my official birthday cake

The classic Mexican cake, Tres Leches, is my absolute favorite cake in the whole world! I love this cake so much that I declared it to be my official birthday cake a few years ago. This year, when my birthday happens to fall in the heart of the pandemic, I’m baking my own birthday cake and turning it into an Indian-flavored Masala Doodh Tres Leches Cake!

Masala Doodh Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake

The Tres Leches Cake is a popular dessert originating from Mexico. I don’t remember when I had it first, but it was most probably after I moved to the Bay Area over a decade ago. The local grocery store chain, Safeway, has hands down the best tres leches cake I’ve ever had. Believe me, I’ve tried the cake at several authentic Mexican restaurants whenever I find it on the menu, and also in Mexico when I traveled to Cancun, Cabo, and Puerto Vallarta.

Masala Doodh Tres Leches Cake

This decadent cake is often served at special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, and holidays throughout Latin America. It has gained worldwide popularity for its indulgent flavor and luxurious texture. It is essentially a yellow or a sponge cake that is soaked in the mixture of “tres leches,” which translates to “three milks” in Spanish: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream. That’s where it gets its name!

a unique formula

My love for this cake sparked my curiosity about trying to make it myself one day. The recipe seemed straightforward—a light, sponge-like cake soaked in a blend of three milks: whole milk, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk, then topped with whipped cream.

Masala Doodh Tres Leches Cake

Surprisingly, it’s made without butter! Instead, it relies on a mixture of beaten egg yolks, sugar, flour, and baking powder, with whipped egg whites folded in for extra fluffiness. This unique formula, with no butter used in the batter, gives the cake its signature spongy texture and allows it to absorb the milk mixture beautifully.

my masala doodh tres leches cake

As I was getting ready to bake my birthday cake, I had an idea pop up in my head! What if I infused the traditional Mexican dessert with Indian flavors?! I thought of a super simple way to do it – by flavoring the tres leches milk mixture with the Indian “Doodh Masala” (a spice blend made by grinding together spices like cardamom, nutmeg, saffron and nuts like almonds, pistachios, etc. used for flavoring milk, called Masala Doodh (Warm Spiced Milk), a popular Indian drink that is also served as a dessert).

Masala Doodh Tres Leches Cake

I was incredibly excited about the idea and decided to give it a try without hesitation. The outcome was absolutely amazing! The addition of Doodh Masala absolutely elevated the Tres Leches cake to a whole new level, imparting a delightful warmth of cardamom and transforming it into a truly regal Indian delicacy. I encourage you to try my recipe and experience the magical flavors and rich textures for yourself!

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Masala Doodh Tres Leches Cake


  • Author: Vasanti
  • Yield: 12 1x

Description

An Indian spin on the classic Mexican Tres Leches Cake made by infusing the tres leches milk mixture with the Doodh/Milk Masala.


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Cake

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 5 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided into 3/4 and 1/4 cups
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • cooking spray or butter for greasing

Special Equipment

  • 9×13 baking tray or glass dish
  • Electric stand or hand mixer with mixing bowls
  • Silicone or rubber spatula

For the Masala Doodh Tres Leches Mixture

  • 1 cup of whole milk, warmed up
  • 1&1/2 tsbp doodh masala (see FAQs & Notes)
  • 1 16 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12 oz can of evaporated milk

For the Top Layer

  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp rose extract

Toppings (optional)

  • crushed pistachios
  • sliced almonds
  • rose buds or petals

Instructions

Baking the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175 °C) and grease the baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, ground cardamom, baking powder and salt.
  • Beat the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of sugar together with an electric hand mixer or in a bowl of a stand mixer for about 3 mins till the mixture is pale yellow. Add the vanilla extract and milk and beat again to combine. Pour it over the flour mixture and mix well with a spatula till you get a smooth cake batter.
  • Beat the egg whites separately on high speed using a hand or stand mixer until they have soft peaks. Continue running the mixer while gradually adding in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are shiny and stiff.
  • Fold the eggs whites very gently into the cake batter, making sure the eggs whites are combined but don’t deflate too much, so that the cake is light and spongy.
  • Transfer the mixed batter gently into the baking dish and bake in the oven for 30-40 mins till it turns golden brown and the toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake.
  • Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to cool for 15-30 minutes. 

Soaking the Cake with Masala Doodh Tres Leches Mixture

  • While the cake cools, prepare the three milk mixture by mixing in the doodh masala in the warmed whole milk.
  • Once the cake is cooled, using a knife or a spatula, gently slide to unstick the sides of the cake from the pan. Then, poke holes all over the cake using a fork. 
  • Whisk condensed milk, evaporated milk and the spiced milk to combine well.
  • Slowly pour the Masala Doodh Tres Leches Mixture over the cake.
  • Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours to let the cake cool and absorb the milk mixture completely.

Decorating the Cake with Top Layer

  • When the cake is ready for the topping,, whip the heavy cream with sugar and rose extract in a bowl with a stand mixer or a hand mixer till it has soft peaks.
  • Spread the whipped cream over the cake with a spatula in a thick even layer and top with crushed pistachios, sliced almonds and rose petals. 
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve (see FAQs & Notes for storage/make-ahead information). 

Keywords: Baking Recipes

Step-by-Step Details

Step: 1

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175 °C) and grease the baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

Step: 2

In a medium bowl, combine flour, ground cardamom, baking powder and salt. Beat the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of sugar together with an electric hand mixer or in a bowl of a stand mixer for about 3 mins till the mixture is pale yellow. Add the vanilla extract and milk and beat again to combine. Pour it over the flour mixture and mix well with a spatula till you get a smooth cake batter. Beat the egg whites separately on high speed using a hand or stand mixer until they have soft peaks. Continue running the mixer while gradually adding in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are shiny and stiff.

Step: 3

Fold the eggs whites very gently into the cake batter, making sure the eggs whites are combined but don’t deflate too much, so that the cake is light and spongy. Transfer the mixed batter gently into the baking dish and bake in the oven for 30-40 mins till it turns golden brown and the toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake.

Step: 4

Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to cool for 15-30 minutes.  While the cake cools, prepare the three milk mixture by mixing in the doodh masala in the warmed whole milk.

Step: 5

Once the cake is cooled, using a knife or a spatula, gently unstick the sides of the cake from the pan. Then, poke holes all over the cake using a fork.

Step: 6

Whisk condensed milk, evaporated milk and the spiced milk to combine well. Slowly pour the Masala Doodh Tres Leches Mixture over the cake. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours to let the cake cool and absorb the milk mixture completely.

Step: 7

When the cake is ready for the topping, whip the heavy cream with sugar and rose extract in a bowl with a stand mixer or a hand mixer till it has soft peaks. Spread the whipped cream over the cake with a spatula in a thick even layer and top with crushed pistachios, sliced almonds and rose petals if you have. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve (see FAQs & Notes for storage/make-ahead information).

Recipe FAQ’s and Notes

Can I buy readymade Doodh Masala?

If you don’t have time to make your own Doodh Masala, you can absolutely buy the readymade one. Its available on Amazon!

How long will the cake stay fresh in the refrigerator?

The cake will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours when stored by sealing the tray with a plastic wrap, thus making it a great make-ahead dessert!

Happy cooking
Vasanti

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Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.



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