Cornbread Tres Leches Cake


To achieve a tres leches cake with her ideal balance of savory and sweet, pastry chef Paola Velez swaps out the classic evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk for heavy cream, half-and-half, and whole milk, mindfully adding sugar to create a balanced sweetness. The cornmeal in the cake batter gives the dessert a delicious nuttiness and a subtle crunch, made even richer with the addition of tangy labneh.

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
11 hrs


For the Cornbread Cake:

  • Cooking spray, for the baking pan

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ cups cornmeal

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 pound labneh

  • 2 large eggs

  • 3 tablespoons whole milk

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • Whipped cream and/or fresh fruit, for serving

For the Tres Leches Soak:

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • .666667 cup granulated sugar

  • ½ cup half-and-half

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly coat a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together labneh, eggs, milk, olive oil, and lemon juice until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the labneh mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Give the batter a few turns with a rubber spatula to make sure there aren't any floury pockets or clumps. Scoop the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top; bake until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

  4. While the cornbread bakes, make the Tres Leches Soak: Combine the milk, cream, sugar, half-and-half, and salt in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  5. Once your cornbread is room temperature, cut it into 12 equal pieces. Using a skewer, gently poke some holes into the cornbread to allow the Tres Leches Soak to permeate. Pour the Tres Leches Soak over the cake, cover and chill for at least 8 hours (or overnight). Serve with whipped cream and/or fresh fruit. Enjoy!

    Cornbread Tres Leches Cake
    Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell
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