Vanilla Souffle Custard Cake, A.k.a. Magic Cake

by Ala
1 cake
1 hr 10 min

This week more than ever, we all need a little magic in our lives. I’ll be the first to admit that while writing and talking with friends has helped me process things, everything happening has led to more than one late-night baking session on my part this week.

But kindness begets good, and that’s how I ended up in my kitchen making this Vanilla Souffle Custard Cake at 2 AM one night. I first stumbled across the recipe at Jo Cooks, where the promise of cake, custard, and souffle all wrapped up in one snuggly pan reached out through the screen to me. The name magic cake comes from the fact that even though the dessert consists of three clearly defined layers, it only requires one batter: magic!

I’m making this cake again for both Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving this year–and if you’re a blogger, you know that repeating a recipe just because it’s so darn delicious is kinda a BIG deal. (I’m also making and sharing a CHOCOLATE version of this magic cake next week: stay tuned!) My favorite part of this dessert is the contrast in textures: the creamy, custard-y filling in the middle offers the perfect foil for an airy, light souffle layer that simply melts in your mouth. Just make sure when you make this not to completely fold in or whisk away the egg whites: the lightness of those whites, coupled with the denseness of the rest of the batter, is the key factor that will turn an ordinary cake into a magical three-layer cake (with minimal effort)!

Sending best wishes to my friends all across this country and the world round. May your Thanksgivings and holiday season be filled with love, laughter, and lots of magic cake!

Vanilla Souffle Custard Cake, A.k.a. Magic Cake
Recipe details
  • 1  cake
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 50 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 10 min
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  • 4 eggs, room temperature and separated
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups lukewarm milk
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8x8-inch baking pan and set aside.
In a metal bowl, beat egg whites with a hand mixer on low for 30 seconds, then add 1 tablespoon white sugar and continue beating on high until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, use hand mixer to beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and butter; continue mixing for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Fold in flour and salt.
Slowly beat in milk until completely incorporated.
Gently fold egg whites (1/3 at a time) into batter. Note: this will seem extremely difficult to do gently since your egg whites will float around in the batter as you fold. Don't worry: you should still see some white bits in the batter when you're finished. Be sure not to whisk the egg whites, since doing so will deflate your cake.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-55 minutes in preheated oven, or until custard layer has set and the center of the pan jiggles only slightly when shaken.
Serve warm or allow to chill overnight for at least 6 hours before dusting with powdered sugar and serving. Store leftovers in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator.
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  • Kara McLeod Kara McLeod on Aug 22, 2022

    Why wouldn't you fold the batter into the egg whites instead of trying to fold the whipped whites into the batter and dealing with the floating?

    • Ala Ala on Aug 23, 2022

      I find that doing it this way prevents the egg whites from deflating when heavy batter is poured on top, giving the cake its signature airy texture.

  • Valerie Waddelove Valerie Waddelove on Aug 22, 2022

    Has anyone tried this with gluten free 1-1 flour? Thanks...