Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Editor's Choice
Fresh-sliced fruits complete Mexican Cake with Three Milks

By Joan Namkoong
Advertiser Food Editor

Pastel de Tres Leches really does call for pouring about five cups of liquid over the just-baked cake. And the cake still holds together.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Pastel de Tres Leches — Cake with Three Milks — is a Mexican celebration cake traditionally topped with whipped cream, shaved fresh coconut and tropical fruit.

It's a pudding-like sponge cake that achieves its texture from the three milks poured over it as it comes out of the oven.

When you read the recipe and then measure the milk, you'll think there's a mistake because there's about five cups of liquid to pour over the beautiful, just-baked cake.

But I tested the recipe and can tell you the milk will be absorbed without the cake turning to complete mush.

Instead, the cake holds together: moist, sweet and so delicious on its own.

Rather than its garnish of cream and coconut, I recently served Pastel de Tres Leches with cream and fresh-sliced ripe mangoes. It was a divine treat.

Sliced ripe peaches, nectarines, plums, berries or any fruit would be equally wonderful (provided the fruit was fully ripe).

Even without whipped cream, the combination of moist cake and fruit is a winner.

This recipe appeared in the March edition of Martha Stewart Living; I have reduced the milk a little from the original recipe.

Prepare this cake a day ahead of when you want to serve it; it's a perfect potluck or picnic dessert.

Pastel de Tres Leches

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • Additional butter to grease pans
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk


  • Heavy cream, whipped
  • Shaved fresh coconut, sliced mango or other fruit

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking pan.

With an electric mixer, beat egg whites, baking soda and salt on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.

Add yolks to the whites and beat until combined. With mixer on low speed, add sugar and blend in. With a spatula, fold in melted butter.

Sift one-fourth of flour over mixture and fold in; repeat until all flour is blended in. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes, or until cake is firm and cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on wire rack.

About 5 minutes before cake is done, whisk together milk, evaporated milk and condensed milk. As soon as cake comes out of oven, pour milk mixture over the entire cake. The milks will be absorbed in 3-5 minutes. Set cake aside, cool, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

To serve, top slices with whipped cream and sliced fruit (or just pour a little cream over and top with fruit). Serves 12.