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Magic Cake With Autumn Apples

Custard Cake With Autumn Apples, also known as Magic Cake, requires one simple batter which uses only six ingredients! The apples are a little added bonus!

a slice of custard cake on a white plate

All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC

Magic Cake With Autumn Apples

So What The Heck Is Magic Cake?

This weirdly simple, one-bowl recipe yields an astonishing-to-see and even more astonishing-to-taste three layer cake. Sometimes referred to as Miracle Cake, there are no bizarre ingredients, and no difficult techniques. By combining eggs, flour, sugar, milk, vanilla, and butter in a precise order, a stunning 3 layer magic cake is achieved in just about one hour.

First let me say this exercise in baking isn’t really about having to be a good baker at all. No, no…this one is about science. And you all know that I point out REALLY COOL FOOD SCIENCE whenever possible! You see, in a Magic Cake, the batter consistency is more liquid to less dry ingredient. Once popped into the oven, the cake is baked over a longer period and at a lower temperature. Quite literally, the cake separates into three layers on its own.

Layer 1: a dense, fudge-like bottom layer abundant with sweet fall apples
Layer 2: a light delicate creamy custard layer center similar to pudding
Layer 3: a lovely top layer crumb that is familiar if you’ve ever tasted a Genoise sponge

a magic cake, with a red towel

Magic Cake With Autumn Apples is altogether decadent and requires one simple batter which uses only six ingredients!

My Ukrainian great grandmother made something called Sharlotka more than any other cake. Along with a few apples, the batter is made all in one bowl with eggs, flour, sugar, whole milk, vanilla, and butter. The recipe is very easy, so I imagine this is why she adopted it. Well, that and it was her heritage. I believe this cake reminded her of home.

Do You Have What’s Needed For A Magic Cake With Apples? Check The List!

large eggs
granulated sugar
unsalted butter
vanilla extract
all purpose flour
whole milk
powdered sugar
Granny Smith apples
lemon juice

How This Recipe Came About…

Since no recipe was left for me to follow, I have simply assembled Sharlotka from recipes I found online. Until that is, I found a recipe for Magic Cake. To my surprise, the method is largely THE SAME! And the way this cake batter separates as it bakes is where the real magic happens.

I bake my Magic Cake as I would my Sharlotka – in a well-buttered springform pan. When the cake comes out of the oven it has a crisp and crackly crust on top that softens as it sits. Just before serving, I cover the cake with powdered sugar for some sweetness on top. No folks, cake recipes like this are not to be skipped over…

a magic cake, with a red towel

How To Make A Magic Cake?

How Do I Separate Eggs So I Do Not Get Yolk Into The Whites Accidentally?

The “hardest” step in this recipe is separating the eggs. But do start with room temperature eggs. I separate by using my fingers to allow the whites to run through, the in-tact yolk left in my hand. Normally, I separate eggs by alternating the yolk between each half of the shell, but for this I do it by hand because I absolutely want uncompromised egg whites.

How Do I Prep The Apples For A Magic Cake?

Your apples must be peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. I give them a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and toss them so the majority are coated. This helps to avoid them browning.

Can I Use Baking Spray?

Use butter. Hey, you’re already planning to gobble up a piece of cake, so you may as well not worry about the calories and just use the right method for the pan. You’ll need a well-buttered (unsalted butter) springform pan for this cake, 10-inch or 12-inch but no smaller.

I butter and line the bottom with a parchment circle cut to fit the diameter of the pan. Alternatively, you may use an 9 x 9 – inch baking dish for a square cake.

What Can I Use To Easily Place The Springform Into And Get The Springform Out Of The Oven?

I find this cake is easiest when cleanup is easiest. Have a baking sheet at the ready along with a piece of aluminum to fit loosely underneath the springform. If you spring any leaks, you’re not going to have a mess to tend to with the aluminum ‘keeping it all in’ neatly like a levy.

pieces of apple in a springform pan

Is A Magic Cake Recipe Really A One-Bowl Recipe?

Yes but no. Haha, I say this because you cannot use the same bowl or beaters laden with cake batter to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Therefore, two bowls.

Grab your largest mixing bowl. This recipe yields quite a lot of batter, so you’ll need the biggie for the batter. To this bowl, add the yolks and the sugar. Mix. Then in goes the butter which you’ll have melted and cooled, and then the vanilla extract. Mix again. Last comes the sifted flour and warmed whole milk.

A smaller mixing bowl may be used to beat the whites. Then the whites are folded gently into the cake batter in 1/3 increments.

How Do I Measure The Right Amount Of Flour For Recipes?

