Cafe Latte’s Tres Leches Cake

Cafe Lattes Tres Leches Cake

A creamy, dreamy “three milks” cake from the famed Twin Cities eatery,  Cafe Latte.



Cake Layer:

  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup buttermilk

Soaking Liquid:

  • ½ can (4 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla


  • 4 teaspoons gelatin (you’ll need 1 packet + 1 teaspoon from another)
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla



Butter an 8” round pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour, shaking out any excess flour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to oil mixture. Add buttermilk in stages, stirring (a wooden spoon works well) until the mixture is wet enough to accept the rest, being careful not to overbeat.

Pour into the round cake pan, bake for 20-25 minutes until cake is golden brown and when pressed lightly in the center, springs back. The top will be slightly rounded but will even out as it cools.

Cool in pan about 10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Soaking Liquid:

Combine all ingredients with a whisk, then pour into a bowl or measuring cup with a spout. When cake is cool, slice in half horizontally so there are two 8” round layers. Arrange cut side up. Slowly pour soaking liquid over the cake layers.


In a small saucepan, add the water then sprinkle gelatin evenly over the top. Let sit for several minutes until gelatin softens and becomes translucent. If it doesn’t become translucent after about10 minutes, place the pan over medium-low heat for just a few seconds until gelatin starts to melt. Remove pan from heat and swirl to distribute heat and fully melt the gelatin.

Slowly mix in about 3/4 cup of the cream, set aside. In the meantime, add cream to mixing bowl and beat just until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar, then with the mixer running, slowly add the gelatin cream mixture. Turn mixer on high and beat until very stiff peaks form.

The whipped cream at that stage may not look quite as smooth as “regular” whipped cream but will smooth out as it’s spread.

Place one layer of cake on a cake plate, cut side up, and top with 1/3 of the whipped cream, then smooth it. Place the second layer on top of the whipped cream, cut side down, then to the top, add another 1/3 of the whipped cream and smooth it. Frost sides with the remaining whipped cream.

For best results, refrigerate for several hours before cutting. Store in the fridge, keeps very well for two days, if you’d like to make it ahead, but is still good after several days in the fridge.


No buttermilk? No problem. Add a teaspoon and a half of vinegar to a measuring cup. Add milk until it reaches the 1/2 cup mark.

Make sure to measure the soaking liquid exactly or you’ll end up with a cake that is too dry or worse, too wet.

If you need a recipe to use the rest of the condensed milk, check out the Fake Frappe recipe right here on my site.

Garnish with fresh berries; Cafe Latte uses raspberries.

For best results, refrigerate for several hours before cutting.

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