Lemon Magic Cake

May 11, 2013

Have you heard of magic cake? – it’s called magic cake because it’s essentially one cake batter that separates into three layers when cooked. More science than magic really, but we food bloggers like the word magic better 😉 So, I attempted to make my own magic cake this week and made a lemon version. There have been alot of magic cakes popping up on food blogs lately – chocolates ones, coffee ones, nut ones and plain old vanilla ones. I looked at a few different blogs and they are all the basically the same recipe, so I am not sure who started this whole trend. When I was making it, it reminded me a little of a soufflé. Then I wondered if perhaps it started out as soufflé recipe, that went wrong and instead of proclaiming it to be a disaster, someone called it a ‘magic cake’! It’s a fun cake to make, and it’s cool when you cut it open and see the three layers. If you like custard you are going to love this cake. The bottom layer tastes like hardened custard, the middle later is gooey custard and the top layer is like fluffy cake. The lemon helps makes it all taste light and fresh. It’s not too sweet, so they make a nice alternative to lemon bars. They taste heavenly straight from the fridge. So, why not make your own magic cake this weekend and marvel at all those lovely layers. I made this version gluten free, but normal wheat flour will work equally well.


  • 110g / ½ cup of butter
  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 drops of vinegar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 150g / 1 and ¼ cup of icing sugar
  • Zest of a lemon, finely chopped (about ½ a tablespoon)
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 120g / 1 cup of all purpose  flour/ gluten free flour
  • 480ml / 2 cups of millk
  • Extra icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 160 C / 325 F. Grease an 8 inch square tin with butter, you could equally use an 8 inch round tin.
Melt the butter and leave aside. Next, beat the egg whites and vinegar with an electric whisk, until they form stiff peaks.
In a separate large mixing bowl beat together the egg yolk and sugar with a hand whisk. Beat until well combined. Then, add the melted butter, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix together, and then add the flour, followed by the milk. It’s quite a sloppy batter, so  that’s why I recommend using a hand whisk rather than an electric beaters.

Fold the egg whites into the batter, but only fold in one third at a time. You want to fold gently, however you still want to fold it in enough to get rid of all the big lumps. Once the egg white is all folded in, pour the batter into the prepared tin and place in the oven.
Cook for 45 – 60 minutes. When cooked it should have a slight wobble in the center like jelly, but not too much of a sloppy jiggle 😉 The top should be a nice golden brown. I left mine in for 50 minutes.
Allow to cool completely for at least three hours.  Once it has cooled, place a sheet of parchment paper covered with icing sugar on a flat work surface. Using the back of a knife carefully trace around the edge of the tin to loosen the edges from the side. Then invert the cake onto the sheet of icing sugar and cut into squares.  Turn the squares sugar side up and refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • Moni

    Thank you for this recipe. I am on the lookout for gluten-free stuff as more and more people are looking for such cakes in the café where I work…

  • stastycook

    Lovely to hear from you Mona. Working on a lot of gluten free desserts at the moment and hope to have a wee little eBook coming out shortly 😉

    • Moni

      That is excellent! I would be more than interested! BTW I baked this cake with plain flour, gluten free flour, it was great either way. Then I forgot to put in the milk today (grrr), but it was still fine, although dried out rather quickly around the edges. Next time I’ll try buttermilk, just to see how it works. Also my colleagues suggested to serve this with raspberry coulis, or a layer of raspberry jelly on top. So many varieties to try! Thank you!

      • stastycook

        Great, I’ll let you know when it’s finished. Buttermilk sounds like a yummy idea. Raspberry coulis would be divine with it. mmmm

  • Muchas gracias por hacer y divulgar mi receta! desde que la publiqué en febrero de este año, está dando la vuelta a todo el mundo.

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  • HB

    Is the vinegar necessary? is it just for stiff peaks? If so i was always under the impression this could be done with a wee bit of sugar? If not, is white wine vinegar what you used?

    • stastycook

      Hi HB, I used white wine vinegar, it’s really just to fluff up the egg whites and make them stiff, so as to give the cake some form.

  • Manal Samman

    Hi, I just made popped my pan into the oven,
    but I had a question is the batter supposed to be like a cake batter or a little bit more watery?

    • stastycook

      Hi Manal. The batter will be more like a souffle batter, so a little lighter than a normal cake batter because of the egg whites. Hope it worked out well for you. Vicky

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