This vegan tres leches cake is two layers of delicate vanilla sponge soaked in a mixture of milks and then filled and topped with whipped coconut milk and strawberries.
Beautiful and delicious, but I must acknowledge this isn't a traditional tres leches cake. I'm only using two types of milk in this recipe (three I suppose if you count the coconut cream in the frosting). You'll also find that most tres leches cakes are baked in one layer and so this cake has a bit less moisture in it to make it easier to layer and frost.
Table of Contents
- all-purpose flour
- baking soda
- vegetable oil - you could also use melted coconut oil or canola oil
- vanilla extract
- lemon juice - you could replace this with lime juice
- unsweetened plant milk - I used soy, but almond or oat would also work well
- sweetened condensed coconut milk - I used the Nature's Greatest Foods brand
- strawberries - you can substitute with other berries, peaches or mango if you like
- vegan cream cheese - I used Tofutti brand, but also like Miyoko's
- powdered sugar
- coconut cream - I find a lot of variation between brands. I've had good results with Savoy brand. You'll typically get more cream from a can of coconut cream than coconut milk (go figure!), but coconut milk will also work.
Step By Step Instructions
The night before making this cake, place the coconut cream in the fridge to harden.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare two 8" cake pans by oiling and lightly flouring them.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
Then add in the vegetable oil, vanilla, lemon juice, and 1 ½ cups of the milk and stir until combined.
Divide the batter equally between the two cake pans and bake for 30 minutes. Test to ensure that a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pans for 15-20 minutes and then run a butter knife around the edge of the cake and flip onto a cooling rack.
After the cake cools, transfer to a plate and use a skewer, toothpick or fork poke holes in the cakes.
Mix together the sweetened condensed milk, ½ cup plant milk and ½ tsp of vanilla.
Pour this slowly over the tops of the cakes and the put them in fridge (you may have leftover milk). Check on the cakes after 15-20 minutes and pour any leftover milk over the top. Allow the milk to soak into the cakes for at least 1 hour.
In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese and vanilla and then place in the fridge.
In a small bowl mix together cornstarch and powdered sugar and set aside.
Remove the coconut cream from the fridge and open the can. Carefully spoon out the thickened cream and leave behind the coconut water. You can save the liquid for use in smoothies or soups. Beat the coconut cream on medium-high for 2-3 minutes.
Then add in the sugar and cornstarch mixture and beat for another 2 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl then beat for an additional minute.
This should be starting to thicken up into soft peaks.
Add the cream cheese mixture to the mixer and beat until combined for 1-2 minutes.
Place the frosting the fridge until ready to use.
This frosting pipes really well, but you'll want to work quickly because the warmth of your hands on the piping bag can cause it to soften up a bit too much. If that happens you can pop it back in the fridge for a bit.
Pipe or spread frosting on top of the first cake. You can also add strawberry slices between layers. Then place the second layer on top and frost with the remaining whipped coconut cream. Decorate with sliced berries.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, however you're going to need about 2 cups of the separated cream for this recipe. I found that each can of coconut cream yielded about 1 cup of cream. If using coconut milk, you may need an additional can. A few other things to keep in mind - make sure to refrigerate for at least 8 hours and don't mix it up or shake it. You're trying to get the cream to separate and harden and will not be using the coconut liquid. Also, some brands contain guar gum or other stabilizers that may not allow the cream to separate.
This cake also works well in a 9" pan though the layers will be thinner.
Storing and Freezing
This vegan tres leches cake keeps well in the fridge for a day or two.
If making ahead to eat within 1-2 days you can put it (unwrapped) in the freezer and then take out and allow it to come to room temperature before serving. Honestly, this cake tastes great cold.
You can cut and freeze any leftover slices in an airtight container and then thaw for 30 minutes before eating.