This vegan tres leches cake uses a combination of evaporated oat milk, sweetened condensed oat milk, and coconut whipping cream which gives this sweet cake a soft and moist crumb.
Tres Leches is a traditional Latin American dessert, which origins and recipes differ by country. The name tres leches directly translates to "three milks", and consists of a light and fluffy sponge cake which is soaked in a milk mixture, often consisting of condensed milk, evaporated milk, and cream.
So this dairy-free version is far from an authentic tres leches cake, and it took me a lot of trial and error to get it to where I wanted it to be. But here is my best shot at recreating a vegan version, and it is delicious!
This recipe is a paid collaboration with Natures Charm, all views are my own.
📖 Recipe Overview
- Light and fluffy consistency with a moist crumb.
- Incredibly delicious sweet, milky vanilla flavor.
- Eggless, dairy-free, and nut-free.
- The perfect dessert for spring and summer.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
Here's what you need to make the best vegan tres leches cake:
- Evaporated oat milk, sweetened condensed oat milk, and coconut whipping cream make up the milk syrup that the cake is soaked in. Sweetened condensed coconut milk and evaporated coconut milk can be used in place of the oat milk versions.
- Aquafaba, which is the brine from a can of chickpeas acts as an egg replacer in this recipe. Tres leches cakes often contain whipped egg whites, for which aquafaba is a great substitute. The chickpea brine just needs to be whisked briefly for a minute or so to help it incorporate some air. During the trials of making this recipe, I did try whisking it to stiff peaks, like in my vegan ladyfingers recipe. However, the sponge cake did not hold up well during baking with this method.
- Oat milk and apple cider vinegar are mixed together to create a vegan buttermilk substitute. In non-vegan tres leches cake recipes, eggs provide some rise. So again, because this is an eggless cake, we're relying on additional leavening and tenderness from the buttermilk substitute. You can also use soy milk or another plant-based milk in place of oat milk.
- Sunflower oil provides moisture and richness to the cake.
- Vanilla extract and ground cinnamon for flavor.
- A combination of plain flour and cornstarch work best for this tres leches cake. Cornstarch, otherwise known as cornflour, acts as a binding agent for this cake that doesn't use any eggs.
- Granulated sugar and caster sugar both work well.
- Leavening agents which in this case are baking powder and baking soda.
- Sea salt acts as a flavor enhancer, and it also balances the sweetness of the cake.
- Fresh berries are the perfect topping for this vegan tres leche. You can use fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or any other fruits which are available to you.
🥣 How To Make Vegan Tres Leches Cake
Start by whisking the aquafaba until foamy, this will take a minute or so. I recommend using an electric mixer for this, but a stand mixer will also work.
Next, to a separate medium bowl, add the following:
- Whisk the sugar and sunflower oil until creamed together.
- Add the vanilla and whisk until mixed through.
- Whisk in the whipped aquafaba.
- Whisk in the vegan buttermilk mixture.
Onto the dry ingredients, sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into another separate large bowl. Whisk the ingredients so that they are evenly mixed.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and carefully fold them through using a rubber spatula. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
Transfer the cake batter into a prepared pan lined with parchment paper and bake in a preheated oven until a toothpick comes out clean.
How to make three milk syrup
To make the tres leches syrup, simply add the evaporated oat milk, sweetened condensed oat milk, and coconut cream to a measuring jug and whisk. Make sure you whisk out any lumps of coconut cream at this stage.
How to assemble tres leches cake
Once baked, allow the cake to cool in the baking tin for 20 minutes or so. Then use the parchment paper to carefully lift it out onto a wire rack to cool further. You can then gently lift the cake back into the cake tin from which it will be served, just make sure you carefully peel off the parchment paper before adding the soak.
Here's how to soak the cake:
- Remove the parchment paper from the cooled cake.
- Poke holes into the cake using a fork - don't be shy, the more holes the better for soaking!
- Pour the milk mixture all over the top and sides of the cake.
