baileys tres leches cake

Baileys Tres Leches Cake

Baileys tres leches cake is a boozy, Irish twist on tres leches cake, a classic Latin American dessert! This recipe starts with a light and airy Genoise sponge cake. I then instruct you to pour a combination of three different types of milk—sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, AND Baileys Irish Cream—over the cake. Overnight, the cake soaks up the three milks, becoming super moist and flavorful. To top it all off, we make homemade whipped cream and garnish the cake with cocoa and espresso powder.

What does Baileys tres leches cake taste like?

Baileys tres leches cake tastes like classic tres leches cake—that is, vanilla with the milky, slightly caramelized flavors of evaporated and sweetened condensed milks—but with a boozy kick. The boozy kick comes from the Baileys Irish Cream in the tres leches soak. It gives this tres leches cake subtle cocoa, coffee, and whiskey flavors!

What is Tres Leches Cake?

Okay, but hold the phone: what even is tres leches cake, anyway?

Tres leches cake is a super moist sponge cake soaked in a mixture of three different types of milks. Its Spanish name translates to “three milks” in English. The milks vary from recipe to recipe, but most recipes typically use a combination of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and either fresh milk or heavy cream. Most recipes instruct you to soak a sponge cake with the three milks, then top the cake with whipped cream for serving.

But wouldn’t all that milk make the tres leches cake soggy?

You’d think that all that milk in the recipe would lead to a dense, mushy cake. But when done right, the combination of the three milks create the right amount of sweetness and texture for a rich, moist, but still surprisingly light cake. 

Truthfully, it all comes down to the cake base. According to my research, most tres leches cake recipes have little to no fat in the cake base. Having little to no fat in the cake base allows the cake to absorb the milks without getting too heavy and soggy.

Where is Tres Leches Cake From?

Although folks typically associate tres leches cake with Latin American countries, according to Wikipedia, the idea of a “soaked cake” is actually Medieval European in origin! Think: British trifles and rum cake, Italian tiramisu, and more. That being said, soaked-cake desserts appeared in Mexico as early as the 19th century. Patricia Quintana, an acclaimed Mexican chef and gastronomy expert, specifically states that tres leches cake came from Sinaloa, Mexico.

However, other Central and South American countries also claim tres leches cake as their own. This Food52 article talks about the cake’s popularity and extensive history in Nicaragua. The cake also is popular in the Caribbean and Canary Islands. There doesn’t seem to be a clear and definitively right answer about tres leches cake’s origins.

That being said, many food historians credit tres leches cake’s ubiquity to Nestle. Tres leches cake recipes began to appear on Nestle sweetened condensed milk cans in the 1930s and/or 1960s. These canned milk products were especially popular during the first and second world wars. In fact, they were so popular that Nestle opened production factories in places like Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela. These are also the countries where tres leches cake remains popular to this very day.

baileys tres leches cake unsliced

Why You Should Make Baileys Tres Leches Cake

Here are all the reasons to make this Baileys tres leches cake:

This Baileys tres leches cake is a fun, new take on a classic tres leches recipe.

I’m always looking for ways to take classic recipes and make them my own! This Baileys tres leches cake is based on a classic tres leches cake recipe by my friend Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen. However, it also incorporates new flavors like Baileys Irish Cream, cocoa, and espresso.

This Baileys tres leches cake recipe fits into your schedule.

Several of the cake’s components can be made ahead of serving. In fact, I like to make and soak the cake a few days before serving! In fact, doing so makes it better since it allows the cake to absorb the flavors more fully! Check out the section below on how to make this Baileys tres leches cake recipe fit your schedule.

This Baileys tres leches cake stores well and gets more flavorful with time.

