|Alternative names||Torta de tres leches,|
Ponque de tres leches (Colombia),
bizcocho de tres leches,
pastel de tres leches
|Type||Sponge cake (or butter cake)|
|Main ingredients||Cake base; evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream|
A tres leches cake (translation: three milks cake) (Spanish: pastel de tres leches, torta de tres leches or bizcocho de tres leches) is a sponge cake—in some recipes, a butter cake—soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.
When butter is not used, the tres leches cake is very light with many air bubbles. This distinct texture is why it does not have a soggy consistency, despite being soaked in a mixture of three types of milk.
The idea for creating a cake soaked in a liquid is likely of Medieval European origin, as similar cakes, such as British trifle and rum cake, and tiramisu from Italy, use this method. Recipes for soaked-cake desserts were seen in Mexico as early as the 19th century, and Patricia Quintana, a recognized international cook and expert in Mexican gastronomy, believes it came from Sinaloa, Mexico.
Recipes appeared on Nestlé condensed milk can labels in the 1930s or 1960s (historians disagree and have evidence for both). Nevertheless, that may explain the cake's widely disseminated popularity throughout Latin America as the company had created subsidiaries in Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela. The cake is popular in Central and South America, North America and many parts of the Caribbean, Canary Islands, as well as in Albania, the Republic of Macedonia and some other parts of Europe. In Puerto Rico, tres leches cake is topped with whipped cream and sometimes also drenched with rum or coffee.
A variety of tres leches known as trileçe has recently become popular in Turkey. One theory is that the popularity of Brazilian soap operas in Albania led local chefs to reverse-engineer the dessert, which then spread to Turkey. It was later popularized by the then Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano, who was spotted eating the dessert on the Bosphorus Bridge. The Albanian/Turkish version is sometimes made literally with three milks: cow's, goat's and water buffalo's, though more commonly a mixture of cow's milk and cream is used.