Magic vanilla cake – three cakes in one
Magic cakes are simply eggs, sugar, flour, butter and milk. The magic happens in the baking. The liquid batter divides into three layers: a dense, moist base; a delicate creamy middle and the top layer of light sponge. The yolks, beaten with sugar, butter, flour and milk, form the base and cream. The beaten egg whites form the Genoise sponge layer. Slow cooking at 150°C cooks the bottom like a cake without cooking the upper part. It is best to use a conventional rather than fan-assisted oven.
The golden rules of a magic cake are: use the only the specified tin size and ideally a silicone cake tin which is easier to turn out; gently incorporate the egg whites into the mixture with a whisk so they don’t dissolve into the batter — lumps will remain and the whites floating on the surface should be smoothed with the blade of a knife before baking; the baked cake should still have a slight wobble, which will set when chilled. The upper layer will be well baked and golden. Cooking time given is for conventional ovens — reduce temperatures by 10°C for fan-assisted; wait for the cake to set before turning it out – chill for at least 2 hours.
Magic cakes taste better after a few hours, or even overnight, in the fridge — so be patient!
It is very important to beat the yolks and sugar together well, until the mixture whitens; and then to incorporate the egg whites gently using the whisk, without mixing too much. You should still have large lumps. Serves: 8 Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking: 50 minutes plus resting time: 1-2 hours
2 vanilla pods
4 eggs, separated
150g caster sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar
1 tbsp water
110g plain flour
Pinch of salt
Grease a 24cm cake tin with butter and line with baking parchment or, ideally, use a silicone cake tin.
Split the vanilla pods down the middle and scrape out the seeds. Heat the milk with the vanilla seeds and the open pods. Bring to the boil, immediately remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least 1 hour. The more infused the vanilla, the more intense the taste.
Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Whisk the yolks with the sugars and water until the mixture whitens. Melt the butter and stir it into the mixture. Fold in the flour and salt and beat for a few minutes until well combined.
Remove the vanilla pods from the milk and pour it into the batter little by little, whisking constantly.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and, using a whisk, gently incorporate them into the batter.
Pour the batter into the greased tin, then smooth the surface with the blade of a knife and bake in the oven for 50 minutes.
When the cake comes out of the oven it will wobble slightly. Before turning it out, refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Adapted from Magic Cakes: Three cakes in one! Hardie Grant, £7.99