Unlike other sheet cakes, this Baileys tres leches cake doesn’t go stale quickly. In fact, it gets better with time as it cake absorbs more of the tres leches soak! It becomes more flavorful and stays moist without getting soggy.

hands presenting baileys tres leches cake

Baileys Tres Leches Cake Ingredients and Substitutions

Now that I’ve convinced you to make this Baileys tres leches cake, here’s your shopping list for the recipe:

Shopping List for Baileys Tres Leches Cake

  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • kosher salt
  • whole milk
  • pure vanilla extract
  • large eggs
  • granulated sugar
  • sweetened condensed milk
  • evaporated milk
  • Baileys Irish Cream
  • heavy cream
  • confectioners’ sugar

And let’s talk about the recipe’s key ingredients and some of their potential substitutions:

All-Purpose Flour

You need 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour to make Baileys tres leches cake.

Does a 1-1 gluten-free all-purpose flour work in this Baileys tres leches cake recipe?

I’m sorry, but I don’t know. I rarely bake with those types of flour replacements because they’re expensive and my household is fortunate not to have any gluten restrictions. However, if you replace the flour in this Baileys tres leches recipe with any gluten-free alternatives, please leave a comment so I can update this post accordingly!

That being said, if you’ve made a genoise sponge cake with 1-1 gluten-free all-purpose flour replacer before and were happy with the results, go for it. Why? This Baileys tres leches cake uses a pretty standard genoise sponge cake recipe for its base. If it worked for you before, it’ll work here too!

Kosher Salt

You need ½ teaspoon kosher salt to make Baileys tres leches cake.

Why You Should Use Kosher Salt When Baking

I like to use kosher salt (as opposed to table salt) when baking. Its larger crystals make it difficult to confuse with granulated sugar. However, not all kosher salts are created equal. Some kosher salts have smaller granules than others, which will result in saltier tasting baked goods.

For consistency, I recommend sticking to one brand, and one brand only: Diamond Crystal kosher salt. It’s the only brand of salt I use when I develop recipes for Hummingbird High. Why? Diamond Crystal kosher salt is one of the few 100% pure salts in the grocery store. Other brands have additives that can add unexpected flavors to your desserts.

I can’t find Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Is Morton’s Coarse kosher salt okay?

Yes, with reservations. Morton’s Coarse kosher salt granules are much smaller, denser, and crunchier than Diamond Crystal. According to this Food52 article, the Diamond Crystal and Morton’s use different processes to make their salts, resulting in different shapes and sizes. Morton’s is made by flattening salt granules into large thin flakes by pressing them through high-pressure rollers, whereas Diamond Crystal is formed by a patented method in which “upside-down pyramids [are] stacked one over the next to form a crystal.” You can even see a visualization of the different sizes in this Cook’s Illustrated article.

Okay, but what does that mean, exactly? 1 teaspoon of Morton’s will taste saltier than 1 teaspoon of Diamond Crystal. Wild, right? So if you follow my recipes exactly as they are written but use Morton’s instead of Diamond Crystal, the results will come out saltier. In fact, sometimes they will come out TOO salty. So if you’re using Morton’s instead of Diamond Crystal, reduce the salt in the recipe by half.

Want to learn more about Diamond Crystal versus Morton’s Coarse kosher salt? Definitely check out the Food52 and Cook’s Illustrated articles I linked to above, as well as this Taste article.

I can’t find Diamond Crystal OR Morton’s Coarse kosher salt. Can I just use table salt?

Yes, with reservations. If you use table salt, you’ll need to reduce the recipe’s salt quantity by half.

If you read my little essay about Diamond Crystal and Morton’s, you learned that Diamond Crystal kosher salt granules are larger than Morton’s kosher salt granules. The same principle applies to table salt versus kosher salt. Table salt granules are much smaller than kosher salt granules. As a result, 1 teaspoon of table salt tastes much saltier than 1 teaspoon of kosher salt… simply because it can hold more granules! Wild, right?

So if you follow my recipes exactly as they are written but use table salt instead of kosher salt, the results will come out saltier. If you’re using table salt instead of kosher salt, I recommend reducing the salt in the recipe by half.

