A Spanish favorite, this sponge cake is doused in three types of milk, giving it a rich, pudding-like texture.

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking pan. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine egg whites, baking soda, and salt, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.

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  • Add yolks to the whites, and beat until completely combined. With the mixer running slowly, add sugar until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a rubber spatula, fold in butter.

  • Sift 1/4 cup flour on top of the mixture, and fold in to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour, folding in 1/4 cup at a time. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake until golden and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to a wire rack.

  • About 5 minutes before the cake is done, whisk together the three milks, and set aside. As soon as the cake is removed from the oven, pour the milk mixture over the entire cake. The cake should absorb all the liquid within 3 to 5 minutes. Set cake aside, and let stand until cool. Cover cake well, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill, at least 5 hours or overnight.

  • Before serving, heat oven to 450 degrees. Place whole coconut in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and using an awl or a screwdriver, pierce the three "eyes" of the coconut. Turn over, and drain the liquid. Using a hammer, break open coconut. To remove the meat from the shell, insert a small spatula or a grapefruit knife between the flesh and the shell to pry the meat out in large pieces. Using a vegetable peeler, shave off thin curls of coconut. Transfer curls to a baking sheet, and let stand uncovered for 30 minutes. Place in oven, and bake until edges are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside until cool. These curls can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen for future use.

  • When ready to serve the cake, whip cream to soft peaks. Slice cake into twelve servings, top with whipped cream, and serve with the fruits and toasted coconut curls.

Cook's Notes

The most time-consuming step is making the coconut curls; in a pinch you can use store-bought shaved coconut.

Reviews (9)

20 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 3
  • 4 star values: 9
  • 3 star values: 7
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5.0 stars
01/09/2020
Excellent recipe! I skip the coconut and heavy cream.
Rating: 5 stars
10/08/2013
My husband adores this cake.
Rating: Unrated
08/02/2010
This cake is terrific for a summertime dessert. I get many requests to make it for family get-togethers. Tip; use packaged, shredded coconut and toast it. No difference in taste compared to labor-intensive doing the coconut from scratch. Also two cups of heavy cream is too much. Use one cup whipped for topping. Make sure you let melted butter cool before adding to eggs.
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Rating: Unrated
05/05/2010
After tasting straight out of the oven, it did taste very eggy, so I was worried, but after soaking up the milk and a little refridgeration, it was delicious!
Rating: Unrated
04/30/2010
3. you will know if the cake is a sucess when you add the milk. the cake should immediately absorb all of the milk(which equals about 4 cups) 4. traditionally this cake is served room temp. pull it out of the fridge at least an hour prior to serving. this step really enhances the flavor and texture of the cake
Rating: Unrated
04/30/2010
i've used this recipe about 6 or 7 times and it works great. i plan on making it for cinco de mayo this wednesday. a few tips for people having trouble with the recipe or method 1. you need to have all ingredients for the batter prepared and ready for mixing before you even start the process 2. GENTLY fold the flour mix into the batter 1/4 CUP AT A TIME. if you add too much flour the batter will fall and the cake WILL NOT rise in the oven
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Rating: Unrated
01/04/2010
excellent cake but just need some help crossing the finishing line...close to perfection but requires a finishing touch. once the cake is done, pour one can sweetened condensed milk over the top. NOW taste absolute perfection.
Rating: Unrated
06/25/2008
This is literally the most delicious cake I have ever eaten. I found this recipe in the magazine a few years ago and loved it! I lost the recipe and have been looking for it ever since! I found it today and I am gonna make it right now! It is moist and delicious, and has almost a pudding like quality. It is very rich. You must try it at least once!
Rating: Unrated
03/20/2008
I thought this was awful. The cake came out eggy and greasy. While making I thought that something was not right. It went from the oven to the garbage. Also the milk amounts seemed way too much. I'm going to try the other tres leches cake with, hopefully, better results!
Rating: Unrated
12/12/2007
this is a fabulous cake. If you absolutely must- it works well with a quality white cake mix, too.