Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tres Leches Cake With Arequipe Whipped Cream

I wish I could say that I grew up eating tres leches cake when I lived in Colombia or even when I was a kid here in the US but I would be lying to you if I did. My family is not really big into baking and it seems like I was the only one who is crazy about it, so we never had it growing up. In fact, I didn't actually get to eat it until I was in college and it was only because my mother gave me a leftover piece from a birthday party she had been invited to, and it was delicious! 

You will read in many food blogs or even recipe sites that tres leches cake originated in Mexico, others say it was creted in Costa Rica, others say South America, many in Colombia say it was born there even though they call it "torta genovesa" (Genoese cake), and they're all right... and wrong. No one really knows where it came from even if they swear up and down that they do, but the reality is, no one can really say for sure. It does have a lot of Latin flavor though so I'll give them that much. I guess the correct answer would be that it is considered a Latin American cake. How about that?

The traditional way of baking it is by using a sheet cake pan, usually 9 x 13 inches (33 x 23 cm), so that it can catch all the extra liquid that the cake may not be able to absorb, plus it makes it much easier to bake. However, my favorite way of making it is by using a 9 x 2 inches (23 x 5 cm) round baking dish and then cut it in half to make it into a two tier cake, it not only looks better but you can also fill it with whipped cream and fruit if you want. The trick is to use less liquid or you'll end up with a huge mess. In this recipe I decided to add a little bit of arequipe to the whipped cream to give it a richer flavor and the result is amazing!

¡Buen Provecho!


8 servings


1½  cup (210 g) all purpose flour
1      tbsp baking powder
¼    tsp salt
4      egg whites
1      cup (200 g) white sugar
4      egg yolks 
½    cup (120 ml) milk
1      tsp vanilla extract
1      cup (200 g) strawberries, sliced (for the filling)
4      large strawberries, cut in half (for decoration)

Arequipe Whipped Cream

2      cups (480 ml) whipping cream
3      tbsp arequipe
1/3  cup (55 g) powdered sugar
½    tsp vanilla extract

Leches (milks)

½   cup (120 ml) heavy cream 
1     small can evaporated milk (approx. 10 oz.)
½   cup (120 ml) sweetened condensed milk


1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

2. In a medium bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. Whisk egg whites until frothy. Then, slowly add sugar while whisking at high speed until it thickens, approximately 3-4 minutes.

4. Add egg yolks one at a time while mixer is still running and mix at high speed for another 3-5 minutes until they're blended thoroughly

5. Add half of the flour mixture and keep mixing until it is well blended. Then, add the milk and the vanilla extract. Finally, add the remaining flour. Keep mixing for about 2-3 more minutes until everything is well blended.

6. Grease and flour a 9 x 2 inch (23 x 5 cm) round baking pan and pour in the batter. Tap a few times so the air bubbles rise to the top and bake for about 30-35 or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the baked cake cool on a cooling rack.

7. Meanwhile, prepare the whipping cream by mixing ½ cup (120 ml) whipping cream with the arequipe. Mix well.

8. Put the remaining whipping cream in a mixing bowl that has been in the freezer for at lease 15 minutes. Mix at high speed until it foam forms. Add the arequipe mixture and keep mixing until it thickens, approx. 1-2 minutes. Then add the powdered sugar and the vanilla extract, keep mixing at high speed until soft peaks form (about 3-5 minutes). Refrigerate until ready to use.

9. In a small container mix the heavy cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Mix well and set aside.

10. Once the cake has cooled, cut it in half with a cake leveler or knife to end up with two pieces. Poke one of the cake pieces with a fork and then pour half of the milk mixture, let the cake absorb it thoroughly.

11. Once the milk has been absorbed, cover the cake with some of the whipped cream and then place the strawberry slices on top. Then cover the strawberries with another layer of whipped cream.

12. Put the second cake piece on top of the strawberries, poke it with a fork and pour the rest of the milk mixture, let the cake absorb it. With the help of a spatula cover the top and sides of the cake with the whipped cream.

13. Put the remaining whipped cream inside a large pastry bag with the tip of your choice to decorate the top of the cake, as well as the lower edge. Finally put the strawberry halves on top of the cake. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

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Thank you!


  1. Hi I LOVE your video.. :) But I have a question I have a 13x9x2 cake pan di I add more? if so how much?


    1. Thank you so much Sparkle! You can use the 9x13 inch pan with the amounts I have for the recipe, however it will take less time to bake, so keep an eye on it. Also, if you want to make with the filling, it may be tricky to cut the cake in half but it is doable. If you only want to do one layer and not add any filling I suggest you add more milk mixture, so use one large can of evaporated milk, which I think it's 12 oz., one large can of condensed milk which should be about 14 oz. and 1 cup of heavy cream. Otherwise, it will come out dry.

