Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake {gluten-free}

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Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake is a spin on the Tres Leches Cake from Central America/Mexico which soaks a delicate sponge in condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream. My version is gluten-free made with buckwheat flour and tastes just like a walnut latte in cake-form.

Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake {gluten-free}

I became 100% gluten-free eighteen months ago and pledged to convert all my recipes to gluten-free or remove them from the website. This is a huge work in progress, namely because I get distracted by new recipes and ingredient obsessions which take priority in my mind. Plus converting an original successful recipe to gluten-free takes a little bit of trial and error as I want the new and improved version to be just that – an improvement.

Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake {gluten-free}

This is where the Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake comes into play. I posted the wheat flour version of this recipe about three years ago, funnily enough, about this time in my last pregnancy. Due to feeling really rubbish in the final part of my third trimester back then I abruptly stopped posting new recipes here. Then Cole came along and I found it really hard to get back into the blog as I adjusted to motherhood so this Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake resided stubbornly at the top of my blog for about four months whilst I found a balance to posting again.

The problem was that the photos for the cake were absolutely terrible, along with a couple of other recipes posted around that time. I felt these were not a great representation of my site so I became ashamed of my blog and when my new friends wanted to see what I did before becoming a mummy I felt I had to apologise for my hard work. So this recipe, along with a couple of others, were removed from the site and languished on my to-do list to be re-posted at some point when I returned whole-heartedly to blogging. Then, as I said above, new recipes and obsessions took over, I became gluten-free so the original cake was no longer relevant and so this Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake lay dormant.

Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake {gluten-free}

Then last year I offered to bring along a cake to a weekend away with friends. I always offer since this is the ideal opportunity for me to recipe test and get a good range of feedback. Of course my friends are so nice they make all the requisite yummy noises despite how good or bad the cake is. Although I guess it’s cake and it’s homemade which can usually only be a good thing. Anyway, I decided it was time for my Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake to come out of retirement and I tweaked the recipe a little, making it gluten-free, and took it with me.

Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake {gluten-free}

It was a resounding hit and I was thrilled that I could be proud of this cake once more. This Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake had always been delicious but the gluten-free amendments took it to another level. I chose to use buckwheat flour due to its delicious wholegrain nutty flavour which pairs amazingly well with the earthy coffee and walnut notes. Buckwheat flour has a very assertive flavour but it stands up well to this intensely flavoured cake so absolutely shines here. I didn’t want to only use buckwheat flour as too much can be overwhelming so I paired it with white rice flour which doesn’t fight with the buckwheat and instead sits back happily whilst it’s friend reaps all the glory.

Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake {gluten-free}

The cake is a very simple coffee and walnut sponge which is made ultra special by giving it the tres leches treatment. The sponge is left to cool slightly after being removed from the oven and then soaked with a mixture of three milks, condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream which have been infused with cinnamon and cardamom. The cake is left overnight to really absorb all the flavour, take on a delightfully moist texture, and is then covered in a whipped coffee cream and sprinkled with caramelised walnuts.

It’s a complete treat of a cake and works well as a dessert due to its ‘soaked’ texture. I have made this cake a couple of ways and I like both, so which direction you take depends on how much you like the moistness of the cake. In my directions below I have instructed to soak the cake with the milks before cutting into squares. This means that although the cake takes on all the flavour of the milks, it isn’t as sodden in the middle, so if someone (I’m looking at my husband) isn’t a fan of the texture then he can have a piece taken from the middle of the cake. However, if you are like me and want the cake as moist as possible (since that’s the idea behind the cake anyway) then I suggest cutting the cake into squares before soaking and then slather on the whipped cream the next day onto the individual squares. Both ways are delicious but you have a choice should you require it.

Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake {gluten-free}

I am so happy to bring Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake back into play on the blog, I feel like it was definitely worth waiting for.

Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake {gluten-free}

Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake {gluten-free}

Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake is a spin on the traditional South American Tres Leches Cake which soaks a delicate sponge in condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream. My version is gluten-free made with buckwheat flour and tastes just like a walnut latte in cake-form.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 16 squares
Calories: 379kcal


  • 100 g buckwheat flour
  • 100 g white rice flour
  • 75 g walnuts toasted then ground
  • 2 tablespoons coffee powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 115 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tres Leches Soak

  • 200 g evaporated milk
  • 200 g condensed milk
  • 150 ml single cream
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cardamom pod seeds removed and crushed
  • pinch of salt

Whipped Latte Cream:

  • ½ teaspoon coffee powder
  • 300 ml whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar

Caramelised Walnuts:

  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 30 g chopped walnuts
  • pinch of salt


  • Pre-heat the oven to 170°C then grease and line an 8 inch square baking tin.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the flours, ground walnuts, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  • In a separate mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition then add the vanilla.
  • Fold in the flour mixture and mix in until just combined.
  • Pour the cake batter into the tin then place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean.
  • Remove the cake from the oven, turn out of the tin and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile prepare the soak by whisking the evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream, cinnamon and cardamom seeds in a saucepan over medium heat until it is just warm. Remove from the heat.
  • Place the cake in a dish with high sides, poke several holes into the cake with a cocktail stick then spoon the glaze over.
  • Cover the dish with cling film then refrigerate overnight.
  • Remove the cake from the fridge to take the chill off whilst you prepare the toppings.
  • Begin with the caramelised walnuts by the placing the walnuts on a baking tray in an oven pre-heated to 180°C for 5 minutes until toasted. Remove and set aside.
  • In a smallish saucepan pour the caster sugar evenly into one layer and heat over a medium heat. The sugar will slowly melt, beginning at the sides. Carefully shake the saucepan every so often so the sugar melts evenly, do not stir. As soon as all the sugar has melted drop in a pinch of salt.
  • Prepare a baking sheet with baking parchment before pouring the walnuts into the molten sugar and stir in with a silicone spatula. Working quickly make sure all the walnuts are coated in sugar then tip onto the baking parchment, spreading out into an even layer. Leave to cool then chop finely.
  • To make the whipped latte cream, whip the cream for a few minutes with the coffee powder and icing sugar until thick and cloudlike.
  • Finally, carefully remove the cake from its dish, spread the whipped cream over, cut into 16 squares then sprinkle over the caramelised walnuts.


Calories: 379kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 133mg | Potassium: 243mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 690IU | Vitamin C: 0.8mg | Calcium: 117mg | Iron: 0.8mg
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I have been using this MasterClass Non-Stick Deep Square Cake Tin with Loose Base, 20 cm (8″) for all my square cakes, brownies and bars for many years. It has a loose base so it’s really easy to remove cakes from and lovely high sides so is suitable for all kinds of recipes. It’s the tin I used in this recipe and I couldn’t recommend it more.

The buckwheat flour I have been using lately is Amisa Organic Gluten Free Buckwheat Flour, 400 g. I love the texture and flavour of it. It hasn’t been completely refined so still retains little black flecks of the buckwheat grain which improves its nutty flavour. It is also very easy to get hold of.

The links above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to click through to buy then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. I will only recommend products I use in my kitchen and love. It’s just a way for me to fund the blog so if you do click through then many thanks!!


  1. Thanks, Georgina!

  2. Hi Georgina,
    Aloha from Hawaii. I enjoy your blog, thank you.
    I’m not familiar with coffee powder. I do have coffee flour, and both fresh and freeze dried coffee granules. Do you have a suggestion for which of these might work better for the Coffee & Walnut Tres Leches Cake?
    Mahalo for the fun reading and good recipes.

    • Hi Catrinka, thank you so much for your comment! Don’t worry if you can’t get hold of coffee powder in Hawaii as a great substitute is freeze dried coffee granules. To substitute it in the sponge cake use 1 heaped tablespoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water, then cool before adding in. To substitute in the whipped cream use 1 heaped teaspoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 2 teaspoons boiling water, then cool before adding in. I hope this helps!

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