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LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Quinceanera Cake

An elaborate Quinceañera cake. (Don’t worry, the one you’ll make here is much simpler!) Image source. About the photograph


For the batter:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated into whites and yolks
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the tres leches:

  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon rum

For the icing:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 5 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons of water


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix 1/4 cup of sugar and the five egg yolks for five minutes. Carefully fold in the milk, vanilla, baking powder, and flour. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and another 1/4 cup of sugar until very foamy and glossy. Carefully fold into the cake batter. You don’t want to lose too much of the air in the egg whites by stirring it vigorously. Pour into a greased 13×9 inch cake pan and bake from 40 to 50 minutes in the oven until done. Carefully place the cake into the oven, again to avoid having it fall. When done, transfer the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely. Move it to a platter and pierce the surface with a fork all over so the syrup will be absorbed. Don’t be discouraged about the appearance; it will be covered with frosting later.
  3. Now proceed with the milk syrup (tres leches). Mix together 1 can evaporated milk, another can sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup heavy cream. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of quality rum or even añejo, spoon over the cake until it is absorbed.
  4. The frosting resembles a meringue, and is called creole icing. For this you will need 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, 5 more egg whites, 2 tablespoons of water. Cook 1/4 of a cup of sugar with the water until a syrup is formed. Allow it to simmer, but do not let it boil. Beat the egg whites, 1/4 cup of sugar and the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites in a small stream, until cool. Spread over the cake and refrigerate.