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Pastel de Tres Leches

Learn how to make Mexican Pastel Tres Leches (three milk cake). This Tres Leches uses masa harina instead of wheat flour.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Level Intermediate
Main Ingredient Dairy
Diet Gluten-Free, Pescatarian, Vegetarian


  • 3 eggs whole
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¾ cups evaporated cane sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cups harina masa
  • ¼ cups cornmeal fine ground

for tres leches syrup

  • 14 ounces condensed milk sweetened cans
  • 12 ounces milk evaporated cans
  • 1 cup cream (half and half)

for whipped cream

  • ½ heavy cream pt
  • ¼ cups evaporated cane sugar powdered
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Setup a double boiler by filling a pot large enough to hold your mixer bowl and bring the water to a simmer. Move your oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9" cake pan to prevent the finished cake from sticking.
  • Put the whole eggs, yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a metal mixer bowl and whisk to combine. Put the bowl in your double boiler and whisk, heating until the mixture reaches 100 degrees F (luke warm). Mount the bowl on the mixer and beat with the whisk attachment for at least 5 minutes. It may look ready before then, but it really needs to go this long to get enough air integrated. The volume will triple and pale yellow ribbons of egg will flow off the whisk.
  • Sift the masa harina and cornmeal into a bowl though a fine double mesh strainer. When the egg mixture is ready, add 1/3 of the flour mixture into the eggs and fold together. Repeat twice more, folding between each addition until you can't see any more clumps of flour. Since we're using corn based flours, there's no need to worry about gluten formation in the batter (which would make it tough). Be gentle while folding though as it will not rise properly if the egg mixture deflates. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a skewer comes out clean (about 20-25 minutes). Put the cake pan on a rack and allow to cool.
  • To make the tres leches syrup, just whisk the three ingredients together in a bowl. You only need half the mixture, so you can either double the batter and make 2 cakes, or you can store the extra syrup in a sealed container for the next cake you make.
  • Use a toothpick to poke holes all over the cake, this will help the cake absorb the tres leches syrup. When the cake cools to room temperature, pour half the syrup mixture over the cake, making sure to evenly saturate the edges. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • For the whipped cream, put the cream, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until you see peaks form in the cream. Spread the whipped cream evenly over the top of the cake. Slice and serve with fruit.