The Strangest Cake I’ve Made to Date: Bolo Tres Leches

‘Tres Leches’ means three milks and that is what this cake is all about. Its very popular in South America so I am told, I was asked to make one and given this recipe from Danielle’s Brazilian blog which I didn’t do justice too at all. Nevertheless it was delicious!


I wont lie, I was very skeptical about this cake. I mean, its essentially a sponge soaked in milk. Whats so special about that? Why would you want to even eat soaked milky sponge?!

Well. Let me stop you there.

We’re not talking any milk here. This is a mixture of full fat milk, double cream and condensed milk.
Do I have your attention now?

And if like me your thinking ‘yeah, but its still a soggy sponge’. All I can say is it wasn’t. It was delicious, spongey, sticky, creamy goodness. That could probably kill you if you ate too much. But we wont talk any more about that side of things 😉

Bring on the guilt free cake! *cough*

So like I said, I didn’t do justice to Danielle’s recipe, her cake looks beautifully tall and light. Mine wasn’t at all. There are a couple of reasons why, the main ones being the recipe doesn’t specify the tin size, I hate cup measurements, we don’t get along at all (who knew Brazil used cups too? Or xícaras in their case.) and I misread the recipe. Taking all these things into consideration, its pretty amazing there was a serve-able cake, let alone a delicious one! This is a cake that is definitely verging on being a dessert.

The big issue came when instead of adding one cup of sugar to the four eggs, I added one and a half – the flour measurement. By the time I realised it was too late to scoop any out! ‘Its fine!’ I thought, ‘I’ll just add another half of the amount of all the other ingredients, it will be a bigger cake, we will all be happy!’. Great plan, my bad maths aside.
Except I only had five eggs in total, I would have needed six.
I could have just stuck with the rest of the recipe and had a very, very sweet cake but I decided that I may as well bulk it out a bit and add the fifth egg to the mix. Seeing as this equals an extra quarter of the recipe in egg, I figured I could add an extra quarter of all the other ingredients. You can see where the room for total and utter mess up is, right?

Anyway, I persevered and poured the mixture into a big tray we use for giant swiss rolls and flap jacks – its about 35×25. I would use a much smaller one next time! Maybe even 20×20 square cake tin… Like I said, the original recipe doesn’t specify.

The cake came out and sunk a bit 😦 I cut it into squares like Danielle suggests and made up my milk mixture. I didn’t expect there to be much and had to keep up sizing my bowl as you can see.


Here’s the sponge turned upside down and cut into squares, this allows the milk to soak into the sponge better.


I didn’t pour all of the milk mixture on, it just looked like so much. I covered the cake and then put the rest in a jug for people to help themselves to.


The sponge didn’t soak up as much as you would have thought, then again, my sponge came out a bit too dense. I think it should have been much more like a genoise then it would have been higher and airier. After being in the fridge the milk mixture thickens and kind of combines with the cake into delicious melt in the mouth moist sticky slices that are very hard to resist!


translated from Brazilian portuguese
When I make this again I will work out the measurements in grams, but for now we will stick with the original cups I’m afraid!

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup full fat milk

Milk mixture:

1 tin of condensed milk
double cream measured in same tin
Full fat milk measured in same tin

Preheat your oven to 220c.
Grease and flour the tin.
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and put to one side.
Separately beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla together until its thick, pale and creamy.
Reduce the beating speed to low and trickle in the milk very slowly.
Next add the flour a bit at a time and beat until all the ingredients are combined. (next time I think I will fold in the flour instead of using the electric beater)
Pour the mix into the tin and smooth. Bake for 25-30mins.

Once done cool for 20mins (I cooled mine obpvernight! I wonder if that stopped it soaking so much…?).
Make the milk mix by simply mixing them all together.
Prick the cake all over with a fork and slice it into squares, pour over the milk mixture.
Cover with tin foil and put it in the fridge until nice and cold.

Danielle suggests serving with ice cream and fresh fruits like starwberries, kiwis and apricots.
I would love to hear how anyone else has got along with making a bolo três leches! I must try again soon!



Final photos courtesy of Jake Martin Graves


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