This Vegan Tres Leches cake is nothing short of a dream. A dream come true!! A sweet vanilla cake is soaked in almond, macadamia, and oat milk, covered in silky coconut whipped cream, then topped with strawberries.

Glass bowl filled with the ingredients to make vegan tres leches cake

I had avoided veganizing this recipe for so long, thinking that I couldn’t possibly get it right or that I had to make vegan condensed milk, and who has time to make vegan condensed milk?? I don’t know why, but inspiration finally hit and this vegan version of homemade tres leches cake was born.

Tres leches cake batter in a glass bowl with a blue whisk

What is Tres Leches Cake?

Tres leches (three milks) cake is traditionally a vanilla sponge cake soaked in condensed milk, evaporated milk, and cream (media crema). It is topped with whipped cream and berries or assorted fruit, and sometimes cinnamon. On occasion, rum or rompope (a sort of Mexican eggnog) is added to the milk mixture. To make this vegan I decided to use almond, macadamia nut, and oat milk. The combination proved to be ridiculously good!

Tres leches cake resting on a rack

Tres Leches Cake History

This is a tricky one. Some say that tres leches cake originated in Nicaragua, but Mexico certainly claims it as its own, and Cuba and Puerto Rico have their own versions of well. Tres leches cake became popular in Latin America in the 19th century, possibly due to Nestle publishing a recipe in the back of its cans of condensed milk. They, however, did not invent it, even before then you can find various versions of milk-soaked cakes way before the 19th century. Without a doubt, there is some influence of European colonization, thus there are some who believe tres leches is a new world version of  European milk soaked cakes topped with cream, like tiramisu.

Milk being poured on tres leches cake in a red baking dish

 

The Challenges of Making an Authentic Tres Leches Cake Vegan

It wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined, because I decided to completely leave out the condensed milk. Instead, I combined three plant-based milks with sugar and reduce the liquid by 1/3. The cake itself was the biggest challenge. The cake needed to be dry or maybe not dry, but at least not overly moist. The omnivore version is made without oil and mostly eggs which presented a huge problem in the vegan version. After 4 tries I came up with a cake that is dry enough to absorb the milk, but strong enough to not become mush instantly.

A slice taken out of a tres leches cake in a red baking dish

I tried 2 types of coconut whipped cream. I decided not to make my own but go with a store-bought option. First I tried So Delicious Coco Whip which turned out too sweet and heavy for my taste for this cake. I settled with Reddi-whip’s Coconut Whipped Topping which is light and airy, and not too sweet.

Tres leches cake on a white plate topped with a sliced strawberry

 

The Recipe: Vegan Tres Leches Cake

  • It’s very important to make the cake the day before so you can let it sit out and dry out a little bit.
  • This cake is not meant to be eaten without soaking in milk!! You’ve been warned.
  • I used almond, macadamia nut, and oat milk, but you can use any combination you prefer. If you like coconut, I suggest coconut milk.
  • Top with strawberries or assorted berries. The acid in the berries cut the sweetness of the cake.
  • This cake will not keep for more than a day, it will get too mushy, so try to eat it all in one day.
  • If you want to make your own whipped topping I recommend this recipe.
  • Enjoy!!

Tres leches cake on a white plate topped with a sliced strawberry

Tres leches cake on a white plate topped with a sliced strawberry
0 from 0 votes
Print

Vegan Tres Leches Cake

This Vegan Tres Leches cake is nothing short of a dream. A dream come true!! A sweet vanilla cake is soaked in almond, macadamia, and oat milk, covered in silky coconut whipped cream, then topped with strawberries.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword tres leches cake, vegan mexican recipes
Resting Time 10 hours
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 10 Servings
299 kcal
Author Dora S.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 1 ½ cups Almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 ½ tsp. White vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cups All-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. Baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups Sugar, granulated
  • ½ tsp. Salt

Milk Syrup:

  • 1 cup Almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 cup Macadamia nut milk, unsweetened
  • 1 cup Oat milk, unsweetened
  • ½ cup Sugar, granulated

Whipped Topping:

  • 2 cans Reddi-whip Coconut Whipped Topping
  • 1 pint Strawberries, hulled and sliced

Preparation

To make the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13” baking dish with parchment paper and lightly grease with vegetable oil.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the almond milk, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well. Let sit for 5 min.
  3. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Mix well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix with a whisk until you have a smooth batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake in the middle rack of the oven, for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

  6. Remove from oven. Let cake cool, and remove from baking dish. Remove parchment paper and let cake cool completely on a rack. Leave it out at room temperature without covering it, overnight.

To make the milk syrup

  1. While your cake is baking. Combine the three milks and sugar in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 20 min. Remove from heat and let cool in the refrigerator until ready to use. You should have about 2 cups of milk syrup.