Whole Milk

You need ½ cup whole milk to make Baileys tres leches cake.

Can I use heavy cream instead?

Yes! Tres leches cake recipes vary regionally. Some regions use whole milk in their tres leches cakes; others heavy cream. I used whole milk because it’s what my friend Adrianna recommended in her tres leches cake recipe. She says it makes for a lighter, airier cake. However, many Central American recipes call for heavy cream. If that’s what you prefer, feel free to use it instead of whole milk!

Can I use nonfat or low-fat/skim milk instead?

In theory, yes. But low- and nonfat milks will lead to a less flavorful Baileys tres leches cake.

Can I use an alternative, plant-based milk like almond, coconut, oat, or soy milk instead?

In theory, yes. But keep in mind that, similar to using nonfat or low-fat/skim milks, alternative plant based milks could potentially lead to a less flavorful Baileys tres leches cake. Alternatively, if you use an alternative milk with a strong flavor (like coconut or oat milk), those flavors will potentially be present in the Baileys tres leches cake too. So pick something that works well with Baileys Irish Cream! I personally think that oat milk would work best.

Large Eggs

You need 6 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks, to make Baileys tres leches cake.

This Baileys tres leches cake uses a whopping total of SIX eggs in the recipe. Why so many eggs? I mentioned earlier that tres leches cake bases are often fat-free (that is, no butter or oil is used in the recipe). This quality enables them to absorb the tres leches mixture without getting soggy. Bakers use butter in cakes to create a light and airy texture by creaming the butter with sugar to create air bubbles in the butter. During the baking process, those air bubbles become suspended in the batter to create the cake’s crumb and texture.

In this recipe, you’ll be using the eggs to create that same effect. How? You’ll need to separate the eggs into whites and yolks, then whip both to suspend air to create this cake’s texture. Food science is cool, right?!

Sweetened Condensed Milk

You need 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk to make Baileys tres leches cake.

What is sweetened condensed milk?

Sweetened condensed milk is milk that’s been cooked down to remove water from it. Doing so gives the milk a thick, sticky, and densely creamy texture. Almost all condensed milks are sweetened (non-sweetened condensed milk is instead referred to as “evaporated milk”, which we’ll discuss more in a hot second). The sugar keeps the sweetened condensed milk shelf-stable for years, and gives the sweetened condensed milk a unique flavor. Baking recipes use sweetened condensed milk when their final product is very creamy, but also firm. Think: key lime pie fillings, caramels, and more.

Do I have to use sweetened condensed milk in this Baileys tres leches cake recipe?

Yes! Authentic, traditional tres leches cakes are often made with a combination of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and milk or heavy cream. Skipping the sweetened condensed milk will result in a cake that’s dry and missing the traditional tres leches cake flavor. Additionally, sweetened condensed milk has a unique flavor that’s hard to replicate with other ingredients!

Sweetened condensed milk is hard to find where I’m from. Can I make it at home?

In theory, yes. But I haven’t done it myself, so I can’t personally vouch for it.

However, there are many recipes online that teach you how to make sweetened condensed milk at home. This recipe by Bigger Bolder Baking and this one by Stella Parks at Serious Eats look the most legit to me. That being said, it’s a bit of a time-consuming process: both recipes instruct you to simmer the milk for a minimum of at least 35 minutes. So plan ahead if you’re planning on making your own sweetened condensed milk at home!

Evaporated Milk

You need 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk to make Baileys tres leches cake.

What is evaporated milk?

Similar to sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk is milk that’s been cooked down to remove its water content. Doing so makes the milk more shelf-stable and last far longer than refrigerated milk. However, unlike sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk has NOT been sweetened. It has a far looser and more liquidy texture more similar to regular milk.

Learn more about the differences between sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk in this article by The Kitchn.

Do I have to use evaporated milk in this Baileys tres leches cake recipe?

