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Jul 26, 2006 03:43 PM

Best Tres Leches cake in Austin

I'm looking to buy a cake to feed about 10-15 people for a barbecue this weekend. I know Habana and Chez Zee have good cakes as a dessert option, but am looking for a bakery or something similar that allows me to buy a whole cake. I had one a couple of years ago that was supposedly the best in Austin, from a bakery on the east side, but can't remember the name . . .
Thanks for your help :)

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  1. La Mexicana Bakery on S. 1st for the real deal. Also Mr. Natural has an amazing vegan version.

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    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. While I'm a big La Mexicana fan, for the tres leches, I'd suggest La Victoria, a Mexican bakery up on Burnet (between 45th and 2222). A friend brought me a big tres leches cake from La Victoria a couple years ago and it was really sinfully fabulous.

        1. You can buy a whole cake at Habana Calle 6 for take out. They sell two sizes. I think the smaller was 12X9 for $30. I thought the best Tres Leches used to be at Juarez Bakery in Round Rock. They seemed to have changed the icing though. My guess is if you as for a non-shortening based icing, you'll get something rather delectable. Closer into austin, I would check the panaderia at 9616 N. Lamar (in the same plaza as Le Soleil and Lucky Bakery.) I can not comment on the Tres Leches there. I opted for the rice pudding which scored huge points with my taste buds. Nice thing is that they have very long hours. I think 8am to 10pm daily.

          1. You *can* buy a whole cake at Chez Zee. I love their coco leches cake --- the tradtional tres leches with coconut added. Can't help you with the east side bakery --- sorry.

            8 Replies
            1. re: CindyS

              Habana Calle has the best Tres Leches cake I've had in Austin or probably anywhere.

              1. re: Torckus


                Do you remember what topping or frosting they use on the tres leches at Habana Calle? Is it whipped cream? Meringue? Cool Whip?

                Plus, if you could describe the cake in more detail, I'd appreciate it. I specifically am trying to avoid: the dry kind, which to me means any tres leches cake that is not drenched in three-milky goodness; the "light" kind that is made with skim milk and other low-fat varieties of the three “leches”; and the tres-leches-inspired kind, like a four-layer-version with raspberry jam used between the layers.


                1. re: MPH

                  There is enough milk on it that when you are done, there will be a puddle of milk on the plate. That's what makes it so good to me. No dryness at all. No healthy version either. The frosting looks like a meringue, but has a much softer consistency. Almost cream like.

                  1. re: Torckus

                    Not that I've had much experience with Tres Leches, but the Habana version is the one by which I currently measure others. Torckus isn't kidding-there's a substantial pool of sweet, milky goodness left after the cake is gone.

                    1. re: Twill

                      I recently tried the tres leches cake at Habana Calle. I think it may have been "off" that day, but I'm posting my impressions nonetheless because for all I know, what I had was close to the norm. I'm hoping that Torckus and Twill can compare their experiences with mine.

                      The slice was about 1 1/2 to 2" high and appeared to have been cut from a one-layer rectangular cake. It had a thick crust on the bottom and sides—like you'd want on cornbread—which suggested that too much grease (and/or no flour) had been used to prep the sheet pan, and that the cake was cooked at too high a temperature. The crispy edges were softened by the liquid, but that didn't make them taste better.

                      As Torckus and Twill described, Habana's cake was wet; this was not a dry version of tres leches. It also didn't seem to be soaked with skim milk, like a "light" or healthy version can be. However, I don't think they actually used the standard proportions of the traditional three milks: heavy or light cream, sometimes subbed with half-and-half; whole sweetened condensed milk; and evaporated whole milk, sometimes just whole milk. The liquid wasn't rich or thick enough to suggest the use of cream, either light or heavy, and I'm not even sure about the presence of (enough) sweetened condensed milk. I wonder if the shape of the cake contributed to this problem. Perhaps it lacked the depth and overall volume to hold the requisite richness and moisture for a good tres leches cake. One other thing that I noticed was a faint tropical-fruity flavor to the cake itself. I don't think it was the result of spiking the milk mixture with a rum or the like, which produces a different flavor. Pineapple juice was my first thought, but I ruled it out because there was no acidity. Mango, I wondered? Coconut milk and banana are common variants, but these were almost certainly not the cause of the mystery fruitiness. Maybe they just used a lot of evaporated milk, with its noticeable "cooked milk" or "canned" flavor.

                      The topping wasn't a true meringue (no body; no peaks, soft or stiff), pure whipped cream, or a white buttercream. By its texture and color—and the process of elimination—I'm guessing that it was an unsweetened Cool-Whip-type product that was dusted with red chile powder. I didn't like the chile-powder addition. By itself, though, the frosting was pretty flavorless.

                      Overall, what I tasted was like a badly-done yellow cake soaked in sweet milk, with a soft bland frosting that was sprinkled with chile powder.

                      1. re: MPH

                        MPH, we're on the same page for once! I do not understand the praise the tres leches gets at Habana, and I agree 100% with your assessment that it's "badly done yellow cake soaked in sweet milk." And the first (and last) time I had it, it tasted slightly burnt. Gack.

                        1. re: MPH

                          I dont' know, MPH. The last time I had the tres leches there (S. Congress) was pre-fire, and your description doesn't bear a strong resemblance to my memory. At that time, the mound of cake I had stood a good 3 inches tall (two of us couldn't finish it post-prandial), had a dense but spongy consistency, and the crust wasn't overbaked, as in your more recent experience. I did sense a bit of rum in the milk, but there was no chile powder dusting. Methinks I'll have to live with the memory since the reality has apparently shifted at Habana. Damn.

                          1. re: Twill

                            It does sound like things have changed since the fire. The tres leches that I tried wasn't a sponge cake at all. That spongy texture that you mention helps to hold in the liquid; you can't just soak a standard yellow cake and get the same results.

                            On the positive side, Habana's turn for the worse means that there is a new "best tres leches in Austin" out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered by us diligent chowhounds. I'll have to look forward to finding it in the future, instead of feeling bad that I never got to experience the particular deliciousness that you remember.

                            Of course, I always feel somewhat bad when I miss out on great chow. ;-)