Assembly

  1. The following day, using a serrated knife, gently cut the dome off the top of your cake. Poke the surface of the cake several times with a fork or a steak knife.

  2. Place your cake inside of the baking dish and pour milk syrup over it as evenly as possible. Place in your fridge and let cake soak for 30 min.

  3. When you’re ready to serve, top the cake with the coconut whipped topping and spread with a spatula. (Don’t add the whipped topping to the cake unless you’re ready to serve it.)

  4. Arrange the sliced strawberries on top of the whipped topping and serve.

Chef's Notes

It's very important to make the cake the day before so you can let it sit out and dry out a little bit.

• This cake is not meant to be eaten without soaking in milk!! You've been warned.

• I used almond, macadamia nut, and oat milk, but you can use any combination you prefer. If you like coconut, I suggest coconut milk.

• Top with strawberries or assorted berries. The acid in the berries cut the sweetness of the cake.

• This cake will not keep for more than a day, it will get too mushy, so try to eat it all in one day.

• If you want to make your own whipped topping I recommend this recipe.

Nutrition Facts
Vegan Tres Leches Cake
Amount Per Serving (1 slice)
Calories 299 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Sodium 306mg 13%
Potassium 114mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 67g 22%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 44g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 1.1%
Vitamin C 33.7%
Calcium 12.1%
Iron 9.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

These are Guanajuato’s famous Vegan Potato Enchiladas (Enchiladas Mineras) filled with a sautéed onion and mushroom mix, smothered in a guajillo enchilada sauce, and topped with tender potatoes and carrots, crema, shredded lettuce, and jalapeños en escabeche.

tofu crema in blender for vegan potato enchiladas

 

Enchiladas are one of those Mexican dishes that have an infinite number of variations depending on the region. These easy vegan enchiladas are called enchiladas mineras or miner’s enchiladas, because Guanajuato was once the world’s silver-extraction center (18th century). Guanajuato is a state in central Mexico, its capital, the city of Guanajuato is a UNESCO world heritage site, famous for its beautiful examples of Baroque architecture.

White strainer full of cooked diced potatoes and carrots

This recipe is part of an amazing project called Our Vegan Mexico, where 32 talented cooks will be showcasing, right here on Dora’s Table, 32 vegan Mexican recipes. Each recipe will be representing one state of the Mexican union.

Cast iron pan with sauteed mushrooms for vegan potato enchiladas

With this project, I am hoping to encourage the Mexican community in the U.S., and the people of my country to take a chance and make the change to a plant-based diet. This recipe is representing Guanajuato and is the creation of Enrique Rodriquez, here he tells you a bit of his story:

Sauce pot filled with red enchilada sauce and a wooden spoon showing the sauce

My name is Enrique Rodriguez and I’m from the city of Irapuato in the state of Guanajuato, and I have been vegan for more than 4 years. Ever since I was a child I wondered what vegetarianism was all about and always declared myself a lover of animals. So much so, that I stopped eating fish, because my first pets were fish, except for tuna in a can, probably because I couldn’t see the fish’s corpse, hahaha.

vegan potato enchiladas topped with carrots, potatoes, lettuce, and crema in a large blue bowl

As an adult, I met a group of animal activists in Irapuato, and that’s how it all started. I began researching veganism and in one week I stopped eating all animal products. It was easy for me, since I didn’t really like eating meat to begin with, and I learned to substitute it with beans and vegetables such as garbanzos, lentils, mushrooms, etc. My love for cooking and animals grew, and I began to veganize every recipe I came across, and now this lifestyle will accompany me forever.

 

vegan potato enchiladas topped with carrots, potatoes, lettuce, and crema in a large blue bowl

 

The Recipe: Vegan Potato Enchiladas (Enchiladas Mineras)

Traditionally this recipe uses quite a bit of oil. I have opted for a healthier version, but if you don’t mind the oil you can follow the traditional methods. To do so, after dipping the tortilla in the sauce fry them lightly in a large sauteé pan with 1 tbsp. of oil. Fill the tortilla then fold in half. In the same pan you fried the tortillas fry the potato and carrots.

If you are allergic to nuts you can make a tofu crema by blending: 1 lb. of silken tofu, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic, 1/3 cup of water or unsweetened almond milk, 1 tsp. of nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to taste.

The enchilada sauce is not very spicy, so if you like spicy food add 1 to 2 chiles de arbol to the sauce.

vegan potato enchiladas topped with carrots, potatoes, lettuce, and crema in a large blue bowl
0 from 0 votes
Print

Vegan Potato Enchiladas (Enchiladas Mineras)

These are Guanajuato’s famous Vegan Potato Enchiladas (Enchiladas Mineras) filled with a sautéed onion and mushroom mix, smothered in a guajillo enchilada sauce, and topped with tender potatoes and carrots, crema, shredded lettuce, and jalapeños en escabeche.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword easy enchiladas, vegan enchiladas, vegan mexican recipes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Dora S.