Yes! Authentic, traditional tres leches cakes are often made with a combination of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and milk or heavy cream. Skipping the evaporated milk will result in a cake that’s dry and missing the traditional tres leches cake flavor.

Although you could technically get away with substituting the evaporated milk in this recipe out with the same amount of whole milk, please don’t. Evaporated milk actually has a taste that’s distinct from regular milk. Because it’s been cooked down, it is slightly heavier and has a very subtle toasted, caramelized flavor.

Evaporated milk is hard to find where I’m from. Can I make it at home?

In theory, yes. But I haven’t done it myself, so I can’t personally vouch for it.

That being said, there are many recipes online that teach you how to make evaporated milk at home. This method by Extra Crispy looks particularly interesting—all you need to do is simmer the milk until some of its water evaporates. However, like making sweetened condensed milk, you’ll need to plan ahead. It looks like simmering the milk is a time-consuming process!

Baileys Irish Cream

You need ½ cup Baileys Irish Cream to make Baileys tres leches cake.

What is Baileys Irish Cream?

Baileys Irish Cream is a sweet liqueur flavored cream, cocoa, and Irish whiskey. Typically, Baileys is used in dessert cocktail recipes like chocolate martinis, mudslides, white russians, and more.

What does Baileys Irish Cream taste like?

Baileys Irish Cream tastes like heavy cream subtly flavored with chocolate and whiskey! As a result, it pairs well with caramel, coffee, and milk.

That being said, Baileys offers a surprising amount of different flavors. Looking through their site, it appears that they have the following varieties:

You can use any flavor of Baileys Irish Cream in this recipe. In fact, I actually used Baileys Deliciously Light, which is the lower calorie version of the original flavor. Just note that, if you use a different flavored Baileys, your tres leches cake will taste like that flavor! I know that sounds obvious, but you should see some of the comments I see on Hummingbird High, lol.

Do I really need to use Baileys Irish Cream in this Baileys tres leches cake?

Technically, you don’t need to use Baileys Irish Cream in this Baileys tres leches cake recipe. You can replace it with whole milk or heavy cream instead to make a classic tres leches cake recipe.

That being said, this recipe is SUPPOSED to be a twist on traditional tres leches cake. Without the Baileys, it kinda loses its personality? But you do you.

Wait, Baileys has cream in it. Does Baileys go bad after it’s been opened?

As long as you store the Baileys away from direct sunlight and at temperatures between 32°F and 77°F, Baileys will keep for up to 24 months! It turns out that the whiskey in the Baileys preserves the cream. Cool, right?

Does Baileys need to be refrigerated after it’s been opened?

Nope! Like I said above, the whiskey in the Baileys preserves the cream and makes it shelf stable. That being said, most folks serve Baileys chilled and/or over ice. So if you want to keep any leftovers in the fridge, go for it!

Heavy Cream

You need 1 ½ cups heavy cream to make Baileys tres leches cake.

Can I use whipped cream from a can instead?

Yes, with reservations. If you’re pinched for time, you can serve this Baileys tres leches cake with canned whipped cream. However, I like to make my own whipped cream from scratch. If you have a stand mixer, doing so takes just a few minutes and you end up with a much tastier result!

I also don’t recommend using canned whipped cream if you’re planning on storing the Baileys tres leches cake for a few days. Canned whipped cream deflates really quickly and turns back into its liquid form in only a few hours. However, homemade whipped cream can keep its shape for several days after whipping.

Espresso Powder

You need espresso powder to garnish Baileys tres leches cake.

What is espresso powder?

Espresso powder is made from dark roasted coffee beans that have been ground, brewed, dried, then ground into a very fine powder. Bakers frequently use espresso powder in chocolate desserts. Why? The espresso powder intensifies the cocoa flavors in the chocolate without making it taste too much like coffee. You can read more about it in this Kitchn article.

