The traditional tres leches cake from Latin America is delicious. It’s not overly sweet and is relatively easy to make. It’s known for its decadent flavor and light and fluffy texture. As the daughter of a Latino bakery owner, I have strong feelings about how tres leches cakes should taste. However, as someone who's lactose intolerant, I rarely get to enjoy this delicious dessert without the thought of repercussions.

But I can never seem to resist. I mean, who doesn’t love a good cake? Tres leches is a family favorite — we have it during every holiday and birthday possible.

What is a tres leches cake?

Tres leches means “three milks” in Spanish. The cake is a light sponge cake soaked in a sweet milk mixture that contains three milks (condensed, evaporated, and whole) which makes the cake moist. While the cake's popularity started in Latin America, it’s now widely available in Mexican restaurants and Latino bakeries around the world.

The cake is traditionally brimming with dairy, which adds a lot to the texture and flavor of the cake. But this vegan tres leches cake recipe from is so good I had to share it.

Where are the origins of tres leches cakes?

The origins of tres leches are debatable. No evidence confirms where it originated, however it is mainly thought to be from either Nicaragua or Mexico. It’s also believed that the cake was inspired by the 19th century recipes for antes, a sherry-soaked cake with custard fruits and nuts that was popular in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Oaxaca. These soaked cakes grew in popularity once canned milk became widely available. Canned milk was first developed in the mid-19th century and was commonly used in the military during World War II for its shelf life and easy distribution. Because of canned milk’s popularity in the 1930s, the Nestle Company opened up plants in Mexico during this time. Nestle then added a recipe for tres leches cake on the labels of evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream cans.

While the origins of the cake are debatable, there’s one thing everyone is sure about. Tres leches are mouth-watering delicious, moist cakes.

Necessary components of a tres leches cake

To make a tres leches cake, you need cake, typically a yellow cake, the three milks, whipped cream, cinnamon to sprinkle on top, and strawberries or cherries to top it off.

Tres leches cakes can have very many different variations. You can change the number of layers in the cake, it can include a filling of your choice, fruit on top, or be plain. The actual cake itself is also interchangeable; it can be chocolate, vanilla, strawberry — the options are limitless.

I find that my favorite way for this cake to be made is the traditional way. Bake it in a disposable aluminum pan with a whip cream topping and cinnamon and strawberries on top. Tradition doesn’t always have to be boring.

How to make tres leches cake vegan

I used Nora Cooks recipe for this tres leches cake, and it was amazing! This vegan tres leches is similar to a traditional one and it won’t send your body into a shock (if you’re lactose intolerant). The cake is a bit denser than a regular tres leches cake but is just as good and the sugary sweet milk mixture satisfies any sweet tooth. While eating this cake, it was hard to put my fork down. The winner of this recipe has to be the whip cream. It has a slight hint of coconut, a light texture, and the perfect amount of sweetness, tasting similar to regular whip cream. This is a definite must-try recipe.