Tres Leches

Tres Leches Cake Recipe - Cowboy Kent Rollins

Hola amigos, and thank you for stopping by the website! Cinco de Mayo is coming up, so I thought I’d share the Cowboy Tres Leches recipe to help you celebrate. Even if you’re visiting us well after the holiday, Tres Leches is always a great dessert choice, sure to impress your friends and family.

Tres Leches cake comes from Nicaragua, where families would come together and enjoy this cake for generations. Tres Leches translates to ‘three milks.’ The origin of that name is from the way the cake is finished; the baker pokes holes in the cake and pours over a sweet mixture of three different varieties of milk.

Many of you bakers from the southern United States will be familiar with the concept as a “poke cake.” Whether you’re poking the cake to add extra flavor or to take a dry cake and make it a moist one, it’s a celebrated recipe you can find in most South American restaurants today.

Tres Leches Cake - Cowboy Kent Rollins

Pastel de Tres Leches

There’s our Spanish lesson for the day – Pastel de Tres Leches translates to the ‘cake of three milks.’ We are going to start this cake by whisking the dry ingredients together first: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon. Make sure you sift that flour one time before adding the other ingredients.

Tip: Spoon flour into your measuring cup gently, then use a straight edge to level any excess off the top. Do not pack the flour down. This will guarantee the right consistency and prevent a dense, dry cake.

Next, separate los huevos – the eggs – placing the egg whites in one bowl and yolks in another. Add 3/4 of the sugar to the yolks, along with the milk and vanilla extract, and mix well with a whisk.

Tip: Cold eggs are easier to separate than warm eggs.

Use a stand mixer or hand mixer and beat the egg whites on high for about a minute. Add the rest of the sugar and beat until the whites begin to form peaks. You don’t want the egg whites to get super-stiff, just frothy and a little thick. If the eggs are too stiff, the cake will be a little dryer than you want.

Mix the yolk mixture into the dry ingredients. Don’t stir so much as fold the yolks into the flour gently. When well combined, add the frothy egg whites. Fold until you have a light, fluffy batter.

Grease and flour the pan well. If you’re using a cast iron Dutch oven, don’t pre-heat it, just make sure it’s room temperature or a tad warmer. If you’re cooking indoors, use a 9 by 13 baking dish and cook at 350 for 20 minutes or until you can poke the cake with a toothpick and it’ll come out clean. If you’re cooking on coals, use a high trivet. Place coals around the outside of the Dutch oven and all over the lid. Rotate the pan and the lid at opposite directions every few minutes to ensure the cake will be baked evenly.

Glaseado de Tres Leches (Glaze of Three Milks)

For the glaze, we are going to use the three milks that give Tres Leches its name. Mix together the heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk with the rum and the sugar. Once the cake is cool, poke holes two inches apart all over the cake. Pour the three milk glaze over the entire cake, filling up all of the holes.

What we have here is a super sweet, moist, rich cake. It’s beautiful. Set in the ice box for about three hours for the best flavor. Cover with whipped cream and berries of your choice. Grate the cinnamon stick over the top and serve to your friends and family.

Tres Leches Cake Recipe - Cowboy Kent Rollins

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Tres Leches Cake Recipe - Cowboy Kent Rollins

Tres Leches – Cowboy Kent Rollins

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • cup whole milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons rum
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Whipped cream for topping
  • Mixed berries for topping


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch inch baking pan or a 10-inch Dutch oven.
  • In a medium bowl, sift the flour. Stir in the baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Separate the egg yolks and the whites. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, ¾ cup of the sugar, milk and vanilla. Set aside.
  • Pour the egg whites in a bowl and beat with a mixer on high for 1 minute. Add the remaining sugar and mix on high until they form peaks.
  • Add the egg yolk mixture to the flour mixture and fold in until smooth. Add in the egg whites and fold gently until blended well.
  • Gently pour the cake batter into the pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Milk Glaze

  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream, rum, and sugar. Mix well.
  • After the cake cools for about 15 minutes, poke holes about 2 inches apart over the top of the cake and pour the glaze over, making sure that all the holes get filled well.
  • Place in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Remove and top with whip cream, grate the cinnamon stick over the top. Add berries and serve.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!