled and halved, plus extra for garnish
For the cream:
  • 1 (14-oz/395-g) can condensed milk
  • 1 (5-oz/150-ml) can evaporated milk
  • ⅔ cup (5 fl oz/150 ml) light (single) cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1–2 tablespoons brandy
For the topping:
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup (3½ oz/100 g) extra fine sugar
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons corn (golden) syrup
  • Strawberries, to garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas Mark 4). Grease and line an 11-inch (28-cm) round cake pan. Sift together the flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla until ribbons form. Gently fold in the flour and baking powder mixture, alternating with the milk.
  3. Whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until they form stiff peaks, then fold into the mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 30–40 minutes or until a toothpick (cocktail stick) inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  4. Meanwhile, make the cream. Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until combined.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool. Turn out onto a plate, slice cake in half, into two layers. Add the strawberries on top of one layer, (if using) and then place the second layer on top. Pour the cream over it while is still warm.
  6. To make the topping, put the egg whites, sugar, lemon juice, and syrup in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the surface of the water. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is fluffy, then remove the bowl from the pan, and continue whisking until a meringue forms.
  7. Cover the cake with the meringue using a spatula and brown the tips of the meringue with a culinary blow torch. Serve with the cream.


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