Tres leches cake

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Tres leches cake
A decorated slice of tres leches cake
Alternative namesTorta de tres leches, pan tres leches, bizcocho de tres leches, pastel de tres leches.
TypeSponge cake (or butter cake)
Region or stateLatin America, Caribbean, Southern Europe
Main ingredientsCake base; evaporated milk, condensed milk, heavy cream

A tres leches cake (lit.'three milks cake') (Spanish: pastel de tres leches, torta de tres leches or bizcocho de tres leches), also known as pan tres leches ("three milks bread"), is a sponge cake—in some recipes, a butter cake—soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.

When butter is not used, tres leches is a very light cake, with many air bubbles. This distinct texture is why it does not have a soggy consistency, despite being soaked in a mixture of three types of milk.

Popularity and origins[edit]

The idea for creating a cake soaked in a liquid is likely of Medieval European origin, as similar cakes, such as British trifle and rum cake, and tiramisu from Italy, use this method.[1] Recipes for soaked-cake desserts were seen in Mexico as early as the 19th century, likely a result of the large cross-cultural transfer which took place between Europe and the Americas.[1] Nicaragua is one of the countries where tres leches cake has become popular.[2] Recipes appeared on Nestlé condensed milk can labels in the 1940s, which may explain the cake's widely disseminated popularity throughout Latin America as the company had created subsidiaries in Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela in the 1930s.[3] The cake is popular in Central and South America, North America and many parts of the Caribbean, Canary Islands, as well as in Albania, North Macedonia and some other parts of Europe.[4]


A variety of tres leches known as trileçe has recently become popular in the Balkans and Turkey. One theory is that the popularity of Brazilian soap operas in Albania led local chefs to reverse-engineer the dessert, which then spread to Turkey.[5][6] The Albanian version is sometimes made literally with three milks: cow's, goat's and water buffalo's, though more commonly a mixture of cow's milk and cream is used.[5]


  1. ^ a b Pack, MM (13 February 2004). "Got Milk? On the trail of pastel de tres leches". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  2. ^ Stradley, Linda (2015-05-05). "Tres Leches Cake History and Recipe". What's Cooking America. Retrieved 2021-03-13.
  3. ^ Nestlé S.A. Retrieved 19 February 2014
  4. ^ Higuera McMahon, Jacqueline (8 August 2007). "Tres Leches cake goes one better". SFGate. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Trileçe kazan dünya kepçe". Hürriyet. 1 March 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  6. ^ Dan Nosowitz / (November 12, 2015). "How a South American Soap Opera Created a Turkish Dessert Craze". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved November 13, 2015.