What makes the Tres Leches Cake, a Latin American and Mexican humble cake, so alluring ????  Well, for Latin Americans and Mexicans this cake is baked at home and the recipe is passed down from one generation to another.  For others it is a moist, sticky and sweet cake that literally melts in your mouth.

My passion for new flavours drew me to create a “Four Leches” cake.  I added coconut milk  to the milk mixture and instead of vanilla essence I used ground star anise.  The result is a great “Four Leches” cake full of unique flavours.

Ingredients for the Milk Mixture

  • 1 can sweet condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon of ground star anise (grind the star anise in a mortar with a pestle until it is like a powder)

Ingredients for the cake

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Ingredients for the Frosting

  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method for the Four Milk Mixture

  • Pour the condensed milk in to a large bowl, then whisk in the evaporated milk, coconut milk, cream and ground star anise.  Let it rest for one hour to let all the flavours infuse.


Method for the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Grease a 9 to 13 inch baking dish.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  • Heat the butter and milk in a small saucepan over a low heat until the butter is melted, set aside to cool.
  • With an electric mixer on a medium speed, beat the eggs in a large bowl for 30 seconds, then slowly add the sugar until incorporated.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the egg mixture is very thick and glossy.


  • Reduce the speed to low and mix in slowly the melted butter mixture and vanilla.
  • Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the bowl, then mix on medium speed until the flour is fully incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.  30 to 35 minutes.
  • Using a wooden skewer, poke holes all over the top of the cake.  Slowly pour the milk mixture over the cake until completely absorbed by the cake through the holes.


  • Let it sit for half an hour, then cover the cake and refrigerate over night.
  • For the frosting, remove the cake from the refrigerator and pipe the frosting.


Method for the Frosting

  • Combine the egg whites, sugar, water, syrup and salt in the top of a double boiler and place over rapidly boiling water.  On the high speed of an electric mixer, beat constantly for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the icing stands up in soft peaks.
  • Remove from the heat, add the vanilla, and beat about 1 minute or until the icing has the desired piping consistency.


  • Using a piping bag pipe the merengue in any shape you want on top of the cake.
  • Put the cake back in the fridge for an hour.
  • Use a torch to colour the top of the merengue.  Sprinkle the star anise powder and put a few star anise to decorate the cake.
  • The cake should be served cold and always kept in the refrigerator.


  • The sponge must soak up all the “four milks”.  It has to be moist and not mushy.
  • Use the torch on the merengue, it is easy and the result is beautiful.
  • The star anise has to be ground finely.
  •  The flavours in this cake will develop and improve with time.

4 thoughts on ““Cuatro Leches cake”

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