This light and fluffy Vegan Tres Leches Cake is a super easy and absolutely delicious dessert. This simple cake recipe is easy to bake!
- 270 grams (about 2 1/8 cups spooned and leveled) unbleached all purpose flour (see note 1)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup organic cane sugar (see note 2)
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened original flavor soy milk or other carton non-dairy milk (see note 3)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon almond extract (omit for nut-free)
Tres Leches (Three Milks) Mixture
- 1/4 cup canned coconut milk (shake the can before opening)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened original flavor soy milk or other carton non-dairy milk (see note 3)
- 7.4 ounce can vegan condensed milk (see note 4)
- 10 ounces vegan whipped cream (see note 5)
- Fresh berries for serving (we used strawberries)
- Dusting of cinnamon, optional
- Make vegan buttermilk: Simply pour the apple cider vinegar into a measuring cup or small bowl (I prefer the measuring cup as it has a spout) and whisk (or mix with a fork) to combine. It may separate after a few minutes which is totally normal! Just give it another quick mix when it’s time to add it to the dry mix.
- Prep oven and pan: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) and line an 8x8 square baking pan or 8” round cake pan with parchment paper and/or baking spray. I’ve found the best results (with this recipe) using a 8x8 inch square pan and creating a parchment paper sling (2 lengths of parchment, one on top of the other, just turned the other way, creating a “sling” to remove the cake easily. A tab will be available on each side of the pan enabling you to easily remove it without turning the pan upside down.
- Mix the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and sugar.
- Mix in the wet ingredients: Use a large spatula to create a well in the center of the dry mix and pour in the vegan buttermilk mixture, unsweetened applesauce, vanilla extract, and almond extract (if using). Gently mix with your large spatula until just combined. It’s not a super thick batter. Try not to overmix.
- Add to the baking pan: Pour all of the mixture (scrape the sides of the bowl too) into your prepared baking pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter a few times to shake out any air bubbles.
- Bake: Bake on the center rack for 35-40 minutes, taking care NOT to open the oven door before 30 minutes has elapsed. Test the cake with a toothpick or cake tester. If it comes out clean or with tiny crumbs stuck to it, the cake is done. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes. If you lined it with parchment paper, you can let it cool in there for an hour because it will be just as easy to remove. If you prefer, you can leave the cake in there for the last few steps and serve it straight from the pan.
- Make vegan tres leches mixture: When the cake is completely cooled, make your three milks mixture by whisking together the canned coconut milk, soy (or other unsweetened carton non-dairy milk) milk, and vegan condensed milk. Your condensed milk (if you bought canned) may have a solid-ish lump in it. This was normal for the brand I bought. Just use a little arm strength and whisk it up (or use a hand blender or mixer if needed).
- Prep area: If you removed your cake from the pan, I’d place it on a cooling rack on top of some foil or parchment paper for easy cleanup, as some of the syrup may drip down onto the table.
- Poke holes in cake and add three milks mixture: Using the wider end of a chopstick (or use anything round with a diameter between ⅛-inch and ¼-inch), poke holes in the cake all the way down to the bottom of the pan. Space your holes about ½-inch apart. Once you’ve covered the entire cake, Carefully pour the vegan tres leches (three milks) mixture over the cake, concentrating on all the holes you created. You may not end up using all of the mixture. Let the cake absorb the milks for a minimum of a half hour. If your cake looks like it could take on more of the mixture, go ahead and add some more, but don’t add so much that the liquid begins pooling on top of the cake (if that starts to happen, just wipe up the excess with a paper towel).
- Serve: After 30 minutes, refrigerate the cake (preferably covered) until ready to use. When you’re ready to serve it, pile on the vegan whipped cream and spread evenly. Keep in mind that the vegan whipped cream seems to melt pretty quickly, at least under hot photography and video lights… but probably also on a hot day, so you may want to serve quickly. Serve with fresh sliced strawberries (or any berries) or a dusting of cinnamon if you prefer. Enjoy!
- Store: Refrigerate leftover vegan tres leches cake in an airtight container for up to 3 days. After that you start to lose some texture. It never seems to last that long in my house, though.
- Note 1: Please measure your flour when baking by weight on a scale, as it’s the most accurate and will give you the best outcome. If you don’t have a food scale, measure by spooning and leveling the flour (tons of easy tutorials online, and I’ve explained in the article above how to do it). When you dig your flour cup into the bag, you’re packing extra flour into the measuring cup. Too much flour and this recipe may turn out dense. I’ve only tested this recipe with unbleached all purpose flour (I usually bake with Trader Joe’s flour, although I also often use Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur Baking Company). If I were to make this recipe gluten-free, I’d use a good quality cup for cup gluten-free blend. I’ve personally used and loved King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour and Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour. I’ve also heard good things about Cup4Cup.
- Note 2: I say organic cane sugar because, in the United States (I hear this is not the case in Canada or the UK), some cane sugars are filtered through animal bone char, making them not vegan, and brands aren’t required to disclose this information. So while some brands have stepped forward and said that they don’t do this, I just buy organic to be sure. That being said, coconut sugar will also work; just keep in mind your cake will be a little darker in color.
- Note 3: The soy is a particularly nice flavor here. What matters is the thin consistency of this non-dairy milk, so if you can’t have soy, try another one like oat milk or almond milk. Remember to get the kind that comes in a carton (or if making yourself, make it a fairly thin (but still milky, if that makes sense) consistency.
- Note 4: This condensed coconut milk is the only vegan condensed milk I’ve tried but I really do love it. It also does not have a strong coconut flavor. I also saw an oat milk condensed milk but since I don’t personally love oat milk, I haven’t tried it yet. If you cannot find these in your area and don’t want to order online, try making your own. My friend Karissa has a great vegan condensed milk recipe.
- Note 5: For the whipped cream, you can make some like how I did in my Aquafaba Whipped Cream recipe, or as a shortcut you can use any brand you like of vegan whipped cream. I prefer the stuff in a container (as opposed to pressurized in a can, I feel like you get less for the money), so the So Delicious CocoWhip is REALLY good. However if you have a Whole Foods near you, they carry a 365 generic plant-based whipped topping that’s just as good and half the price. Hint: it’s what I used here because *I* was in a time crunch, lol.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: Vegan cake, vegan baking, Vegan Tres Leches, vegan dessert