In this tres leches cake, the espresso powder highlights the cocoa flavors of Baileys Irish Cream.

Where do I find espresso powder?

I buy espresso powder online at King Arthur Baking Company. Some fancy grocery stores also sell it in their baking or coffee aisles. In fact, pro-tip: if you live in Portland, Oregon like I do, New Seasons carries DeLallo Instant Espresso Powder in their baking aisle. Target also tends to carry Medaglia D’Oro Espresso Instant Coffee in their coffee aisle.

I can’t find espresso powder. What can I use instead?

If you can’t find espresso powder, feel free to skip it in the recipe and just garnish the cake with cocoa powder. You can also replace it with ground cinnamon for a fun twist.

baileys tres leches cake

How To Make Baileys Tres Leches Cake

Here are the basic steps to make Baileys tres leches cake from scratch:

First, prep the ingredients for the Baileys tres leches cake.

  1. Prep your ingredients. (Prep Time: <10 minutes)
    With every baking recipe, I recommend you start by prepping all the ingredients in the recipe by making sure they’re on hand and measuring them out. Most of my baking recipes usually require 5 minutes or less of Prep Time. However, because you’ll be separating 6 eggs into whites and yolks, this Baileys tres leches cake requires slightly more prep. Be sure to check out the baker’s notes below on how to separate the eggs efficiently and save yourself a few dishes!

Next, make the cake batter.

  1. Whip the egg whites. (Work Time: 3 minutes)
    Start by whipping the egg whites on medium-high until they reach stiff peaks. Check out the baker’s notes below on how to tell if something is whipped to “soft peaks” versus “firm peaks” versus “stiff peaks”.

  2. Whip the egg yolks, sugar, milk, and vanilla. (Work Time: 3 minutes)
    After you whip the egg whites, transfer them to a new bowl and then whip the egg yolks. My take on the tres leches cake recipe below is unique in that I instruct you to whip your egg whites first. Many recipes instruct you to first whip the egg yolks, then clean and dry the bowl and whip the egg whites. Why? If you fail to clean the bowl after whipping the egg yolks, the egg whites don’t whip up (learn why in the Troubleshooting section below)! But this isn’t an issue if you whip up the egg yolks AFTER you whip up the egg whites. There’s no need to clean the bowl or whisk in between each whipping session, either!

  3. Fold in the dry ingredients. (Work Time: 3 minutes)
    After whipping the egg yolks with the sugar and milk, you’ll need to fold in the flour, baking powder, and salt by hand with a spatula. Folding is distinct from mixing—it is a much gentler process, and enables you to mix in the ingredients without knocking all the air you whipped into them out. Watch this video to see a demonstration on how to best fold ingredients!

  4. Fold in the egg whites in two parts. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    Finally, you need to do the same with the egg whites. It’s easiest if you work in two parts. Trying to fold the egg whites all in one go will be frustrating and hard to do!

Then, bake the cake.

  1. Bake the cake. (Bake Time: 22 minutes)
    The sponge cake bakes up pretty fast! It only requires between 22 to 24 minutes in the oven.

  2. Cool the cake.
    Before soaking the cake, you’ll need to cool it completely in its pan. Don’t soak the cake while it’s still warm! Doing so will result in a potentially soggy cake that doesn’t absorb the soak. Set the cake on a wire rack to make this process go by faster.

Now, soak the cake.

  1. Make the Baileys tres leches soak. (Work Time: 1 minute)
    Make the Baileys tres leches soak by whisking together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and Baileys Irish Cream.

  2. Pour the Baileys tres leches soak over the cake. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    Before soaking the cake, you’ll need to poke the cake with a fork several times. Doing so creates holes in the cake that allow the cake to absorb the soak more fully. Once the cake is hole-y (ha!), slowly pour the soak over it, ¼ at a time, to allow it to absorb the milks.