Ingredients

  • 2 Medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 Medium carrots, peeled, and cubed

Enchilada Sauce

  • 15 Dried Guajillo chiles, stems and seed removed
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • ¼ tsp. Ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. Mexican oregano, dried

Filling

  • 1 lb. Cremini, oyster or maitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Onion, large, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Favorite shredded vegan cheese (optional)
  • 12 Corn tortillas

Garnish

  • Almond Crema
  • Jalapeños en Escabeche, sliced
  • 2 cups Shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce

Preparation

To make the enchilada sauce

  1. On a skillet or comal set to medium heat, toast the guajillo chiles for a couple seconds on each side.
  2. Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Place the soaked chiles, garlic, cumin, oregano, and 2 cups of the chile soaking liquid and process until smooth. Strain and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the filling

  1. Add ¼ cup of water or vegetable stock to a large sauté pan set to medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 5-6 minutes, or until almost all the moisture has evaporated from the mushrooms and they are beginning to brown. Add more liquid if necessary.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and continue cooking until the onion is tender and translucent about 6 more minutes. Add more liquid as necessary. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Place potatoes in a medium saucepot with cold water and salt. Bring to a low simmer and let cook for 5 minutes, add carrots and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes more or until the potatoes and carrots are tender. Strain and set aside.

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Bring enchilada sauce to a very low simmer in a medium saucepot, dip a tortilla in the warm sauce, very quickly, and place on a plate. Fill with mushroom mixture and vegan cheese and fold the tortilla over. Place on serving platter. Repeat this process with the rest of the tortillas.

  3. Pour some extra sauce on top of the enchiladas and spread with a spoon. Place in oven for 5 to 6 minutes to melt the vegan cheese. (You can omit this step if you’re not using cheese).

  4. Remove from oven. Top enchiladas with the potato-carrot mixture, shredded lettuce, jalapeños en escabeche, and drizzle crema on top and serve.

Chef's Notes

Traditionally this recipe uses quite a bit of oil. I have opted for a healthier version, but if you don’t mind the oil you can follow the traditional methods. To do so, after dipping the tortilla in the sauce fry them lightly in a large sauteé pan with 1 tbsp. of oil. Fill the tortilla then fold in half. In the same pan you fried the tortillas fry the potato and carrots.

If you are allergic to nuts you can make a tofu crema by blending: 1 lb. of silken tofu, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic, 1/3 cup of water or unsweetened almond milk, 1 tsp. of nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to taste.

The enchilada sauce is not very spicy, so if you like spicy food add 1 to 2 chiles de arbol to the sauce. 

Who knew death could be so colorful? Purple and orange tissue paper banners line altars decorated with marigold petals, colorful sugar skulls, and a bounty of fruit and vegetables. This is a celebration of life and triumph over death, the intermingling of the religious beliefs of the indigenous people of Mexico and the faith of the Spaniards that conquered them. The Day of the Dead is not only a holiday that honors those who have left us, but it is believed that on that special day the souls of the dead return to visit the living. Both the indigenous people and the Church of the Spaniards believed that death was not an end, but only a passageway to another life. That is why this is a joyous occasion, a homecoming festival, and at the same time a way to mock death and the power it holds over our bodies.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores, the Aztecs held rituals for the dead during the summer months in a joint celebration with the first days of harvest. The dead were traditionally buried with rich offering of ceramics, personal objects, and food. The offerings where meant to assist them in their journey to the afterlife. After the arrival of the Catholic missionaries their traditions and beliefs were merged with those of the indigenous people, and the festivities were moved to coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day, Nov 1st and Nov 2nd.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

 

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

The festivities have evolved over the years and differ from region to region. Some of the most popular ones include altars in honor of loved ones who have passed, preparing the dead’s favorite foods, and gathering at the cemetery to decorate a loved one’s grave, share a meal and reminiscence. My favorite tradition is the elaboration of the altars. The symbolism incorporated into the altars is so rich and meaningful that it truly honors the dead, those we keep in our hearts, but somehow with the passing of time fade in our memories.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Every altar has several key symbols which are:

water– as an offering to the soul to quench their thirst in their long journey

salt– as a symbol of purification and to preserve the body so it will not wither

fire– to represent the light of the faith and guide the spirits in their journey

incense– to elevate our prayers to God in heaven

flowers– marigolds, their color represents the radiance of sunlight and life

bread– as a symbol of the body of Christ, usually round loaves with topped with “bones” and known as pan de muerto

a picture of the person who the altar is dedicated to

religious images– to symbolize God as an intermediary between the living and the dead

