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This vegan tres leches cake is a delectable treat that is quite simple to make. The straightforward and lightweight cake recipe is simple to prepare and even simpler to decorate with the vegan three-milk combination and light, foamy whipped cream (also vegan).
What is Tres Leches Cake?
Traditional Latin American sweets like tres leches have national variations in their origins and preparation. Tres leches, which translates literally to “three kinds of milk,” is a dessert made of a light, fluffy sponge cake soaked in a milky concoction that frequently includes condensed milk, evaporated milk, and cream.
Therefore, it took me a lot of trial and error to get this dairy-free version of tres leches cake to the point where I was satisfied with it. But this is my best effort to make a vegan version, which tastes great!
It’s ideal for bringing to potlucks or other gatherings. I adore how it tastes relatively light and isn’t too sweet, yet it is a relatively dense cake.
You might also want to check this article: Top 10 Best Vegan Egg Substitutes.
Why does This Vegan Tres Leches Cake Recipe Work?
Tres Leches is a cake that soaks the cooked cake in a syrup created from “three kinds of milk,” which is the direct translation of the Spanish word “tres leches” into English. Along with the United States, Mexico and other Latin American nations also enjoy great popularity for it. Then chantilly cream is added, and occasionally cinnamon or fresh berries as well.
Since I substitute applesauce for the oil, butter, or shortening recipe, it is naturally not authentically vegan because it does not include any dairy products. However, I believe you’ll still find it airy and delicious, especially after dipping it in my vegan tres leches concoction.
The cake itself is incredibly light and relatively reminiscent of angel food cake. It is pretty simple to put together; after putting the dry ingredients in a bowl, make a well in the center, add the liquids, and stir until just incorporated. All that’s left to do is bake it, let it cool, then go on to the enjoyable part.
Ingredients and Substitutions for Vegan Tres Leches
All-Purpose-Flour: Like most cakes, this one begins using flour. I’ve only tried this recipe using unbleached all-purpose flour (though I frequently use Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur Baking Company). Sometimes, I use Krusteaz Gluten Free All Purpose Flour flour when I bake. Use a high-quality Krusteaz Gluten Free All Purpose Flour mix if you want to keep this recipe gluten-free. Also, I have used and adored Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour and King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour.
Baking powder and Baking soda: Since egg whites aren’t used to fluff up the recipe, baking soda and powder aid in giving the cake the proper rise and light texture. The cake has a more challenging time absorbing the three milk combination the denser it is.
Sea salt: Adding a sprinkle of salt to baked products is a good idea for many reasons, so I don’t suggest ignoring it. Because I enjoy the flavor and think it’s less salty than conventional salt, I prefer to use Himalayan pink salt or sea salt. However, if kosher salt or iodized table salt is what you like, I recommend halving the quantity, as table salt is pretty darn salty. The actual physics behind this is that because the salts I stated later have smaller grains, more of them can fit in the measuring spoon and make the salt more potent.
Vegan-certified cane sugar: I say “vegan” because certain cane sugars in the United States are processed through animal bone char, rendering them non-vegan (I hear this is not the case in Canada or the UK), and companies are not compelled to reveal this information. Even though several firms have come up to say they don’t do this, I still only purchase organic products, to be specific. So long as you remember that your cake will be a little bit deeper in color, coconut sugar will also work.
Vegan Buttermilk: It seems challenging to track down. Not really. Unsweetened original flavor, a packet of non-dairy milk (I chose soy milk for his recipe), plus an acid like fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar may be used to make vegan buttermilk quickly and simply.
Almond Extract and Vanilla: Both vanilla and almond extracts help flavor the cake wonderfully. If you have a nut allergy, omit the almond extract because it gives the flavor a unique character. Most almond extracts include almond oil. Thus, anyone with nut allergies should avoid them.
Applesauce: Using unsweetened applesauce instead of a high-fat component makes the cake lighter and moister. I recommend using vegetable oil and vegetable shortening if you don’t mind components with more fat. I’ve had good luck using vegetable shortening instead of half of a measurement, such as a half cup of oil. But the unsweetened applesauce makes this cake taste fantastic, fluffy, and light, so I decided to use it.
Plant-based whipped cream: These days, it’s easy to get excellent store-bought vegan whipped cream. I believe that purchasing a tub from the freezer aisle will provide you with far more value than attempting to utilize canned vegan whipped cream. If you’d like, you may also create aquafaba whipped cream.
Share the image below on your Pinterest board if you like this vegan Tres leches cake!
Vegan “Syrup” for Tres Leches
Canned coconut milk: This substitutes for heavy cream and is quite rich; nevertheless, there isn’t much coconut taste when combined with the other components. A heavy non-dairy creamer or richer homemade nut milks would make good alternatives (a good example is cashew).
Unsweetened natural taste soy milk: The soy flavor here is quite pleasant. If you can’t use soy, choose another non-dairy milk like oat or almond if the thin consistency is what counts to you. Keep in mind to get the variety packaged in a carton or, if preparing it yourself, to achieve a reasonably thin (though still milky) consistency.
Coconut condensed milk: I’ve only tried condensed coconut milk as a vegan alternative, but I genuinely adore it. Additionally, the flavor of coconut is not overpowering. I also noticed oat milk condensed milk, but I haven’t tried it yet because I don’t particularly enjoy oat milk. Try making your own if you can’t find things locally and don’t want to purchase them online.