  3. Allow the cake to absorb the milk for 3 to 4 hours, preferably overnight.
    Yes, you’ll need to plan ahead for this one! Because there is so much liquid in the Baileys tres leches soak, it takes some time for the cake to absorb it all. It’s best if you let the cake soak overnight.

Finally, assemble the cake.

  1. Make the whipped cream. (Work Time: 3 minutes)
    Once you’re ready to serve the cake, make the whipped cream topping. Whip together the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy.

  2. Top the Baileys tres leches cake with the whipped cream, garnish, and serve! (Work Time: 2 minutes)
    Spoon the whipped cream over the tres leches cake. Garnish with cocoa and espresso powder. The cake is best when served immediately because the whipped cream loses some its fluffiness the longer it sits.

Make it Weeknight Baking: How to Make This Baileys Tres Leches Cake Recipe Fit Your Schedule

In case you somehow missed it, I wrote a cookbook about how to turn any baking project into a weeknight baking project. What does that mean, exactly? That means taking recipes that usually take all day in the kitchen (I’m looking at you, pie and layer cakes) and breaking them up into multi-day components where you’re only working in the kitchen for 30 to 60 minute segments.

This Baileys tres leches cake recipe lends itself particularly well to that format. I recommend making the cake and soaking it the day before serving. On the day you’re planning to serve the cake, make the whipped cream and assemble the cake. Here’s what that looks like:

  1. Day One: Make the Cake, Make the Baileys Tres Leches Soak, and Soak the Cake!
    This is where the lion’s share of the work will be. It takes about an hour to make the cake and soak (including Bake Time). Then, you’ll need to let the cake cool before soaking it.

  2. Day Two: Make the Whipped Cream, Assemble the Cake, and Serve!
    All in all, making the whipped cream and swooping it on the cake should take less than 10 minutes.
slices of baileys tres leches cake

Baileys Tres Leches Cake Recipe Troubleshooting and FAQ

FAQ: Baileys Tres Leches Cake Recipe Troubleshooting

Help! My egg whites wouldn’t whip to peaks. They stayed liquid even despite me whipping for ages! What did I do wrong?

Did you start with a clean and dry mixer bowl? Egg whites won’t whip if your mixer bowl has any kind of liquid, fat, or soap residue leftover from an earlier step in the recipe or from storage. That’s why in the recipe, I instruct you to whip the egg whites first—this ensures that the bowl is clean and dry!

Help! The cake shrank. What did I do wrong?

Absolutely nothing. According to Adrianna, this is totally normal! The sides of my sponge cake pulled away from the pan once cooled and left about ¼-inch of space between the cake and the pan. Don’t worry about it!

Help! My cake wouldn’t absorb the Baileys tres leches soak. What did I do wrong?

Okay, there are several things that could be causing this issue:

You overwhipped the egg whites for the cake batter.

First things first: did you overwhip the egg whites? The recipe instructs you to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Check out the baker’s notes below on how to test if you’ve whipped them to the right consistency. However, if you go too far, the egg whites will eventually come out VERY stiff and almost clumpy. You can see what that looks like in this Martha Stewart YouTube videoFood52 also has a great article on how to diagnose overwhipped egg whites, and what to do if you’ve gone overboardBut for this recipe, you can tell you’ve overwhipped them if it takes you a long time to fold them into the rest of the ingredients (and despite all your work, you still have some stubborn lumps that won’t go away).

You didn’t cool the cake completely before soaking.

Second of all: did you wait until the cake was completely cooled before soaking? I mentioned above that you’ll need to cool the cake completely before soaking it in the Baileys tres leches soak. Doing so gives the cake a sponge-like quality that allows it to soak all the liquids completely. If you soaked the cake while it was still warm, there’s a chance that the structure hadn’t set fully and will never be able to because of the soak! Also, your cake might be too soggy and I’m sorry.

You poured the Baileys tres leches soak into the cake too quickly.

