Pastel de Tres Leches


Daring Bakers challenge - September 2013

When I read the description for this month's Daring Bakers challenge set by Inma form La Galletika, I, like probably many others before me, thought that there was no chance that the sponge could soak such a big amount of fluid without falling apart. I have been making milk-soaked Semolina cake, which is very moist and does not hold shape very well, for ages so I falsely judged this recipe going by the experience I had with my Semolina cake.

I couldn't have been more wrong. This cake lives up to its reputation of s "special occasion" Mexican (or rather South American) dessert with all the beautiful versions of it. Give it a go, it does not have to be made in one day, and stays fresh if nicely covered in a refrigerator for days.

Classic Three Milks Cake / Pastel de Tres Leches

For the vanilla sponge cake
5 large eggs (separated)
½ cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (125 gm) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) of vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) (5 oz) (140 g) all-purpose plain sifted flour 

For three milk syrup
1 can (14 oz) (400 gm) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 oz) (340 gm) evaporated milk
1 cup (240 ml) double cream, or 1 cup of single cream or 1 cup milk
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons (10 ml) rum (or other flavouring)

Topping and filling
2 cups (500 ml) of double cream or whipping cream
Canned or fresh fruit, optional (to fill and decorate the cake)

Directions for the Sponge Cake:
  • Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Prepare a square 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) pan or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan.
  • Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
  • Beat the egg whites,when the soft peak is formed slowly add the sugar in small batches.
  • Whip until stiff peaks for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, beat egg yolks at medium-high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the egg yolks become pale in colour, creamy and puffy. Stir in vanilla.
  • Pour the egg yolks over the egg whites and gently fold until combined.
  • Sprinkle the flour over it and mix to combine (do not overdo it as it will result in a denser, flatter cake).
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let it cool and then cut the cake horizontally in half and place both parts into a large deep tray.
Three milks syrup
  • Add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, double cream and cinnamon stick to a saucepan, bring to boil, reduce the heat and continue boiling for 5 minutes. Remove it and let it cool.
  • Once it is cool, add the rum or any other flavouring you are using.
  • Gradually brush the milk syrup onto the cake (including the cut surfaces) until all of it is absorbed. Rest the cake in the refrigerator overnight to complete the soaking process. 

  • Spread half of the whipped cream on the bottom layer (cover with canned or fresh fruit if you wish) and decorate the top layer with the other half of the cream (and the fruit, if you've chosen to use it), optionally top the cake with 100 g of good quality chocolate melted with the same amount of double cream.

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