Anyone breaking into the baking scene has probably encountered or at least heard of the infamous Magic cake. This French innovation aka Gateau Magica has captivated many bakeries including those in America with its otherwordly bizarre yet over-simplified layering processes that assemble a sponge cake with a baked custard into a fun and delicious cake. This recipe will astound up-and-coming bakers on how it got that name.

The "magic" in magic cake

A Magic cake is a French innovation that originated from the South Eastern side. The cake is actually derived from a Millasson, another gateau that featured both custard and a genoise layer.

A Magic cake has three layers which included a cream in the middle.

A magic cake is just like any ordinary cake in terms of contents. The formula includes eggs, sugar, butter/oil, milk, flavoring, and flour. Where it differs, however, is in the way its layers are made whereas they all sprang up from the batter. During a long baking process, each layer seemingly forms as if it were a work of magic, hence the name.

The secret lies in how the eggs are beaten. The yolks and whites are separated and the former is whipped with the sugar. The beaten yolks + sugar form into a thickener called a sabayon that's pale and yellow. The beaten whites form a lightener called a meringue with glossy white and stiff peaks.

Hence, the batter is both thickened and lightened simultaneously to give the cake it's patented layering. This also makes Magic cake the simplest layered dessert to have ever been invented. Viva la France!

A simpler magic cake

As it currently is, a Magic cake is an easy substitute for traditional layered cakes, but it can get even simpler by omitting fat from the formula.

Normally, it would contain butter or oil but they aren't necessary since the cake will still come out nicely. This is known as the 4-Ingredient Magic cake which will be the end result from the recipe below.

The recipe

Cake ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

The directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Butter the insides of an 8 x 8-inch round pan or baking dish and set it aside.
  2. Separate the yolks from the eggs. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until they form stiff but not dry peaks (5 min.). This is the meringue.
  3. In another bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar, then beat together until they turn pale and yellow. This is the sabayon. Beat in the vanilla extract. Turn off the mixer. Gently fold the flour by heaping spoonfuls into the sabayon with a rubber spatula. Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and beat in the milk in two additions. Gently, fold in the meringue with a clean rubber spatula in additions.
  4. Once the batter is complete, transfer it to the pan or dish. Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes or until the top turns golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and let it cool. if it deflates around the sides, don't panic. This is normal. Dust the top with powdered sugar and serve or store in the refrigerator (2 hours or more) when ready.

Serves: 8