A real berry treat! This elegant and rustic Berry Tres Leches Cake recipe is extra light, fluffy and fruity! I make this incredible berry cake with simple vanilla sponge cake layers and soak the layers with a three-milk mixture. The cake is frosted with a delicate mascarpone whipped cream frosting and filled with loads of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries! Decorated and assembled in a rustic, open fashion, this berry cake is perfect for any occasion! Plus, it’s very simple and easy to make!
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What is Tres Leches Cake?
This stunning and elegant cake is called ‘tres leches’, which translates to ‘three milks’. Spongy cake layers are soaked with a combination of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk. The whole milk can be replaced with cream for an even richer tasting cake. This cake recipe most likely originated somewhere in Central America in the late 1800’s and became very popular in Mexico in the 19th century. The Nestle brand even printed a recipe for this cake on cans of evaporated milk during WWII! It’s still very popular to this day, especially in Central and Southern America, but also in the Caribbean Islands and in the United States.
Simple Vanilla Sponge Cake
The best type of cake for this Berry Tres Leches cake is sponge cake. Sponge cakes are dry and spongy and absorb and hold any liquids very well. My ‘Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe’ is perfect for just this occasion! I have a separate, in-depth tutorial for this recipe if you want more details about how to make the perfect sponge cake.
The most important step to making a sponge cake is whisking the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thick, pale and extra fluffy. Sponge cakes get all their volume from the eggs so it’s important to get the mixture to the right consistency. When adding the flour, incorporate it slowly and gently, folding from the bottom of the mixing bowl. Once you have the cake layers baked, allow them to cool completely before assembling the cake. You can also make the sponge cake ahead of time, cool it, wrap it well and store at room temperature for 1 day.
Tres Leches Mixture
If you love a delicate and moist cake, you’re going to love this Berry Tres Leches Cake! Each sponge cake is soaked generously with a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk. You can also replace the whole milk with cream for a richer tasting cake. Typically, this mixture is made with equal amounts of each milk, but I personally love the flavor of sweetened condensed milk so I add two times more of it.
I recommend soaking each sponge cake layer as you’re assembling the cake. Once the cake layers are soaked, they become more fragile and a little trickier to transfer. I like to use a spoon to gently pour the milk mixture over each layer. You can go over the layer a couple of times to make sure it’s very well soaked. Just be careful and don’t oversoak the layers! You don’t want the milk to pour down the sides of the cake either!
Mascarpone Whipped Cream
When I was developing this recipe, I wanted to use a delicate, light and fluffy frosting to complement the delicate cake layers. Mascarpone whipped cream frosting is the most perfect addition to this Berry Tres Leches Cake! This frosting is made with softened mascarpone, vanilla extract, confectioner’s sugar and heavy cream. And, if I have any sweetened condensed milk left over, I like to add that in, too.
This frosting is super easy to make! First, I beat the cheese, sugar and vanilla together until the cheese is smooth and creamy. This is very important if you want a smooth and clump free frosting. Next, I just pour in the heavy cream and whisk until stiff peaks form. I typically make this frosting while my cake layers are baking and cooling and keep it in the refrigerator until I’m ready to use it.
Assembling a Tres Leches Cake
My favorite part of any cake making process – assembling the cake! This Berry Tres Leches Cake is so easy to put together. For my video recipe, I went with a rustic, open style cake – one without frosting on the sides. Here’s how I put it together:
- Prepare the Sponge Cake: first, make sure the sponge cake layers are completely cooled, then use a long, serrated knife to split each layer in half.
- Add the Milk Mixture: assemble the cake on a cake stand and soak each layer with the tres leches mixture as you assemble the cake.
- Add the Frosting: spread a generous amount of frosting onto each layer and use an off-set spatula to spread it evenly.
- Add the Berries: I love to use a combination of berries for this cake: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.
- Refrigerate: let the cake set in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 hours, then enjoy. You can also make it a day ahead of time.
How to Store the Cake
Once you have this stunning berry cake assembled, I recommend refrigerating it for at least 2 to 3 hours to allow the frosting to set. You can also make this cake a day ahead of time and keep it stored in the refrigerator. This cake will soften fairly quickly, so remove it from the fridge about 30 to 45 minutes before enjoying.
