Samantha Seneviratne's Blackberry Cuatro Leches

July  9, 2017
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 10 to 12
Author Notes

This recipe is just slightly adapted from Samantha Seneviratne's book, The New Sugar and Spice.

Sam's cake is as worthy a pedestal for your prized summer berries as pie. Because her real innovation—besides turning tres leches into cuatro leches (cream, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and, fourthly, whole milk)—is cramming halved blackberries over the top.

The high-rising cake eclipses the berries, which relax into the batter below. When the cake comes out of the oven, you poke holes all over its top and drown it in the sweet milk. It pools in the blackberries' bellies and fills all of the cake's pockets.

Chill the cake for four hours, enough time for it to become pudding-soft. Then spoon more leche on top and scatter over any lingering blackberries. You've got a cake, a custardy blackberry pie, and a pudding all in one. —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • For the cake:
  • Unsalted butter, for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 6 ounces blackberries, plus more for serving
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • For the milk-soak:
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F and butter an 8- by 8-inch baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or working with an electric hand mixer, beat together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar on medium speed until very pale and thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, halve the berries lengthwise. Now, beat in 1/3 cup of milk and the vanilla bean seeds. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  3. In a large bowl with clean beaters (transfer the batter to another bowl if necessary), whip the egg whites for about 1 minute, until foamy and white. With the mixer running, slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until you have shiny, medium-stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Stir about 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the batter, to loosen it up a bit, then use a rubber spatula to fold the remaining white into the batter.
  4. Transfer to prepared pan and place the halved berries on top. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes while you mix together the milk mixture.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the milk soak. Use a butter knife to cut around the edges of the cake. Then use a toothpick or a fork to make holes all over the top of the cake. pour about 1 cup of the milk mixture all over the cake and let it soak in. Then pour another cup over the cake. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
  6. Serve the cake with remaining mixture and more blackberries. Leftovers will keep, well-wrapped, in the fridge for up to 2 days.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Icravephilly
  • Baketress
  • Sara Nguyen
    Sara Nguyen
  • Sarah Jampel
    Sarah Jampel
  • Elle Tee
    Elle Tee

18 Reviews

Icravephilly September 4, 2018
fantastic recipe, loved, loved - I soaked a little more of the liquid in prior to chilling - perfection!
jp August 28, 2018
What would happen if I didn't separate the eggs/whip up the whites?
Natalia August 28, 2018
Your cake wouldn't be as fluffy. That's why I am eagerly awaiting a response to my egg-less option question below ..
Natalia August 27, 2018
I’d like to try to make this without the eggs. What substitute do you feel may work best?
HCR August 10, 2017
Will the milk mixture whip, do you think?
Julie July 30, 2017
I just made this with black raspberries instead of blackberries, and it was a hit! I did have to add in more than 1/3 cup of milk to my batter to get it to a consistency that would be able to fold in meringue. ...I'm not sure what I did wrong there or if the "batter" was supposed to look more like a dough at step #2. Was is doughy for other people or was it just me? Anyways, it was delicious! My friend that requested this cake almost missed it because it disappeared so quickly!
myeck July 25, 2017
Do you recommend the paddle or the whisk attachment when mixing the eggs and sugar?
Sarah J. July 25, 2017
I use the whisk attachment!
Reiko N. July 24, 2017
would blueberries need to be halved as well, if using instead of blackberries?
Sarah J. July 24, 2017
You can leave the blueberries whole. Hope you like it!
Nancy July 16, 2017
There are so many 'cup for cup' gluten free flours on the market now. Is this cake a candidate to try one since it all becomes a yummy, mushy pudding anyhow?
Jen A. July 13, 2017
Thoughts on using coconut creme instead of the condensed, and full fat coconut milk instead of the other 3 milks?? ... i.e. a dairy free option?!
Sarah J. July 13, 2017
My concern is about the sweetness, as this cake gets most of its sweetness from the condensed milk. You might have to supplement with a bit more sugar! Other than that, I think it should work. Let me know if you try!
Elle T. July 15, 2017
You can actually buy coconut condensed milk now! Saw it the other day (in a pretty mainstream food store but in the "Asian" aisle). Sorry, can't remember the brand name!
Baketress July 12, 2017
I really liked this cake. It's not too sweet, airy and the milk mixture is delicious and satisfying. I would probably add more berries to the cake next time. Other than that is definitely a keeper!
Sarah J. July 13, 2017
So glad you liked it!
Sara N. July 11, 2017
Can we use different berries instead of blackberries? That is, can we use blueberries?
Sarah J. July 11, 2017
Yes! I think blueberries, raspberries, or a mix would be good!