lemongrass coconut tres leches cake

Lemongrass is amazing; it has the flavour of lemon, but in the most soft and delicate and slightly herbal way without the tartness and acidity of lemon lemon.

And so for the absolute longest time I’ve had this dream. This dream was to make a lemongrass cake that actually tasted of lemongrass.

It involved some of steeping milk with lemongrass that then went into the cake batter, or mincing lemongrass very finely or trying to grind dried lemongrass into a powder. None of them were particularly successful.

But this one was. In this adaptation of a tres leches cake, I infused the milk mixture used to soak the cake with lemongrass and it came out beautifully–well, at least in the soaked parts of the cake.

I love the taste of lemongrass with milk; lemongrass pairs well with rich and creamy things (lemongrass ice cream is very pleasant, by the way), and so this was perfect.

This recipe is adapted from the rosewater tres leches cake from Morning Brew & Tea, an absolutely delightful blog (and a bit healthier than my own, I do suspect). Keisha’s recipe uses coconut milk instead of evaporated (convenient as we didn’t have any evaporated) and a lovely match with the lemongrass I added. You can see another brilliant coconut tres leches cake from Prachi at the the Divine Spice Box–oh my, the mango!

I mixed a bit of shredded coconut into the whipped cream for texture, and used the toasted black sesame for taste–both help ground the cake which is otherwise quite light!

After reading Lili’s own work with the tres leches cake, I also realized where I went wrong–this should be done in a springform pan as it allows the milk to drain. I noticed my cake was considerably more soggy on the bottom, so next time I would be sure to use a springform. Not to mention, I could also pour the milk overtop a couple times more as the middle of the cake was most definitely not soaked!

The tres leches cake challenge is being hosted by Lili of Lili’s Cakes. So many lovely variations on the tres leches cake, so please do come by!

Lemongrass coconut tres leches cake

Borrowed and moderately adapted from Morning Brew & Tea. I really like this sponge cake; whisking the egg yolks into the whites wasn’t something I’d done before, but it turned out quite nicely and the baking powder ensures a consistent rise even when I somehow manage to flatten the egg whites with my abysmal folding abilities.

Sponge cake

135 g or 1 c flour

70 g or 1/3 c sugar

1 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

3 eggs, divided

1/4 c milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly butter and line the bottom of a 7″ cake pan with parchment paper. I also put two long parchment paper slips underneath the circle of parchment.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking powder.

Separate the whites from the yolks. Beat the whites until thick and foamy, then gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until they are glossy and have formed soft peaks.

Alternate folding in the flour and milk; I did three additions of flour and two of milk, though next time perhaps I would do two and one instead.

Scrape into the prepared pan.

Bake around 25 minutes, or until an inserted skewer is removed clean. If you’re quick, you can prepare and let the milk steep while the cake is baking.



125 mL coconut milk

125 mL milk

1/2 stalk lemongrass; top or bottom, both will work (though it’s nicer cooking with the bottom, so you’ll probably have the top half left)

75 mL condensed milk

Cut the lemongrass in half, smack firmly with the side of a knife to crush it a bit.

Heat the coconut milk and milk with the lemongrass in a small saucepan until it reaches a simmer. Cover, and let steep at least 15 to 20 minutes. If you do this beforehand, let it steep even longer!

When you’re ready to use the milk, remove the lemongrass and whisk in the condensed milk until combined. Pour the cooled milk over the hot cake, let cool, and then chill overnight.


Whipped cream with black sesame and coconut

1/2 c whipping cream

1/2 tsp black sesame seeds

2 tbsp sweetened shredded coconut

Toast black sesame seeds in a pan. Coarsely grind in a mortar and pestle.

Whip the cream to soft peaks, beat in the sesame and coconut. To assemble, remove the cake from the pan (you should be able to life it out using the parchment slips, which you can then remove). Frost the top of the cake with an offset spatula.

Serve with the excess milk from the pan.



21 thoughts on “lemongrass coconut tres leches cake

    1. Thanks! I would never have thought of this way of introducing the lemongrass flavour into the cake without the tres leches cake challenge! I’m quite happy about this part as my previous lemongrass attempts were quite unsuccessful 🙂


  1. I love your lemongrass tres leches cake!!! The sponge looks beautiful and the topping too! The toasted black sesame seeds must be lovely on it too! Another version I want to try making! 🙂 Thanks for bringing it to the challenge and providing such an interesting cake and loads of information on the process! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Most of my information on the process was in retrospect on mistakes I made…which will surely help my next attempt! And with all the tres leches cakes that have linked to challenge, I don’t know how I’ll be able to resist making another 🙂 Thanks again for hosting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re so welcome! Tres Leches cakes are tricky, aren’t they? I’m glad you’re thinking about your next one already! 🙂 I know what you mean about trying to choose one from the lovely selection! … I’m wondering whether to continue experimenting or go pretty classic and do the full cream thing next time! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Tres leches cakes require some very different considerations and techniques…part of it, I suppose, is just reframing the cake context. Your discovery that a less fine sponge is better still really stands out to me–at first as something a bit counterintuitive, but when I considered the soaking step, something that actually so much sense!
          Oh, I do love the full cream thing, and perhaps a bit too much…but as long as you share it’s perfectly fine! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I love lemon and poppy seed muffins, so I can imagine this cake tasted wonderful! It looks wonderful, moist, with a lovely porous crumb for soaking up all that milk.

    I think I’m the only one with no imagination in the kitchen who participated in this challenge. I tend to stick to recipes as they’re written and rarely experiment on my own. I’m enjoying all the variations very much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Porous is such a good description and feels like such a compliment 🙂 still, I did not manage to have milk soak right to the very centre of the cake unfortunately!
      I also think that there is so much value in following recipes–it’s how we can acknowledge all the work and testing that the author put into it, and also the best way to evaluate and provide feedback! (And may I also add that I love the creativity and care you put into your photography!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi there! This is such a great post! & I’m delighted to see that you had a bit of inspiration from my recipe! This is a great twist (especially with black sesame as that is my FAVORITE!) and your photography is very beautiful and simple 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment and your lovely recipe!! I was really happy when the tres leches cake challenge popped up as I’d been waiting for an excuse to try making one after seeing your post!
      I really like black sesame as well, and love using it here and there too 😀


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