Recipe of the Month – Pastel de Tres Leches

by Simone Riddle

Pastel de tres leches is a popular dish in Guatemala and other parts of Latin America. There would be fierce debate as to whether tres leches is a Guatemalan invention but it’s certainly found its way into most legitimate cafes and restaurants here.

Translated as ‘three milks,’ it actually uses four different kinds of milk-based products. But really, who’s counting when it tastes this good? If you’re looking for the perfect postre to go with that afternoon coffee (fair trade, of course!) then, when not try this tasty treat?

Trying to impress? Then make sure you use good quality eggs (frescos!) and splash some cash on vanilla extract. They should sell it at larger stores like Paiz but it will still taste good without it. These ingredients will llevarlo al otro nivel. Fijo.

I’ve included using dark rum for this recipe because let’s face it: what doesn’t taste good with dark rum in it? But, the recipe works perfectly well without it. Or, if you can’t afford rum, then you could always try using Quetzalteca.


For the cake

  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (or margarine) at room temperature
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 5 huevos
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the syrup

  • 2 tablespoons of ron anejo
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 1 small can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 small can of evaporated milk

For the cream topping

  • 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Fresh berries like frambuesa or sliced fresas (washed and cleaned) to serve.


1.    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch rectangular baking pan

2.    Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside

3.    Beat the butter or margarine with the cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at time. Add the 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and beat well to combine

4.    Fold the flour into the butter mixture bit-by-bit; mix until well blended. Pour the batter into the greased pan

5.    Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven. To test if it’s cooked, pierce with a fork. If the fork comes out clean, it’s cooked

6.    When the cake has cooled slightly, pierce it all over with a fork

7.    Gently pour the rum over all of the cake so it soaks into the cake

8.    In a jug, combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Gently pour over the top of the cooled cake. There is usually more syrup than the cake can absorb at first. So, keep spooning the excess syrup over the cake every so often to make the cake as moist as possible. If it’s still overflowing with liquid when you’re about to serve, you can pour off a little of the surplus

9.    When you’re ready to serve, whip the whipping cream with the remaining cup of sugar (use less sugar if you don’t like it too sweet) and the remaining teaspoon of vanilla together. Whip until you can form soft peaks. you will probably need an electric whisk to do this. Spread over the top of cake to form a final layer

10. Cut the cake into squares and serve with some of the sauce and the berries scattered on top

11. Make sure you keep any leftovers refrigerated But, if you’ve made it well, there should be very little leftovers!            ¡Buen Provecho!

Book your cookery class with Asociacion de Mujeres del Altiplano (AMA) where Women Circle members offer traditional Mayan techniques. Check out their website ( for more information.

My food blog online can be found at

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