Rose and cardamom tres leches cake topped with ashta, a lightly-sweetened floral-scented clotted cream.

Middle Eastern desserts are some of the best in the world, with their floral syrups, nutty textures and warm spices. But when it comes to cake, tres leches is the most preferred, a Latin sponge cake soaked in three milks giving it a moist and luxurious pudding-like texture.

Middle Eastern tres leches cake 2

Middle Eastern tres leches cake

Rose and cardamom tres leches cake topped with ashta, a lightly-sweetened floral-scented clotted cream often used in Middle Eastern desserts 
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Latin, Middle Eastern
Calories 629 kcal


For the Cake

  • 6 large eggs separated
  • cups sugar granulated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cardamom ground
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whole milk

For the Milks

  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk 354 ml
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk 396 g
  • 2 cups heavy cream aka whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp rose water

For ashta Topping

  • cups whole milk
  • cups heavy cream
  • 5 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp rose water


  • chopped pistachios
  • dried edible rose petals


For the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking sheet with high sides.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low and gradually add sugar with mixer running, beating until stiff peaks form.Make sure that mixer and attachment are thoroughly cleaned and no yolks have gotten into the whites, any fat or grease will prevent the eggs from stiffening.
  • Add egg yolks one at a time, making sure to incorporate each one thoroughly. Add vanilla.
  • In a small mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, alternating with whole milk, beginning and ending with flour. Do this quickly so that batter does not lose its volume.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and place in oven.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

For the Milks

  • Whisk together the three milks and rose water until well combined.
  • Poke holes all over the cake. Pour one half of the milk mixture all over the cake. Allow it some time to absorb the milks, then pour over the remaining milk and let cool.

For the Ashta

  • In a small saucepan combine milk, cream, corn starch and sugar and begin heating over medium heat while whisking. Make sure there are no clumps before the mixture starts getting hot.
  • Bring to a boil for about a minute while whisking occasionally. The mixture should have a pudding-like consistency at this point. Turn off heat, add rose water.
  • Let cool slightly for a minute or two, then pour the mixture over the cake. It should be loose and spread easily. Cover the cake smoothly then let cake sit until cooled.
  • Once at room temperature, move the cake to the fridge. Leave it uncovered in the fridge for a few hours to let the ashta set, then cover and leave for two nights in the fridge, or at least for one night.


  • Garnish with chopped pistachios and dried rose petals and serve.
    Middle Eastern tres leches cake


This cake is best prepared TWO days in advance, and should be prepared no less than a day ahead and left to rest overnight in the fridge. 
The ashta topping can be made and used right after the cake has soaked the milks, or at a later time, but the ashta must be poured on while warm and must have a few hours in the fridge to set. 
You can also top the cake with fresh whipped cream instead of the ashta. 
Keyword Birthday Cake, Cakes, Tres Leches