Desserts · Recipes

Nicaraguan Three Milk Sponge Cake

You might know this as Tres Leches
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Resting Time1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time3 hours
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Nicaraguan
Keyword: condensed milk, evaporated milk, sponge cake, whole milk


  • 1 electric mixer
  • 1 9×13 metal baking dish
  • 3 medium bowls
  • 1 small bowl
  • 1 rubber spatula
  • 1 fork


  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (1 pint or 16 fl oz)
  • 12 fl oz evaporated milk (1 can)
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk (1 can or 10 fl oz)
  • cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup more whole milk
  • 6 oz granulated sugar (about ¾ cup)
  • 2 oz more granulated sugar (about ¼ cup)
  • ¾ oz powdered sugar (about 3 tbsp)
  • 6 oz flour (about 1 cup)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1-½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp more vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon sugar (for topping)
  • strawberries (optional, as a garnish)


  • Preheat oven to 350ºF

Mix the cake (30 minutes)

  • Fetch 3 medium bowls
  • Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, putting each kind into one of the first two medium bowls
    5 large eggs
  • In the third medium bowl, put the flour, baking powder, and salt
    6 oz flour, 1-½ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt
  • Stir to combine
  • To the bowl with the egg yolks, add the 6oz sugar
    6 oz granulated sugar
  • Mix the sugar and yolks on high speed until the mixture is pale yellow
  • Add the ⅓ cup of milk and the vanilla to the mixture
    ⅓ cup whole milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Stir to combine
  • Pour the mixture into the third bowl (with the flour, baking powder, and salt mixture) and stir gently until combined, without over-mixing
  • In the second bowl, use an electric mixer on high to beat the egg whites
  • When the whites begin to stiffen into peaks, gradually mix in the 2oz of granulated sugar, as you're still mixing with the mixer
    2 oz more granulated sugar
  • Pour this mixture into the third bowl also, with the other mixture
  • Stir gently to combine, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl
  • Pour the combined mixture into the ungreased 9×13 metal pan
  • Smooth it over with a rubber spatula

Bake and soak (2 hours 5 minutes)

  • Put it in the oven and bake it for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean
  • Take it out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature (about 45 minutes)
  • With the fork, poke holes all over the top of the cake
  • In the small bowl, combine the three milks: evaporated, condensed, and whole
    12 fl oz evaporated milk, 14 oz sweetened condensed milk, ¼ cup more whole milk
  • Slowly pour this mixture over the top of the cake, making sure to pour near the edges and all around
  • Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour, to allow it to soak up the milk

Top and garnish (10 minutes)

  • With the electric mixer, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form
    2 cups heavy whipping cream, ¾ oz powdered sugar, ½ tsp more vanilla extract
  • Smooth the whipped topping over the top of the cake
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon on top
    2 tbsp cinnamon sugar
  • Serve, or store it in the fridge for up to 4 days. (It gets better after soaking up the milk in the fridge for several more hours.)
  • Optionally slice some strawberries as a garnish


Adapted from Tastes Better From Scratch.
Curious why this recipe uses weights for dry measures? See the Weights page.