So, this is one of those “things” you learn along the way when you learn to bake. I am talking to all of you who rock the box cake mixes but seldom bake from scratch. This is good to know – 8 ounces refers to 8 FLUID ounces. That is one cup.

When we talk flour, it must be added to recipes according to it’s weight. The weight of flour for 1 cup is 4.41 ounces or 3/4-cups. For this recipe, I specify 3/4 cup flour. By weight, it’s technically a full cup. Confused? Just measure 3/4 of a cup, level off using the back side of a butter knife, and sift…

I measure and level my flour before I begin this recipe. In fact, I measure it twice, once before leveling and again after sifting once. Then, I sift the measured and leveled flour into the bowl with the wet ingredients. The milk follows gradually as I mix the batter until smooth.

hands adding batter to a springform pan

How Do I Assemble A Magic Cake Within The Spring Form Pan?

Press the apples into the bottom of the springform pan. They may be loose, but they must fall beneath the inside middle of the springform pan if you were to imagine a line going all the way around.

What To Do With The Egg Whites?

The batter is complete all but for the egg whites. I save this step until last. It is important to beat the whites to stiff peaks.

Now fold the egg whites into the batter, one third at a time, until just incorporated. You needn’t worry if there are a few egg white lumps or streaks in the batter.

How Long Does A Magic Cake Bake?

The lot is poured over top of the apples and popped into a low oven for anywhere from 50 to 70 minutes. As a rule, I begin checking for doneness at 50 minutes. The top will be slightly hard, nicely golden brown, and will not “jiggle” when you gently shake the springform.

If the top appears golden but the cake is not yet set, cover loosely with foil and return to the oven, 10 minutes at a time, until it no longer jiggles.

a slice of custard cake on a white plate

What Is The Best Kind Of Apple To Use In A Custard Cake Recipe?

I doubt there is an apple that wouldn’t be good in this cake, however there are just a couple that are that much better. I do not consider any varieties other than Granny Smith or, if you have heirlooms growing, a Winesap.

Both of these varieties are best for baking because they stand up. That is to say, they will not become mush during the bake. Additionally, either variety becomes sweet-ish as it bakes. Their lack of oomph is absolutely perfect for this cake, as this is meant to be an only mildly sweet cake.

Modifying The Norm To Make It Not Entirely Average…

This is a basic method for a vanilla magic cake to which I am adding fall apples for an apple magic cake. If you were inclined, this could very easily be made to suit an almond magic cake with the addition of real almond extract and sliced almonds as garnish.

I’ve also tried recipes for lemon magic cake and a raspberry magic cake. I’ve yet to assemble a chocolate magic cake for a black magic cake, but doesn’t that seem appealing for Halloween?

Everybody is harvesting just now. I have neighbors with pear trees and berry patches where those fruits will need to be used fairly quickly. Consider them for this dessert.

Treat the pears as you would the apples in the recipe card. For any kind of berry, add them atop the batter before baking. They will largely remain slightly sunken at the top but some will sink deeper which is very pretty when this cake is cut and plated.

a magic cake, with a red towel

Can I Make This Magic Cake Without The Apples?

Sure can, and the recipe card measurements are exactly the same. If you won’t be using apples, you will not require lemons for juicing either. I would keep all exactly the same except begin checking for doneness at 40 minutes rather than 50 minutes.

Can A Magic Cake Be Made Ahead?

Yes, but not by days, rather only by hours. This Magic Cake With Apples is one of those same day recipes meaning you bake it and eat it on the same day.

If planning to serve this Magic Custard Cake With Autumn Apples as an after dinner dessert, bake in the morning to give the cake ample time to cool. This cake must be 100% cooled before you slip a knife in, otherwise its walls will collapse.

hands dusting powdered sugar on a magic cake

Can A Magic Cake Be Frozen?

No. The consistency of this cake, especially that luscious custardy center, does not lend itself well to freezing. Do however refrigerate any uneaten leftover portions.

How To Serve A Magic Custard Cake?

I go to town when dusting this cake with confectioner’s sugar. Then I slice and plate it and add more confectioner’s sugar. I like to top it with only a dollop of whipped cream IF I feel like I must add anything at all. Really, it needs nothing.

If you really felt the need to garnish, sautéed apple pieces with vanilla bean in butter would be out of this world! Also, any kind of fresh berry such as strawberries or blackberries. Sugared edible blossoms would be exquisite as would sliced almonds dusted with powdered sugar…

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Magic Cake With Autumn Apples

Magic Cake With Autumn Apples requires one simple batter which uses only six ingredients!
Print Recipe Pin Recipe Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: 3 layer cake, apple, bake, baking, best magic cake, custard, custard cake, fall desserts, layer cake, magic cake, Sharlotka
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 314kcal
Cost: $.64

Want a bigger or smaller serving size? Hover over the serving size and move the bar until you get the number of servings you want. Easy.

