I’ve always been fascinated with this Magic Custard Cake or sometimes called as Miracle Cake. I always wondered why it was called as such. Is there really magic happening in this cake? That is what I am going to share with you today.
Do you want to see a magic? Look closely at the cake and tell me how many layers you see. If you say 3, then you got it right. This cake has 3 layers. The base looks like custard crust, the middle is soft custard and the top is a foamy light cake layer. That’s 3, but guess what? This Magic Custard Cake was made using only 1 cake batter. That’s right, 1 cake batter, 3 wonderful cake layers. You might ask how so?
How The Magic Happens
I am going to keep it simple an straight forward, because this is the kind of “magic” that is not complicated. The main question is how did we managed to have 3 layers from 1 cake batter. The Magic happens inside the oven when a simple mixture of flour, eggs, and butter is mixed together to create a beatiful looking 3 layer cake.
Top Layer: This layer is a very thin, golden brown and airy almost like a texture of a thin angel food cake. This layer came from the process of whipping egg whites before folding it with the cake batter. The airy bubbly texture that floats on top of the batter is what turned out as the golden brown layer of the cake.
Second Layer: This layers a custardy texture, creamy and slightly like a flan. This layer came from the main cake batter, flour, egg and butter. The custard texture is mostly attributed to the mixture of milk and egg, like when making a flan.
Third Layer: The base layer is like a dense custard crust but not close to being a cake. This layer came out not only from the second layer but most especially was the product of low baking temperature and long baking time. These two factors gave the ingredients, (mainly the custard cake batter) the time to allow the flour mixture to settle at the bottom to create the crust. As the baking progresses, the flour separates from the custard as settles at the bottom thus forming a crust.
5 Tips to Re-create the Magic Every time
There you go! Mystery solved. Now, to make sure that you can create the same magic every time, here are few simple tips to remember.
- Use the right pan size: For the layers to happen, you will need to use a pan size that is not to wide. At least for the measurement of this recipe, the layers are more evident when made in an 8×8 (2-inch deep) square pan size . So use the right pan size to make those layers appear.
- Cream the sugar, butter, and eggs: It is very important to make sure that the batter is creamed properly, and by properly I mean the cake batter should be light, fluffy, silky smooth and pale in color. This might take a while, but take your time and stop only when you reach this stage, somewhat around 5- 8 minutes. This step also affects the foaming of the top layer.
- Stir in the egg white: Gently stir in the whisked egg whites until the egg whites is almost fully incorporated. You want the batter to have a somewhat smooth texture, no cloudy lumps of egg whites on top as this will cause a cracked uneven top layer.
- Low temperature, long baking time: Slow baking, do not rush the process. As I explained above, the low temperature and slow baking is key to getting the 3 layers in this cake. So be patient.
- No toothpick test: Unfortunately, the toothpick test do not work for this cake as the center will most likely come out wet. So how do you know when it is done? The top layer will turn out golden brown in color, and when you push the pan the batter doesn’t wiggle anymore.
- Let the cake rest: However excited you are to eat it, I often find it best to let rest for few hours to let the layers develop and settle. Allowing the cake to rest will allow the bottom layer to firm up, the custard layer to thicken. I usually make this ahead of time and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. At least 2-4 hours in refrigerator if you do not have time to leave it overnight. Worst comes to worst, at least let the cake cool completely before cutting. Refrigerator is your best friend in this stage.
Now the magic happens when this goes into the oven. The cake was baked in a low temperature (325F)for a long period of time (1 hour). The low temperature and low cooking process it the key to making the magic happens. By doing this the batter will have time to relax, the flour will slowly starts to separate from the mixture and it will start to settle at the bottom this creating the base custard crust. When the flour separated, the custard mixture, mostly the egg, sugar and milk mixture stays above it thus making the second layer of cake, the soft custard. Then as the baking continues, the foamy top starts to dry out, almost like a thin sponge layer and that became the top layer of the cake.
1 cake batter, 3 different layers of cake. Magic! Look at the layers of this cake, one would think that this cake was made from 3 different cake batter. The base of the cake has a thin crust similar to a pie crust. The middle layer is like a custard filling, and the top layer of the cake is like a sponge cake. Amazing!
- 4 large Eggs, separated at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated Sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted Butter, at room temperature – cut into cubes
- 3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour – sifted
- 2 cups Milk, lukewarm
- 1teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Icing Sugar – for dusting
- Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch square cake pan and line with parchment paper.
- Warm milk in microwave, about 20 seconds then set aside.
- Custard Mixture: In mixing bowl, Add egg yolks and sugar and beat until smooth, creamy and pale yellow in color (about 3-5 minutes). Gradually add cubed butter and continue mixing for approximately 2-3 minutes on high-speed. Mix in flour until incorporated. Slowly add the milk and vanilla, beating at low-speed. Make sure there are no lumps of flour in the mixture. Use a strainer to make sure the batter is smooth with no lumps.
- Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites on high-speed until soft peaks are formed.
- Gently stir in egg whites to the custard mixture, 1/3 at a time and stir. The batter will be quite thin and foamy on top. Make sure that there are no cloudy lumps of egg white as it could cause the top layer to crack. Pour batter into prepared cake pan.
- Bake 50-60 minutes or until top is lightly golden and firm to the touch. The batter should not wiggle when you push the pan back and forth.
- Cool: Takeout from the oven and let cool completely. Transfer into a flat surface, using the extended parchment paper to lift the cake. Dust top with icing sugar. Cut and serve.
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