Third: in the recipe below, I instruct you to pour the Baileys tres leches soak slowly over the cake, a quarter cup at a time. I also instruct you to wait and allow the milks to fully soak before pouring the next batch. Why? If you pour everything in too quickly, the cake won’t have time to absorb any of it. You’ll end up with a fair amount of soak in the bottom of the pan!

That being said, you can help the cake absorb the Baileys tres leches soak more quickly. How? First things first—poke the top of the cake with a LOT of holes. It should look ugly and pockmarked by the time you’re through with it. After pouring the soak over the cake, use an offset spatula to spread it gently across the cake, helping push the liquid into the holes. Repeat this process every time you pour soak over the cake.

It’s normal to have a little bit of leftover soak at the bottom of the pan.

And finally: how much leftover soak are we talking about here? If the cake absorbed 80% of the liquid and you’re only left with a thin layer of milk in the pan, don’t panic. That’s totally normal. In fact, this quality is actually desired in some tres leches cake recipes!

FAQ: Baileys Tres Leches Cake Recipe Results

Help! Is Baileys tres leches cake supposed to be soggy?

Er, not really. But what do you mean by soggy? Although this cake is pretty moist, it should still have a soft, cakey mouthfeel. It shouldn’t feel or taste like sludge in your mouth. If you find that it’s too thick or gluey, something went wrong.

The most likely culprit is that you soaked the cake while the cake was still warm. The cake needs to be cooled completely to allow it to develop a sponge-like texture. See my answer above about the cake absorbing the soak to learn more.

FAQ: Serving Baileys Tres Leches Cake

Is this Baileys tres leches cake kid-friendly and/or can I serve it to folks who don’t drink alcohol?

No, please don’t. This Baileys tres leches cake uses a ½ cup of Baileys in the tres leches soak. A ½ cup of Baileys is equivalent to about 4 shots of alcohol. So truthfully, a slice of this Baileys tres leches cake probably won’t contain that much alcohol. But still… err on the side of caution. I named it Baileys tres leches cake for a reason, lol.

FAQ: Storing Baileys Tres Leches Cake

How To Store Baileys Tres Leches Cake

The Baileys tres leches cake will keep, covered loosely in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

How long does tres leches cake last?

This Baileys tres leches cake keeps for about 3 days in the refrigerator.

Can you freeze tres leches cake?

Yes, but only the cake. Specifically: you can make the sponge cake, cool it completely, tightly wrap it in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator, then follow the recipe’s instructions for soaking the cake and topping with whipped cream.

DO NOT SOAK OR TOP THE CAKE BEFORE FREEZING—you’ll end up with a sad, soggy mess if you do.

Best Baileys Tres Leches Cake Recipe Tips

Best Technique Tips

  • When making the cake, you’ll need to prep your eggs by separating them into whites and yolks. The most efficient way is to crack each egg one at a time into a bowl, separate the yolk from the egg white, and pour the egg white into the bowl of the stand mixer. Why? You’ll be whipping those egg whites in the recipe—might as well save yourself a bowl!

  • You’ll notice that the recipe instructs you to whip the egg whites to “stiff peaks” and the whipped cream to “soft peaks”. The best way to determine this texture is to do a test with the whisk attachment. Dip the tip of the whisk into the mixture, remove it, and quickly turn it upside down. If the mixture is too soft, it will slide off the whisk, and you’ll need to keep whisking. If the mixture has a cloud-like structure but with peaks that lose their shape, you’re at the “soft peaks” stage. Continue whisking, then test again. If, the next time you turn the whisk upside down, the peaks hold, you’re at the “stiff peaks” stage.

