I spend enough time reading about food trends to know that when a recipe — or online chatter about a recipe — catches my attention over and over again, it’s likely our readers will be interested, too.
So, that brings me to what is called Magic Cake. The recipe here is for Vanilla Magic Cake, but there are many other flavors you can find online as well.
Why is there so much talk about this cake? Well, you pour batter into an 8-inch square pan and it comes out of the oven with three distinct layers.
Basically, there are nine simple ingredients in the batter, but the trick is to follow the directions carefully to end up with the three layers: a crispy, golden-brown light cake layer on top, a creamy custard/flan-like layer in the middle and a dense, crust-like layer on bottom.
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It’s probably not a cake for beginners to make, but it also doesn’t require any exotic ingredients or complicated procedures. I think it would make a great cake to serve for the holidays — easy to carry, cut and serve.
Holidays have you on the run? Here’s a fast recipe from Joe Gray at the Chicago Tribune:
Cook 1/2 pound spaghetti in plenty of well-salted boiling water until al dente. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 clove garlic, minced; cook, 1 minute. Stir in 1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red bell peppers, drained, rinsed, sliced in strips. Turn heat to low; stir in 4 ounces mascarpone. Add some hot pasta water to help it melt. Sprinkle on 2 teaspoons capers and fresh or dried thyme or basil to taste. Drain pasta. Stir it into skillet to coat with sauce. Makes: 2 servings.
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Vanilla Magic Cake
4 large egg yolks
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups whole milk, half-and-half or light cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Coat an 8-inch square pan that is 2 inches deep with cooking spray. Cut 2 (8-by-12- to 16-inch) sheets of parchment paper. Lay one sheet in the pan, leaving an overhang of at least 2 inches on each side. Lay the second piece on top, across the first, leaving an overhang on the other sides. These will be your “handles” when you take the cake out of the pan; set aside.
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 325 degrees. (The low temperature is important to the making of the layers.)
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand-held electric mixer or a whisk (and plenty of arm power), mix the egg yolks, sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved, very fluffy, light in texture and the mixture is a very pale yellow, 5 to 6 minutes. Do not undermix.
Continuing to mix, drizzle the melted butter into the egg yolk mixture, and mix until it is well-incorporated. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
Add in the flour and salt and mix until fully combined. Add the milk or cream and vanilla and mix them in gently and on a slow to medium speed until fully incorporated.
If you are using a hand-held mixer or whisk, pour the egg whites into a large, clean, dry mixing bowl. If you are using a stand mixer, wash and dry the bowl and whisk attachment and pour the whites into it. Whisk on high speed until the egg whites hold stiff peaks, about 2 minutes.
Add the whipped egg whites to the egg yolk and flour mixture and mix gently with a large spoon or a whisk only, about a dozen stirs, making sure to leave a distinct layer of fluffy lumps and clumps remaining at the top. While this is more brisk combining than folding one ingredient into another, do not overstir or overmix.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the edges are set, the top is a warm to deep brown, and the center still wobbles and wiggles when the pan is jiggled, 50 to 55 minutes.
Let the cake sit in the pan at room temperature until completely cooled. Loosely cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours before serving. Makes 1 (8-inch) square cake
Storage: This cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.