Cinco Leches Cake For Cinco De Mayo with whole milk, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, half and half, and whipping cream, the ultimate milk sponge cake!
Cinco De Mayo
While the celebration of Cinco De Mayo belongs to Mexicans alone, Cinco Leches Cake, sometimes called Tres Leches Cake, does not.
Certainly, every proud Mexican that celebrates this incredible victory from France, with half the size an army as France, deserves a Cake.
The irony in this, is that the making of this special South American cake, from the various rich milks and creams , is often known as French cooking!
Leche and South America
The Nestle company, played a big part in this multi-South American cake.
Being a Swiss company, during war times, times of crisis, and creating convenience for consumers, brought a milk product to South American countries.
Homes that may not have had refrigeration, could have plenty of milk products, because of Nestle.
So I am making this amazing cake, for the first time, for Cinco de Mayo!
A Cake For Cinco De Mayo
As Cinco de Mayo fast approached, soon after spring arrived, I wanted to make something special, even though I am not Mexican.
However my dear friend, co-contestant and winner of The Great American Recipe on PBS, is Mexican!
For the finale of the show, we competed in, my plan was for a Fig Finale, however, Silvia Martinez made her Tres Leches Cake and Won!
During all the excitement of her win, 20-days on set filming the show, lots of tears and laughter and hugs, I didn’t get the chance to indulge in her cake.
So, I decided Cinco de Mayo was the perfect day for me to make her fabulous, winning cake!
Who Does Tres Leches of Cinco Leches Cake Belong To?
The answer to that, could start a war (lol), but in truth most every South American country claims it as their own.
I first had Tres Leches Cake at the home of my Cuban boyfriend, when I was in my twenties.
Fast forward to my ‘empty nest’ years, when I moved to Brazil, for several years, I had it there too.
And so, pulling out The Great American Cookbook, in search of Silvia’s recipe, I made a few tweaks, based on the Brazilian techniques I learned, and made this amazing cake.
So What Is It – Cinco Milks Or Tres Milks – 5 Or 3?
Well, let’s flush this confusion out just a bit.
In the sponge of the cake, goes a little whole milk in the batter, with lots of eggs, which I whip separately to create an airy batter.
Then, in the preparation of the milk, that gets poured on top of the baked cake to soak in overnight, is sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and half and half.
It is here, I believe, in the creation of this ‘soaking’ milk, that the name was given to the cake.
Once all that soaking takes place overnight, whipped cream with a dusting of sugar in the cream, becomes the clouds that finish the cake.
Sometimes, folks will whisk together an Italian meringue for the top of the cake, but the whipped cream is a totally decadent finish.
Besides… let’s not bring the Italians into this cake too!
So why not wrap this recipe up using 5-different aspects of milk!
Tricky Aspects To Making Cinco Leches Cake
It was my intention to make this cake into two layers, as Silvia did, though most folks do only one layer in a sheet pan.
I loved the way Silvia’s cake looked, stacked and elegant, so I opted to do two layers.
Can you believe I only have round cake pans the same size, and not square.
Note to self, ‘buy two square cake pans’ for next time.
Why? Lining round cake pans with parchment paper was like putting a square peg in a round hole.
Not the way to go.
But I managed.
Baking two layers for a cake does not take long.
In fact, in about 15-minutes the cakes were done baking.
Now It’s Time For Tres Leches
The three milks (reminded me of the three tenors, each bringing their own beauty, lol), were whisked together, room temperature and ready to pour over the warm cakes.
I poured gently, while brushing the milk across the tops, and realized I have forgotten something.
Poking the tops with a toothpick, making tiny holes in the cakes, gave the milk someplace to go.
So, I quick poked and poured.
Cinco De Mayo Celebration Cake
It’s time to put all the aspects of this luscious cake together.
While I have a repertoire of Mediterranean influenced cakes, and a few of whimsy (my Tea and Toast Cake) in my back pocket, I was feeling unsure about the cakes coming out of the pan.
Perhaps, that is why most folks make only one layer and serve it out of the sheet pan.
Nope, I wanted a double decker, so showtime had arrived.
Whew! The parchment paper was a life saver in getting those cakes out of the pan.
They had become dense and heavy with luscious milks.
This final touch would simply be stacking the layers with whipped cream and strawberries, and more whipped cream on top with more strawberries.
What a Fabulous Cake!
Makes my strawberry shortcakes look easy and a bit healthier.
- Baking pans – 2 if layered, otherwise 1 sheet pan
- Parchment paper
- 4 Mixing bowls
- Electric mixer
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Toothpick or skewer
- Baking powder
- Whole milk
- Evaporated milk
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Half and half
- Heavy whipping cream
- Powdered sugar
Cinco Leches Cake For Cinco De Mayo
- Baking pans
- 4 Mixing bowls
- Parchment paper
- Electric mixer
- 1 tbsp Butter to grease pans
- 6 Eggs separated, room temperature
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- 2 cups Flour sifted
- 1 tbsp Baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup Whole milk
- 1 tsp Bourbon vanilla
- 2/3 cup Evaporated milk
- 2/3 cup Sweetened condensed milk
- 2/3 cup Half and half
- 3 cups Heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup Powdered sugar
- 2 cups Strawberries sliced thin
- Preheat oven to 350
- Lightly grease the baking pan, whether one sheet pan or two pans. Then line the pan/pans with parchment paper. Then grease the parchment paper, for good measure.
- Whip the egg whites in a medium size mixing bowl, with an electric or hand mixer, until firm peaks form. Set aside
- Combine the sifted flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
- Whip the egg yolks and sugar in a separate large mixing bowl. Pour in the vanilla while whisking and slowly sprinkle in a little of the flour mixture, alternating with the milk until both are incorporated in. Fold in the whipped egg whites. Transfer the batter to the prepares baking pans.
- Bake until the top of the cake forms the appearance of cooked bubbles, and is firm to the touch, about 15-minutes.
- Combine Milks while the cake is baking; evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and half and half. Whisk until creamy and set aside.
- Poke wholes in the cake as soon as you pull it out of the oven, with a toothpick or skewer. Slowly pour the 3-milk mixture over the top of the baked cakes. Pour and wait, and then pour a small amount at a time, lightly brushing the milk into the small holes of the cake/cakes. Place the cakes in the fridge for at least 3-hours or overnight.
- Whip heavy cream until it begins to thicken and gradually add the powdered sugar, whipping until firm peaks form. Cover and place in the fridge along with the cakes, overnight.
- Assemble the cakes by gently lifting one at a time, from the pan and onto the serving plate. Spread the whipped cream on the first layer, followed by slices of strawberry, or other fruits of your choice. Gently place the second layer on top and repeat with the whipped cream and placement of strawberries, or other fruit.
- Store this cake in the fridge until ready to serve and then quickly return the cake to the fridge to keep freshly chilled.
Such a pretty layered cake and absolutely perfect for the whole spring season, Robin.