More Tres Leches Cake Recipes

More Sheet Cake Recipes

Get the Recipe: Baileys Tres Leches Cake Recipe

Baileys tres leches cake is a boozy spin on tres leches cake, a classic Latin American dessert. This tres leches cake starts with a light-and-airy sponge cake. The cake is then soaked in a combination of three different milks: sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and Baileys Irish Cream.
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Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 1 ½ cups (6.75 ounces or 191 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) whole milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks
  • 1 cup (7 ounces or 198 grams) granulated sugar

For the Baileys Tres Leches Soak:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) Baileys Irish Cream

For the Whipped Cream:

  • 1 ½ cups (12 ounces or 340 grams) cold heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (1 ounce or 28 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted if necessary
  • cocoa powder, for garnish
  • espresso powder, for garnish

Instructions
 

For the Baileys Tres Leches Cake

  • First, make the cake. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously spray a 9 x 13-inch cake pan with cooking spray.
  • Mix the dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small liquid measuring cup or pitcher, whisk together the milk and vanilla.
  • Whisk the egg whites. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites. Whisk on low speed for 1 minute, then turn the mixer up to medium-high. Whisk until stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a wooden spoon or ladle to carefully scoop the egg whites into a medium bowl—be careful not to deflate them!
  • Whisk the egg yolks and sugar, then add the milk. Pour the egg yolks into the stand mixer bowl (there's no need to clean the bowl!) and add the sugar. Whisk on medium until pale yellow and doubled in volume, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer to low and slowly pour in the wet ingredients, whisking until just combined.
  • Fold in the dry ingredients, then fold in the egg whites. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the egg yolk mixture, then use a rubber spatula to fold in the ingredients until just combined. Scoop half of the egg whites over the mixture and fold them in with the spatula. Repeat with the remaining egg whites and fold them in until no major lumps of egg white remain and the mixture is just combined. At this point, it will be a very light and fluffy cake batter.
  • Assemble the cake for baking. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.
  • Bake the cake. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the top of the cake bounces back when gently pressed and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack completely before soaking. The cake will shrink as it cools—this is normal!
  • Assemble the cake for soaking. Once the cake is cool, make the soak and assemble the cake. Use a fork or a skewer to poke holes all over the top of the cake.
  • Make the soak, then soak the cake. In a large liquid measuring cup or pitcher, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and Baileys Irish Cream. Slowly pour the mixture over the cake, a quarter cup at a time, to allow the milks to soak fully between each pour. It's likely that the cake will stop absorbing liquid about two-thirds of the way through the mixture. This is normal! It will seem like too much liquid, but trust the recipe! Loosely cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, preferably overnight, to allow the cake to absorb the milks.
  • Before serving, make the whipped cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream and confectioners' sugar. Whisk on medium-high speed soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  • Assemble the cake for serving. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the whipped cream over the cake. Use an offset spatula to make large, sweeping motions across the whipped cream to spread it over the cake. Garnish with cocoa powder and espresso powder.
  • Serve and store. Serve immediately after garnishing with whipped cream. The Baileys tres leches cake will keep, covered loosely in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Notes

  • Cake recipe adapted from A Cozy Kitchen by Adrianna Adarme @acozykitchen
  • When making the cake, you’ll need to prep your eggs by separating them into whites and yolks. The most efficient way is to crack each egg one at a time into a bowl, separate the yolk from the egg white, and pour the egg white into the bowl of the stand mixer. Why? You’ll be whipping those egg whites in the recipe—might as well save yourself a bowl!
  • You’ll notice that the recipe instructs you to whip the egg whites to “stiff peaks” and the whipped cream to “soft peaks”. The best way to determine this texture is to do a test with the whisk attachment. Dip the tip of the whisk into the mixture, remove it, and quickly turn it upside down. If the mixture is too soft, it will slide off the whisk, and you’ll need to keep whisking. If the mixture has a cloud-like structure but with peaks that lose their shape, you’re at the “soft peaks” stage. Continue whisking, then test again. If, the next time you turn the whisk upside down, the peaks hold, you’re at the “stiff peaks” stage.
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Weeknight Baking:
Recipes to Fit your Schedule

Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.

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