Baking Miracles Come In Different Flavors: Magic Custard Cake

I'm one of the holdouts who has avoided joining Pinterest. But apparently this is causing me to miss out on some important stuff, like the fact that the Internets have been abuzz with excitement about a cake recipe that originated from a Spanish blogger. This recipe creates a batter that magically separates out into distinct layers during baking, to create both custard and cake. I stumbled onto the recipe after Seattle Pastry Girl wrote about it, and I knew that I had to try it. I used an adaption of the original recipe from White on Rice Couple.

Making this cake is not difficult, but the effort will generate a sinkful of dirty pans and mixing bowls. You beat egg yolks with powdered sugar until light, mix in cooled melted butter and water, incorporate flour followed by lukewarm milk and vanilla, and then fold in egg whites that have been beaten to stiff peaks (I added a little cream of tartar to the egg whites to stabilize them). The resulting batter is very runny, with some egg white foam floating on top. You pour the batter into a pan and bake (no bain-marie needed!).

I made a double batch and baked the cake in a 9-inch by 13-inch parchment-lined pan. The cake rose and cracked during baking, but settled upon cooling. I chilled the cake to make sure the custard was fully set (the cake was still quite jiggly when warm), and then I pulled the cake out of the pan and cut it. It cut easily and cleanly, and the bottom layer of custard held its shape without any problem. I sprinkled on some powdered sugar before serving to cover any imperfections in the top surface.
I thought this cake was great. The bottom custard layer was completely smooth and silky and it tasted very milky. The top cake layer was a soft and springy sponge. Overall, the custard cake was not very sweet and the flavor reminded me of the soft dough inside a cream puff. Tasters were very enthusiastic. Tom loved the cake but thought that it should be served with berries and/or whipped cream.

I was a little disappointed that the cake layer turned out so short (if you search the Internets for pictures of this cake, the ratio of custard to cake varies wildly from baker to baker). I had been in a rush when I made the cake and I didn't let my eggs come up to room temperature before beating the egg whites. I wanted to try making the cake again with room temperature eggs and I thought that I might as well try the chocolate variation of the recipe.

For the chocolate magic custard cake, I warmed the eggs in tap water before separating them and beating the egg whites. The recipe is basically the same as the original version, except that it includes cocoa powder, calls for more milk and powdered sugar, and uses brewed coffee (I used espresso) instead of water. I again made a double batch and baked it in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan.
I definitely ended up with more batter when I made the chocolate version; it almost came up to the top of the pan. Everything was taller in the chocolate magic custard cake: the cake layer, the custard layer, and the overall height. Both the vanilla and chocolate cakes had a visible ombré effect in the custard layer, with color getting darker towards the bottom, and this was more pronounced in the chocolate version than in the original. I was surprised how prominent the coffee was in the chocolate cake given the relatively small amount of espresso I added. Overall, the chocolate cake was deeply chocolatey, with an intense bittersweet flavor. I thought it was terrific.

In both versions of the cake, the light sponge cake is mostly overshadowed by the luscious custard layer. But I don't really see anything wrong with that. I don't know if I can pick a favorite between the two; they are both magically delicious!

Recipes: "Magic Custard Cake" and "Chocolate Magic Custard Cake" from White on Rice Couple (adapted from "Tarta Magica" by Mabel Mendez).


Louise said…
I'm eager to try making Lemon Magic :-)
Anonymous said…
Hi try this recipe it works as shown on the website. I tried on mon for my wedding anniversary, it turned out as promised 3 layers 3 different taste texture. If cannot find pandan leaves just add vanilla extract. Here is the link. . Trust me this recipe worth the try.