Tres Leches Cake is a latin milk soaked sponge cake with a soft and moist crumb. The cake is soaked in three kinds of milk (tres- three, leche- milk) and thats how it gets its name. The sponge itself is airy and it absorbs the milk sauce to form a luscious, dense and rich cake. This masala chai tres leche tastes like a cup of sweet milky indian chai aka tea - it's indulgent, soft and has a wonderful taste of milky tea and spices in every bite.
Saying that my family loves tres leches cake is an understatement. I mean they adore it!! There are very few cake flavors that we all agree upon at once and this is definitely the one. For Diwali this year, I wanted to make a cake inspired by indian flavors and that is how this idea was born.
What is Masala Chai Tresh Leches Cake?
A light and airy chai spiced sponge soaked in a tea infused 3 milk concoction which is covered in dulce de leche whipped cream. Dreamy right?
Check out these other Masala Chai Recipes :-
This Masala Chai Tres Leches Cake is
- airy and moist
- tastes like milky sweet chai (doodh patti (milky indian tea), see this video I made earlier this year)
- super easy to make
- perfect for festivals
There are quite a few steps to this recipe but nothing is too complicated. The four essential steps to making this cake are –
- Grinding the chai masala(spice blend) (always grind fresh masala)
- Baking the sponge
- Soaking it in tea infused milk sauce
- Topping it with the dulce de leche whipped cream.
Masala Chai Tres Leche Ingredients
The recipe needs every simple basic ingredients from you pantry and refrigerator. You will need flour, leavening agents, sugar and yogurt for the cake. Other than that you will need 3 kinds of milk products- evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream to make the soaking milk. You will need heavy cream and dulce de leche to make the frosting.
Lets look at the components of Masala Chai Tres Leches Cake one by one :
- Chai Masala : - Chai Masala is a spice blend which is used to flavor indian tea. Every home has its own recipe but essentially the spices are cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. Some families like using fennel in their chai masala as well. Chai masala is one of the most fragrant blends out of indian kitchens. Find my chai masala recipe here
- Chai Masala Spiced Sponge:- This is an eggless sponge made with flour, whole milk and full fat yogurt. It is flavored with fresh made chai masala (see recipe). This is a light, airy sponge which happens to be egg free and butter free.
- Three Milk (Leche) - This is one of the most important component of any leche cake. It is a blend of 3 kinds of milk - evaporated milk, condensed milk and heaavy cream. For this recipe, I infuse the evaporated milk with orange pekoe black tea to get that authentic chai flavor. A little bit of chai masala goes in as well for deep flavor.
- Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream :- You can use plain whipped cream, this cake will still taste awesome. However, I loved the combination of dulce de leche and chai spices in this cookie recipe I developed last year during the holidays and thats the reason I flavored the whipped cream this way.
A few tips and tricks to be kept in mind when you make this cake :-
Cake Batter : - The cake batter is made in one bowl.It is one of the most easy cakes to bake. Fold the batter with a spatula just until it is well incorporated then stop. Keep in mind to not overmix the batter. You can bake the cake in a round pan, however I like square or rectangular casserole pans since its easier to carry or serve from.
Sweetness :- The cake is not too sweet on its own, the main sweetness of this cake comes from the milk concoction.
Dairy : - The cake uses a lot of dairy products like many kinds of milk and yogurt. Always choose whole milk and full fat yogurt for this recipe.
Make Ahead :- You can bake and soak the cake on one day and then next day just make the whipped cream and slather it on top. The cake needs to soak for at least 12 hours for best flavor.
Serving Suggestions :- Reserve a bit of the soaking milk and serve it with the cake slices. Cake with extra milk is truly heavenly.
Variations : - You can bake this cake batter into 12 cupcakes and bake for about 18 minutes till a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes, poke and individually soak them in milk. Then you can pipe the whipped cream just like you would decorate cupcakes.
How to store :- Once you have soaked the cake, you can store it unfrosted for 1 week in the refrigerator. After frosting the cake, serve it with 2-3 days. Additionally, you can freeze the unsoaked sponge for unto two months. Thaw the cake and then soak and frost it.
Masala Chai Tres Leches
For the Chai Masala (makes ¼ cup masala, we won't use the whole thing)
- 1 tablespoon ground green cardamom
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ tablespoon ground dried ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 4-5 black peppercorns, fine ground
For the Sponge Cake
- ¾ cup whole milk thick yogurt (not too tart or watery), at room temperature
- ¼ cup whole milk,at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon chai masala (recipe below)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1.5 cup all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
For the Chai Infused Milk (This will make extra for serving)
- 4-5 orange pekoe black tea bags
- 12 oz evaporated milk
- 14 oz condensed milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon chai masala (recipe below)
For the dulce de leche Whipped Cream
- 1.5 cup heavy whipped cream , super cold
- 2-3 tablespoon dulce de leche
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Grind the Chai Masala
- Add all the spices to a bowl. Mix well. Chai Masala is ready for baking.
Make the Chai Infused 3 Milk Mixture
- Warm up the evaporated milk. Add the tea bags and let infuse for 10-12 minutes. Squeeze the tea bags nicely to get all the flavor and the milk they absorb.
- In a large jug or measuring cup with spout, mix the tea infused evaporated milk with condensed milk and heavy cream. Add ½ teaspoon of chai masala and combine. Reserve ¾ cup for serving. Keep ready.
Bake the Sponge
- Preheat the oven to 350F / 180 C. Brush a 7 by 11 rectangular pan/ 8 or 9 inch square pan with 1 tablespoon oil. See notes.
- in a large bowl, add the yogurt, milk sugar and oil. Whisk for 2-3 minutes until smooth and combined, the sugar should completely dissolve. Add 1 teaspoon of chai masala and mix well.
- Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder in two batches over the yogurt. After each batch, gently fold using a spatula until just incorporated.
- Pour the batter in the cake pan and bake in the middle rack for 28-32 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Mine was done at about 31 minutes. Pull the cake out and let cool for 7-8 minutes.
- Using the back of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the cake. Pour the milk mixture all over the cake. Cover the cake with cling wrap and refrigerate for atleast 4 hours or preferably overnight so the cake can soak up all the milk and flavors.
Make the dulce de leche Whipped Cream
Assemble the cake
- Remove the chilled soaked cake. Add a generous amount of whipped cream to the cake and using a spatula spread it out as evenly on the top part as possible. Sprinkle with silvered pistachios, rose petals, edible gold etc or decorate as you wish.
- Serve sliced with the reserved milk mixture. Store the leftovers refrigerated.
- The thickness of the sponge will vary depending on the size of cake pan you use.