- Chill the cake for several hours, or overnight, allowing it to soak up the milk syrup. If the cake has not entirely soaked up the mixture after chilling, don't worry. You can serve it as is, or carefully remove any excess syrup with a spoon and serve it on the side if preferred.
Decorating the cake
To make the frosting simply whisk the coconut whipping cream until fluffy and stiff peaks form. You can add a little confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar) to the whipped cream if you want it a little sweeter, but this is completely optional.
Use a spatula to evenly spread the whipped coconut cream all over the top of the poke cake.
Lastly, you can decorate this vegan tres leche with a simple dusting of ground cinnamon or go all out with some fresh berries or seasonal fruit.
How to store tres leches cake
Tres Leches cake needs to be chilled, due to the ingredients used like coconut cream. You can transfer servings into an airtight container or simply cover the baking tray with plastic wrap so it is airtight.
It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
🎂 More Vegan Cakes
- 200 ml (⅘ cup) oat milk or soy milk
- 1 tablespoons (1 tbsp) apple cider vinegar
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) aquafaba
- 150 g (¾ cup) granulated sugar, or superfine sugar (caster sugar)
- 80 ml sunflower oil
- 2 teaspoons (2 tsp) vanilla extract
- 200 g (1 ⅗ cups) plain flour
- 20 g (2 ½ tbsp) cornstarch (cornflour)
- 2 teaspoons (2 tsp) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (½ tsp) baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon (¼ tsp) sea salt
- 1 tablespoon (1 tbsp) ground cinnamon
- 180 g (1 cup) fresh strawberries
- 120 g (1 cup) fresh raspberries
- 100 g (⅔ cup) fresh blueberries
- Please read over the recipe and instructions fully before getting started as well as the above blog post which contains more detailed instructions, images, and tips.
- Preheat your oven to 175°C (347°F). Lightly grease and line the base and sides of an 8x10.5-inch rectangular cake tin or casserole dish with parchment paper and spray the sides with oil spray.
- Combine the oat/soy milk and apple cider vinegar in a jug and set aside for 10 minutes. The milk will curdle, making a vegan buttermilk substitute.
- Add the aquafaba to a clean medium/large bowl and whisk with an electric mixer for one minute until foamy.
- Add the sugar and sunflower oil to a separate medium bowl and whisk using an electric mixer for one minute. Add in the vanilla and whisk again to combine. Whisk in the aquafaba, followed by the vegan buttermilk mixture, until combined.
- Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt into a large bowl, whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and carefully fold them together using a spatula. Do not overmix the batter.
- Pour the batter into the lined cake pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before carefully lifting it with the parchment paper onto a cooling rack to cool completely for another 10-15 minutes.
- Once cooled, carefully transfer the cake back into the cake tin and very gently remove the parchment paper. Pierce several holes in the cake using a fork.
- in a large jug combine the evaporated oat milk, sweetened condensed oat milk, and coconut whipping cream. Whisk until smooth. Slowly pour the syrup all over the top and sides of the cooled cake, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight.
- In a large bowl, whisk the coconut whipping cream and powdered sugar for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy. Using an offset spatula, spread the coconut frosting on top of the cake. Top with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon and fresh berries.
- Tres Leches cake needs to be chilled, due to the ingredients used like coconut cream. You can transfer servings into an airtight container or simply cover the baking tray with plastic wrap so it is airtight. It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Evaporated oat milk: Substitute with evaporated coconut milk
- Sweetened condensed oat milk: Substitute with sweetened condensed coconut milk
- Don't overmix the batter. As the wet ingredients include whisked aquafaba, you want to be careful not to knock out all the air when incorporating the dry ingredients. A rubber spatula and folding work just fine in this case.
- Create a parchment sling to help lift the cake out from the baking tray to cool. Remove parchment sling before adding syrup. I recommend removing the cake from the tin to cool on a wire rack as I have found this prevents the cake from becoming soggy, giving it a nice fluffy base for soaking up the milk mixture.
- Chill the cake overnight for it to soak up as much of the milk mixture as possible. If you can't wait that long (I don't blame you), it will still be delicious. Although this cake seems to get better the more it's left to soak.
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