Out of all the desserts in the world, cake ranks pretty low on my list, but tres leches isn’t just any cake. When my family moved to Venezuela as missionaries, I tried tres leches for the first time. I loved it so much, that my mom made it for my birthday every year — even after we moved back to the States.
My mom would make tres leches for other special occasions as well. I still remember Cultural Awareness Day in middle school, where students brought food from other nations. I brought homemade tres leches. At first, students were hesitant to try it, but once one did, word of its deliciousness spread fast. It ended up being the first clean dish there!
Tres leches reminds me of years spent growing up in Venezuela, as well as happy memories with friends on birthdays. I recently tried making my mom’s recipe for tres leches for the first time and am happy to say it was a success! If I can cook it then you can too!
Here is my recipe for Tres Leches Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Sift ¾ cup flour and ½ teaspoon baking powder together and set aside.
3. Cream ¼ cup butter and ½ cup sugar together until fluffy. (You can also use margarine if you don’t have butter.)
4. Add 3 eggs and ¼ teaspoon vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each one.
5. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Add the flour mixture about 2 tablespoons at a time. Mix until well blended.
6. Grease and flour one 8×8 baking pan, then pour batter into the pan. Smooth out the batter to make it even.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
8. Combine 1 cup whole milk, 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk, and 6 ounces evaporated milk in a bowl.
These three kinds of milk (or leches in Spanish) are where the cake gets its name!
9. Once the cake is done baking and has cooled, take a fork and puncture the cake across the entire surface. Pour the mixed milk over the cake.
If you want to eat the cake chilled (I recommend it this way), put the cake in the fridge for at least 15 minutes before adding the whipped cream.
10. For the whipped cream, whip ¾ cup heavy whipping cream, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and ½ cup white sugar together in a bowl, adding the sugar gradually.
If you want to skip this step, you can also use store-bought whipped cream, but keep in mind it’s not as yummy!
11. Add the homemade whipped cream to the cake, then serve and enjoy!
Pro tip: Due to the milk ingredients in the cake, make sure to refrigerate or freeze any leftovers — that is, if there is anything left!
This recipe makes 1 cake in an 8×8 pan, or you may double the recipe in a 13×9 baking dish.
¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup white sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
6 oz evaporated milk
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup white sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Recipe shared by Nate Murphy, former missionary kid to Venezuela and TEAM’s digital media associate.
What’s your favorite international food to make? Share it with us in the comments below!
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