Magic Custard Cake Three Ways

Vanilla Magic Custard Cake

After being snowed in by yet another winter storm, by now you’ve had all the French Toast you can stand. If you’ve still got eggs and milk left over from your last frantic supply run, convince your friends and family you’ve secretly got magic powers when this dubiously thin looking cake batter magically separates into three layers.

As you can see by the photos, I’ve made this multiple times for multiple hosts. You can go with the classic, dress it up for St. Patrick’s Day (while also using up your leftover bananas and pumpkin pie spices), or have fun with kids and go wild with a bright blue version. Once you’ve got the core recipe down it’s incredibly easy to customize with whatever flavors and colors fit your fancy.

So have a little fun this snow day and make yourself a deceptively easy depression era cake that your great-grandmother might’ve made when she was snowed in!

Vanilla Base Cake Ingredients

  • 4 room temp eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup/1 stick butter, melted and cooled to room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup ap flour
  • 2 cups full fat, room temp milk

Blue Curacao Magic Custard Cake Ingredients

  • 4 room temp eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup/1 stick butter, melted and cooled to room temp
  • 2 tsp extract (your choice of orange or lemon)
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp blue food coloring
  • ¾ cup ap flour
  • 2 cups full fat, room temp milk
  • blue sprinkles (optional)

Banana Spice Magic Custard Cake

  • 4 room temp eggs, separated
  • ½ cup banana puree (about 2 very ripe bananas, mashed)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup/1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract (optional
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger powder
  • ¾ cup ap flour
  • 2 cups full fat, room temp milk
  • green sprinkles (optional)

Cooking Technique (for all versions)

  • Start by separating your egg yolks from the whites. Set the yolks aside while you attack the whites with a hand mixer set to high. Yes, you’re making a meringue. Use the force (of your mixer) on the whites until they transform from a sticky liquid into snowy white peaks. Stop crying. I know they remind you of the weather outside. You won’t have to look at them for long.
  • Set the meringue aside and grab a comically oversized bowl. You’re going to need all that space. Once you dump in your egg yolks, sugar, and melted butter, it’s time for the mixer to work its magic again. Set it to high and keep beating until the mix is light and fluffy. This will probably take around five minutes. The fluffier your butter, the more your batter will separate, so don’t just haphazardly mix it a couple times with a spoon then go back to staring forlornly at the endless, monotonous snow.  
  • Once your sugared and buttery eggs have fluffed up, add any food coloring, extract, and spices you’re using. You want a strong flavor or else these bars will taste super eggy. No matter what you use, add two teaspoons of it and give the bowl a good stir.
  • Now add your ap flour. I know that doesn’t look like enough, but trust me. I wouldn’t lead you astray.  Let your mixer work its magic for another 1-2 minutes.
  • It still looks like a traditional cake batter. Ruin that effect by slowly pouring in two cups of room temperature whole milk. Carefully mix it into the batter until it’s well enough incorporated that you can use the mixer again without splashing batter all over yourself. Now give it another minute or two of electrified whirring excitement.
  • Remember the meringue? It’s time to put away your mixer in favor of a spatula. Gently fold the meringue into your soupy mess, but don’t overmix. The air bubbles in the meringue are what makes your bars rise and separate.
  • Liberally coat a 9 inch baking dish with butter and pour in your batter.
  • Bake your cake at 325F for 40-50 minutes. Start checking on it at around 30 minutes. As soon as the middle is set and no longer wobbles, take the pan out of the oven. If you overbake it you won’t get a creamy custard layer.
  • Here’s the hard part – leave it alone for at least three hours. Yes, that long. Don’t poke it or check it or cut it. That thin, wussy batter had its former life burned away and needs time to cool down and accept this new and imposing form or else it’ll fall apart. When the pan has fully cooled, you should have a dense bottom layer, a smooth custardy layer, and a thin, cake-like layer on top. If you let the bars over-cook, the custard will solidify. The end result will still be tasty, but you’ll be missing out on a decadently creamy and smooth treat.
  • Lightly coat the top in sprinkles or powdered sugar before cutting it into slices or bars.