Want to make this cake ahead of time? Because the sides of this rustic cake can dry out easily, I recommend keeping the cake wrapped with plastic wrap. Alternatively, you can make 1 ½ portions of the mascarpone whipped cream frosting and frost the sides of the cake as well.
Enjoyed this delicious berry cake? Check out some of my other recipes you’re sure to enjoy!
- Coffee Tres Leches Cake – a delicious combination of coffee and tres leches, with coffee sponge cake and coffee whipped cream!
- Berry Tres Leches Parfaits – super easy, no-bake dessert cups with cake cubes, tres leches and berries!
- Mixed Berry Pie – the best fruit pie with blueberries, blackberries and raspberries! Perfect for summer!
- Maple Berry Cake – this stunning berry cake is sweetened only with maple syrup, including the mascarpone frosting!
- Berry Lemon Pavlova – Pure elegance! A classic pavlova recipe, topped with lemon curd, berries and whipped cream!
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Need some supplies to make this recipe? You can get them here (Amazon affiliate links):
- Ateco Turn Table – this cake decorating stand is a must for any cake baker!
- KitchenAid Hand Mixer – I love this handy mixer for smaller baking jobs.
- KitchenAid Copper Stand Mixer – this mixer is only sold at Williams Sonoma and is typically out of stock. It’s worth the wait!
- Small Off-Set Spatulas – I love this spatula so much, I have 3! They’re very handy for cake decorating.
- Vanilla Extract – a good quality vanilla can make any cake pop! This is a really great brand to try.
Berry Tres Leches Cake Recipe (video)
For Sponge Cake:
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
For Mascarpone Frosting:
- 16 oz mascarpone cheese, softened at room temp
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk, optional
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
For Tres Leches:
- 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- ½ cup whole milk
- 6 cups berries, for filling and garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350F/177C. Line two, 8-inch (20-cm) cake pans with parchment paper and leave the sides ungreased.
- Prepare the sponge cake first. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla into a stand mixer bowl and whisk on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes, until the eggs are fluffy, voluminous and pale white in color. If using a hand mixer, this process will take up to 15 minutes. Combine the flour and baking powder, then sift into the egg mixture in thirds. Fold gently but thoroughly after each addition, mixing from the bottom of the mixing bowl.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the two pans and level the batter with an off-set spatula. Bake the cake layers for 20 to 22 minutes, until they’re a rich, golden color on top. Remove them immediately from the oven and run a knife or spatula along the edge of the pan to release the cake from the pan. Invert the cake layers onto a cooling rack, remove the parchment paper and then cool completely.
- While the cake layers are cooling, prepare the mascarpone frosting. Place the softened cheese into a large mixing bowl, add the vanilla, optional sweetened condensed milk and confectioner’s sugar. Beat on medium speed for a couple minutes, until the cheese is smooth and creamy.
- Next, pour in the chilled heavy cream and whisk on slow speed first, then gradually move to high speed. Whisk for 3 to 4 minutes, until the frosting forms stiff peaks. If not assembling the cake right away, keep the frosting refrigerated.
- For the tres leches mixture, combine the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk in a large measuring cup. Whisk the milks together until uniform, about 1 minute.
- Wash the berries and dry them on paper towels. Slice the strawberries into thin slices and cut blackberries in half if they’re too large.
- To assemble the cake, first ensure that the cake layers are completely cooled. Using a long, serrated knife, split each cake layer in half, creating 4 cake layers total. Place the first cake layer onto a cake stand and soak it generously with the prepared tres leches mixture using a spoon. Watch my video recipe to see how it’s done.
- Next, add a generous amount of the prepared frosting (app. 1 ½ cups) onto the cake layer and spread it evenly to the edges with an off-set spatula. Top the frosting with mixed berries, pressing them very lightly into the frosting. Add the next cake layer and repeat the same process.
- For the final cake layer, first soak the sponge cake with the tres leches mixture, then invert the cake layer onto the top. Add the remaining frosting on top and garnish with more berries and flowers, if desired.
- Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 to 3 hours before enjoying. If making ahead of time, keep the sides of the cake wrapped with plastic wrap. Alternatively, prepare 1 ½ portions of the frosting recipe and frost the sides of the cake as well. This is a great option if you need the cake to stand for a couple days.