This recipe is based on a dish that originated in medieval Europe; it has since become a popular dessert in Spain and South America and is referred to as ‘tres leches’. My version adds bay leaves and vanilla for some extra aromatics to this easy milky delight.






Skill level

Average: 2.5 (25 votes)


Bay leaf milk

  • 150 ml full-cream milk
  • 150 ml condensed milk
  • 150 ml evaporated milk
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 vanilla pod, cut and scraped
  • 1 tsp river salt

Milk cake

  • 100 g butter
  • 1 vanilla pod, cut and scraped
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • ⅓ cup full-cream milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 100 g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly crushed

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 2 hours

For the bay leaf milk, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, place on a low heat and slowly bring the mix to the boil. Once boiled, remove from heat and set aside. Leave it to infuse for an hour before straining, leaving to cool and placing it in the fridge.

To make the cake, gently melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once it has liquefied, add the vanilla pod, give the pan a little twirl, remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until they have doubled in size. Add the milk and butter and continue whisking gently until just combined. Remove the vanilla pod and gently fold in the flour in batches.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the whites with the salt until you have nice soft peaks. Gently fold them through the cake mixture.

Spread into a lined 20 cm or 22 cm diameter cake tin and place in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 15 minutes. Use a skewer to test if it’s ready; it should come out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes or so. Leaving it in the tin, use a skewer to gently poke holes all through it and then pour over half the milk mixture. Let the cake sit for another hour.

To serve, remove the cake from the tin, carefully cut it into pieces and place it on plates. Pour over some extra milk mix and sprinkle with a nice pile of hazelnuts. Delicious.


Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson.

White porcelain side plate from Koskela; dessert fork from Chef and The Cook.


For a taste of O Tama Carey’s cooking, visit her at Berta restaurant in Sydney. Like Berta on Facebook, and follow the restaurant on Twitter and Instagram.


Read our interview with Tama. This recipe is from our online column, The Seasonal Cook: spring milk. View previous The Seasonal Cook columns and recipes.