  2. I can't wait to try this!

    I look forward to making soon since I can't seem to find it anywhere in North Dakota.

    Mrs. Murphy

    1. Thank you for your comment, Mrs. Murphy. And please, let me know if you have any questions regarding the recipe. You'll see how amazing it comes out. =)

  3. Hello Diana, that looks amazing! Im Colombian too and it is great to see people like you representing our food in such an awesome way. THANK YOU!!! I want to bake this cake for my mother in law next weekend, Can i bake it on saturday taking into account the party is on Sunday? will it be good for the next day if I leave it in the fridge? Thank you!

    1. Hola Carito, thank you for your comment! It makes me so happy that you're enjoying the recipes I've been posting.

      Absolutely, if you want to make the cake a day before, you can; however, don't decorate it with the whipped cream because it will start to lose it's shape. What I like to do is bake the cake the day before and finish it the next day.

  4. hello is it 1 Tablespoon of baking powder or 1 teaspoon? i made just the bread was super sweet? so bread sweet + tress leches would it be alot? im mexican maybe is different

    1. Hi Alfonos, yes it's 1 tablespoon of baking powder because it's a spongecake and you need it to rise as much as possible so it can absorb the tres leches. If you think the cake is too sweet, you can lower the amount of sugar when you make it, we all have different tastes and I've never heard a complaint about it being too sweet. The same thing goes for the leches milk mix, it does come out sweet but it's subtle and not overwhelming.

  5. hello Diana, I just wanted to thank you for such an awesome recipe. I made it yesterday for my mother-in-law and everybody loved it. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    1. Oh my gosh carito, I'm so happy that you guys loved the cake so much! And thank you for letting me know!!! =)

  6. Thank a lot for your response.. Appreciated. I did cover the cake when i kept in fridge. But as you told, the hardening could be because of limited addition of the milk mixture.I wanted this cake for a birthday , so i wanted it out the pan (for the occasion). But what i did is, after i have cut the cake into pieces i added more milk mixture to individual pieces before eating. It softened almost immediately. And thanks for sharing such a nice recipe, everyone who ate the cake loved it.

    1. Nice to see you here on the blog preethy! And I'm so glad you were able to make it moist again by adding more milk to the pieces of cake. It still odd to me that it came out so dry because I've never had that problem. Oh well. Thanks for making the cake and for letting me know how it turned out! =)

  7. This is the best tres leches cake I have ever had!! If I use your recipe (the cake part) with a 9x13 pan will it be thinner(not as tall)?

    1. I'm so glad you liked it Elizabeth!!! =D

      If you use a 9x13 inch pan it will be a bit thinner but not much, it just makes it difficult to add that middle layer of strawberries but you can skip that part. If you want to see what it looks like, you can check out my Chocolate Tres Leches Cake recipe where I used the same amount of ingredients and technique using a 9x13 inch pan.

      Here's the link:

  8. Hi Diana I love this recipe! I am just wondering if it's ok to divide the cake into two cake pan?

    1. Hi Yaiza, yes, you can! I'm just used to using one cake pan and then cutting the cake in half because that's the way I was taught.

  9. Hi Diana, my dad had a birthday party on Saturday and I made your "Tres Leches" cake it was delicious everyone was so impressed with it. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Rocio, congratulations!!! I'm so glad you decided to make the recipe and that your family enjoyed it so much. I hope your dad had a great birthday! =)

  10. Hi I have made this cake with your recipe and it is delicious thank you . I do have a question though my cake does not come out flat which makes it difficult to decorate. I'm very new at baking any suggestions?

    1. Hi Paola! Thank you so much for making the recipe and I'm so happy you liked it, it's definitely one of our favorites at home.

      If the cake comes out round on top, that's a normal thing that happens and most bakers will shave the top off with a serrated knife to make it flat and then turn it over to decorate it because the bottom will always be flat.

      If the bump is too big, it meas that the temperature of your oven is a bit high. If you think about it, the edges are the first to cook with the heat and if the oven is too hot, they will cook really fast pushing the raw batter towards the center and this is what forms the round tops. To avoid it you can lower your oven by 5-10 degrees or start checking if your cake is done before it's time.

      But like I said, most bakers will just shave off the tops. And in fact, that's how cake pops were invented, they just used those scraps to make little balls and cover them with frosting. =)


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