The classic three-milk cake gets an upgrade with this Coffee Tres Leches Cake recipe I’m sharing today. Glorious from top to bottom!
I’ve been excited to share this Coffee Tres Leches Cake recipe for a while now, but between the burnout I had to conquer and issues with my Internet, I decided to push it back and push it back… Until weeks turned into months! I finally sat down and edited the video of my making this though, and while it’s not one of my best videos for sure, my excitement won over.
If you want to skip all my blabber and go right to the recipe, scroll to the ‘Recipe notes’ section where the video is too. Otherwise, I’ll tell you a little more about how this Coffee Tres Leches Cake came to be.
My first Tres Leches Cake wasn’t particularly mind-blowing, so I had this idea of trying to make it again, but this time I wanted to make a flavored Tres Leches Cake. I had two flavors I was choosing from, but I decided to make this one first since ya’ll know I love coffee. When I checked the Internet, I couldn’t find one specific recipe that really called out to me, so I decided to mix and match a couple of recipes.
It took some time, but I somehow found a combination of components from different sources that felt right together. And like magic, this Coffee Tres Leches Cake turned out to be so much better than I imagined!
Let’s start with the cake base from Honestly Yum, because it is the star of this recipe, truly. It was so light and fluffy it was like a sponge that soaked in the three-kinds-of-milk-plus-coffee solution that I poured in. It held the liquid inside its crumb, releasing this coffee-tinged milky explosion every time you bite into the cake.
The literal icing on top that made this cake even better was the Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting from Tatyana’s Everyday Food. It added that savory tang that only a cream cheese frosting can, and somehow that helped to round out this Coffee Tres Leches Cake. All the components together helped turn this into a cake that packs a wallop despite how simple it looks.
Perhaps the biggest tip I can give you for this particular recipe is to allow the cake to soak overnight rather than the minimum of 3 hours. It really gives the cake some time to set and trap all the glorious liquid inside. That’s the entire point of a Tres Leches Cake anyway.
While all the components of this cake are fairly simple to make, I do want to give a gentle reminder that it’s imperative that your cake batter is nice and airy before you pour it into the pan for baking. Make sure to properly beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then avoid overmixing them into your egg yolk-based batter so that the batter stays aerated. You want a fluffy cake here that can suck in all the coffee-milk soak.
Also, I highly recommend using strong brewed coffee for the soak. If you want that coffee taste to shine through more than the milk, find yourself a good strong, dark brew. Check out the video below to see how to make this cake!
If you want a thick layer of frosting on top of your cake, I suppose you can add another half recipe of the frosting to the original measurements. For me, this is just the right amount so as not to overpower the rest of the cake. This Coffee Tres Leches Cake is such a glorious play of textures in the mouth. Somehow the fluffy but also “juicy” cake that explodes as you chew goes so well with that equally fluffy but also creamy coffee cream cheese frosting.
As for the taste, all I can say is, THIS THING IS REAL GOOD. Trust me!
Coffee Tres Leches Cake
Makes one 9x13-inch cake
For the Sponge Cake
- 2¼ cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1¼ cups + ¼ cup sugar, divided use
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 7 large eggs, separated
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cups water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoons cream of tartar or lemon juice, optional
For the Coffee-Milk Soak
- 1 14- ounce 400 grams can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 12- fluid ounce 355 mL can evaporated milk
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup very strong brewed coffee or espresso
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
For the Coffee-Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 8- ounce bar, 227 grams cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- ½ cup white granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon instant coffee powder or espresso powder
- 2 Tablespoons boiling water
- 2 cups 473 mL cold heavy cream
Make the cake
- 1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease a 9x13-inch cake pan with butter and evenly coat with flour, making sure to tap out the excess flour.
- 2. In a medium bowl, place the egg yolks. Add the oil, water, and vanilla. Whisk until well-combined.
- 3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the first 1¼ cups sugar and salt. Whisk to combine.
- 4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg yolk mixture. Mix quickly but thoroughly, about 1 minute, until just smooth.
- 5. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy. (Using an electric mixer or stand mixer here will make things easier and quicker.) Add in the cream of tartar or lemon juice, if using, then beat on medium high until soft peaks start to form.
- 6. Continuing to beat the egg whites, slowly add in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Beat until the whites become shiny and hold stiff peaks. Do not overmix at this stage!
- 7. Using a rubber spatula, fold in 1/3 of the whites at normal speed to lighten the batter. Gently fold in the remaining whites until just combined and the batter is aerated. Be careful not to overwork the batter or else you might deflate it.
- 8. Pour batter into prepared pan, tilting the pan around until the batter evens out. Bake about 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for a moment while you prepare the coffee-milk soak.
Make the soak
- 9. In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the soak.
- 10. Once the cake has cooled for at least 5 minutes, take a toothpick or skewer and poke as many holes as you can all over the cake, down to the bottom. Pour the coffee-milk soak over the warm cake gradually, as the cake will absorb the soak slowly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
Make the frosting
- 11. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy. In a small glass, dissolve the coffee powder in the boiling water, then pour into the cream cheese mixture. Beat everything together until completely smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- 12. Pour in the cold heavy cream and continue to whisk until the frosting is fluffy and is able to somewhat hold its shape. Spread the frosting all over the soaked cake. Serve immediately or refrigerate another 30 minutes before serving.