the favorite foods and drinks of the departed– to delight the souls who will be visiting (the most common being Mexican hot chocolate, tequila, atole, mole, tortillas and rice

candy skulls– the indigenous held the skull as symbol of death being a part of life

tissue paper banners– purple to symbolize christian mourning and orange to symbolize Aztec mourning

fruits and vegetables– an offering from the earth

personal objects of the person being honored– to accompany them on their journey back

a dog– to protect and guide the spirits.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Every year we make an altar in our home to a loved one lost. It is our own special way of introducing our deceased loved ones to our children. We talk about the things that they liked to eat, do, and why they are important to us. On November 2nd we say a prayer for them, and keep hoping for the day we will be reunited in the afterlife. For years now, we have also been attending the Day of the Dead Festival in Oceanside, CA. The festival takes place in the Mission San Luis Rey. There are a variety of traditional foods such as tamales, tacos, tortas, aguas frescas, and pan de muerto. There is also face painting, sugar skull decorating, and regional dances. However, the highlight of the festival is the showcase of the altars, some representing various Mexican states and built by whole communities and families.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Out of all the wonderful Mexican traditions, the Day of the Dead might be the one that still holds firm to its pre-Hispanic roots. The loved ones lost, who we cannot see or hear, make themselves present in our homes, share our food, and partake in the rejoicing of life and the conquest of death.

Sources:

Los Dias de Los Muertos, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian and National Museum of American History, 2010

Simbolismos en el altar del Dia de los Muertos, Tanatologa Aida Maria Castro Morales, 2007 (http://www.slideshare.net/internatoni/simbolismos-en-el-altar-del-da-de-muertos)

The Recipe: Vegan Day of the Dead Bread (Pan de Muerto)

This recipe might be better than the non-vegan version, according to my husband. I have substituted the eggs with potatoes, resulting in a moist, soft, and sweet bread. It is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate or coffee.

pan-de-muerto2

Bake at 350F for 40- 45 minutes. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar.

pan de muerto

 

pan de muerto
5 from 4 votes
Print

Vegan Day of the Dead Bread

This vegan day of the dead bread or pan de muerto is tender, sweet, and delicious. Perfect for dipping on hot chocolate.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword day of the dead, pan de muerto, vegan
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 day 45 minutes
Servings 4 loaves
Author Dora Stone

Ingredients

  • 1 pack (.25 oz) Active dry yeast
  • ½ cup (3.5 oz) Almond milk, room temperature, 3.5 oz
  • 3 1/3 cup (17.5 oz) Bread flour
  • ¾ cup (5.5 oz) Sugar, granulated
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Orange zest
  • ¼ cup Orange juice
  • ¾ cup (6 oz.) Potato, Yukon gold, cooked, mashed
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp. (4 ¼ oz.) Vegan butter room temperature, cut into 1 inch pieces,

Topping

  • 2 tbsp. Vegan butter, melted
  • ½ cup Sugar, granulated

Preparation

  1. In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the almond milk and add 2 tbsp. of the flour. Whisk to incorporate and let rest in a warm place for 20 min.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer, with the dough hook, combine the dry ingredients: the rest of the flour, salt, sugar, and orange zest. Mix.
  3. Add the wet ingredients: the orange juice, mashed potato, and yeast-flour mixture. Mix on low until the dough begins to incorporate.
  4. Add the ½ cup + 1 tbsp. of softened butter little by little and increase speed to medium. Mix for 15 min. until the dough has come off the sides of the bowl and is stretchy but not sticky.
  5. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and fold the side over unto each other and flip. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  6. The next day take the dough from the fridge, remove the plastic wrap and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place (70-75F) until the dough comes to room temperature, about an hour.
  7. Take a piece of dough, weighing about 3 oz., and set aside. Divide the remaining dough into four pieces. Roll them tightly into rounds and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment. Press down on the rounds lightly.
  8. Use the reserved dough to make 4 small balls the size of a quarter and set aside. Use the remaining dough to roll out eight strips long enough to cover the rounds. Place two strips on top of each round forming an x, use your fingers to press lightly on the strips to form knobs, they should resemble bones. Repeat the process with the rest of the rounds.
  9. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 ½ hrs. in a warm place (70- 75F) or until double in size.
  10. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350F. Place the small balls in the center of the rounds with a little bit of water. Bake for 20-30 min. until the rounds have become a rich brown color. Cover with foil and bake for 10 to 15 min. more, until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 190F. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.
  11. While the bread is still warm melt 2 tbsp. of butter and brush the bread with it. Sprinkle evenly with sugar.
  12. Let bread completely cool before eating.

Recipe Video

Chef's Notes

My favorite vegan butter is Earth Balance. This recipe is a combination of my dad’s recipe and Fanny Gerson’s method for Pan de Muerto in My Sweet Mexico.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.