Vegan Tres Leches Cake Recipe
Enjoy this vegan tres leches cake anytime! Personally, I’ll need to create another one as the entire thing was consumed in just three days.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
For the Cake
- 2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour (260g)
- 1 cup vegan cane sugar
- 1 1\2 tsp of baking soda
- 1 1\3 tsp of baking powder
- 1 tsp of sea salt
- 1\2 cups soy milk, unsweetened (or other non-dairy milk)
- 1 1\2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 1/2 cup of applesauce, unsweetened
- 3 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 tsp of almond extract (use other for a nut-free version)
For Tres Leches, Three Milks Mix
- 4 TBPS of canned coconut milk (shake the coconut milk can before opening)
- 1/2 cup of soy milk unsweetened (or other non-dairy milk)
- 1 cup vegan condensed milk (full can)
- 10 – 11 oz of vegan whipped cream
- Fresh strawberries (or other berries)
- Cinnamon for dusting, optional
- Add apple cider vinegar to a measuring cup or small bowl to make vegan buttermilk. I like the measuring cup since it has a spout—whisk (or use a fork to mix) to incorporate. After a couple of minutes, it can split, which is very natural! When it’s time to incorporate it into the dry mix, just give it a short mix once more.
- Set the oven to 350 ℉ (178 ° C), and line an 8×8 square baking pan or an 8″ round cake pan with parchment paper or baking spray. I’ve discovered that using an 8×8 inch square pan and making a parchment paper sling (two pieces of parchment paper stacked one on top of the other and turned the other) provides the most outstanding results (with this recipe). Each edge of the pan will have a tab that you may use to detach it without flipping the pan upside down.
- Combine the dry ingredients: Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
- Combine the wet ingredients: Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients with a big spatula and add the vegan buttermilk mixture, vanilla extract, applesauce, and almond extract (if using). Use your big spatula to incorporate all the ingredients gently. Not a lot of batter is in it. Avoid overmixing.
- Pour the entire mixture into the prepared baking sheet, scraping the bowl’s edges as you go. To remove any air bubbles, gently push the pan on the counter a few times.
- Bake: Bake for 35 to 40 minutes on the middle rack, being careful not to lift the oven door until 30 minutes have passed. Use a toothpick or other cake tester to check the cake. The cake is finished when it removes clean or with a few little crumbs attached. It should rest in the pan for at least 30 minutes after being taken out of the oven. It will be just as simple to remove if you lined it with parchment paper, so you may let it cool inside for an hour. If you’d like, you may skip the last few stages and serve the cake directly from the pan.
- Create the plant-based tres leches mix by whisking the vegan condensed milk, canned coconut milk, and soy (or other unsweetened non-dairy milk) once the cake has cooled down. If you purchased canned condensed milk, it might have a rather solid lump. This was typical of the brand I purchased. Just whisk it up with some arm power (or use a mixer or hand blender if needed).
- Area of preparation: If you took your cake out of the pan, I’d recommend setting it on a wire rack to cool on top of some foil or tissue paper for quick cleanup, as some of the syrup could fall down onto the table.
- Make holes in the cake and fill with a vegan three-milk mixture: Poke holes down to the bottom of the cake using the broader end of a bamboo stick or any other round object with a diameter between 1/4 inches and 1/8 inches. Your holes should be spaced around 1/2 inch apart. Once the cake is completely coated, carefully pour the vegan tres leches (three kinds of milk) mixture over it, paying particular attention to all the holes you made. You might not use the entire combination. Give the cake at least 30 minutes to absorb the milks. Add more if your cake appears to be taking on more of the mixture. However, don’t add too much so that the liquid starts to collect on top of the cake (if that happens, just wipe up the extra with a paper towel).
- Serve your Tres Leches: Following around 30 min, place the cake in the refrigerator (ideally covered) until needed. Add a generous amount of plant-based whipped cream and spread it out when ready to serve. Remember that the plant-based whipped cream appears to melt pretty quickly, but possibly also on a warm day, so you might want to serve it immediately. Serve with freshly cut strawberries (or other berries) or a sprinkle of cinnamon if you’d like. Dig in!
- Storing Tres Leches: For up to three days, store the remaining vegan tres leches cake in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You then begin to lose a little texture. However, it never seems to linger that long in my home.
Vegan Tres Leches – Expert Advice
- Gently incorporate the ingredients into the batter as you mix it. The cake will grow heavier as it is overmixed more. A denser cake won’t rise as high and won’t be able to soak up as much of the delightful three-milk combination.
- Be sure to cover the whole surface of the cake while drizzling the three milk mixtures on it. If it drips down the edges, don’t be concerned.
- Instead of the stuff in a can, I advise using plant-based whipped cream from a tub in the freezer area. Since there doesn’t appear to be much whipped cream in those compressed cans, you’ll receive more for your money. Serve this alternatively with a spoonful of vegan strawberry ice cream (or vegan vanilla ice cream).
My Tres Leches Cake is Sogy, is that ok?
It’s supposed to be quite moist. The cake will taste and feel more creamy and moist than any other sort of cake, but it should still have some firmness.
Can I prepare Tres Leches in advance?
Yes, you may prepare the cake portion in advance. I advise delaying soaking it in the three-milk combination until a few hours before serving.
Can Tres Leches cake be frozen?
Likewise, you may bake the cake and freeze it. However, I’d suggest defrosting it first, pouring the three milk mixture, and then waiting several hours before sprinkling vegan whipped cream on top and serving.
How is Tres Leches Cake served?
The vegan whipped cream can quickly melt, so it’s best to wait to add it until shortly before serving. This cake should have a thick coat of plant-based whipped cream on top; typically, the sides are left unadorned. Cut the cake into squares.
To look even more beautiful, top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a piece of fresh strawberry. Additionally, I’ve seen people add a bit of fresh mint.
For how long can Tres Leches be Stored?
Before it loses texture, vegan Tres Leches cake keeps well in the refrigerator for approximately three days. It should be served cold and kept in a sealed container for storage. If you think it needs it, you may always add a little extra vegan whipped cream on top. No fruit sliced up should be stored alongside it (the juices from the fruit will make a mess).