Equipment

  • 10-inch or 12-inch non-stick springform pan
  • baking sheet
  • electric hand mixer
  • large mixing bowl
  • small mixing bowl
  • rubber spatula for folding in the egg whites

Ingredients

Ingredients for Magic Cake With Autumn Apples

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 medium apples Granny Smith or Winesap varieties work best
  • juice of half a lemon
  • Confectioner's sugar

Instructions

The Method

  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Assemble a well-buttered and parchment-lined (bottom only) springform pan atop a sheet of aluminum foil loosely gathered around the springform and all set atop a baking sheet. Alternatively, butter a 9-inch x 9-inch baking dish. Set aside.
  • Pour the milk into a saucepan and set it over medium low heat. Stir occasionally.
  • Prepare the apples by peeling, coring, and chopping into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss in a bowl with the juice of the half lemon. Apple pieces should be coated with the juice, but LIGHTLY. You want just enough acid to keep the apple from browning, but not too much that the batter won't set properly.
  • Arrange the apple pieces in the bottom of the springform pan. They may be loose, but they must fall beneath the inside middle of the springform pan if you were to imagine a line going all the way around.
  • Separate the eggs using your fingers by allowing the whites to run through. Place the yolks remaining in your hand in a large mixing bowl. Beat the egg yolks with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. The mixture will be very light in color and should be almost double in size. Add butter and vanilla extract and continue beating for another minute.
  • After measuring and leveling your flour, hold a sifter or fine mesh sieve over the egg and sugar mixture and sift the flour into the mixture. Mix until fully incorporated. Slowly add the warmed milk. Beat until everything is well incorporated.
  • In a clean bowl using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  • Add the egg whites to the cake batter 1/3 at a time and gently fold them in. Do not fold the egg whites in completely. A few white streaks or lumps of egg white are encouraged.
  • Pour batter into the prepared springform pan. Smooth out the top making sure batter seeps in between the apple pieces. Bake for 50 minutes or until the top is lightly golden. Baking times may vary. Begin testing for doneness at 50 minutes. The top will be slightly hard, nicely golden brown, and will not "jiggle" when you gently shake the springform. If the top appears golden but the cake is not yet set, cover loosely with foil and return to the oven, 10 minutes at a time, until it no longer jiggles.
  • Cool the cake in the springform pan. First, gently loosen the clasp to create a gap between the finished cake and the inside wall of the springform. If necessary, run the back of a knife all the way around. Keep the pan in tact and cool the cake for at least 2 hours before cutting. Slicing before the cake has fully cooled will result in the cake collapsing.
  • To serve, remove the sides of the springform and place the bottom of the springform with the cake on a cake plate. Dust generously with Confectioner's sugar. Slice the cake and plate. Dust again with more Confectioner's sugar.

Notes

Please Note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not use table salt or iodized salt in any of the recipes you find on Not Entirely Average UNLESS specified otherwise.
Freezing: do not freeze this cake as its consistency will not be conducive to freezing well.
Storing: refrigerate any uneaten portions wrapped with plastic film for up to two days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 64mg | Potassium: 181mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 608IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 1mg

Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only.

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8 Comments

  1. Looks and sounds yummy. I have heard about Magic Cake, but I have never tried making it.
    Thank you for sharing your version. The added apples must be heavenly. Enjoy your week ahead.

    1. Linda, I made this cake again this weekend to much acclaim. The apples being added the first time were a last minute decision that turned out to be a lovely addition. Truth is, I was absolutely ‘channeling’ my Grandmother’s sharlotka cake! Thank you for stopping by the website 🙂 Jenny

  2. Looks delicious and sounds intriguing! Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party. Hope the rest of your week is amazing!

  3. There is a note about not substituting Table salt for Kosher Salt, but no salt listed in recipe ingredients. Is there supposed to be salt added?

    1. Hi Janice! Thank you for asking this question. To answer your question, no – there is NO SALT in this recipe. To explain, I have been doing this long enough to know that many will add salt whether I specify it or not. So I purposely add that notation regarding salt because if somebody really wants salt, it should as a rule always be Kosher salt.

  4. Absolutely outstanding, visiting from GrammyGrid #40. This is perfect, just what the Dr ordered, apples. Delicious for sure. Will pin as reference for later use.

    1. Esme, thank you! Apples are just what the doctor ordered, aren’t they? Thanks for stopping by and for mingling over on Grammy’s Grid!