3-Layer Magic Cake Is Surprisingly Simple to Make

You likely have all the ingredients on hand.

square piece of cake on a plate with a pink background
Photo: Bahareh Niati

As part of an ongoing mission to determine whether viral Internet food trends actually deliver on their promises, we've taken to testing a variety of strange creations (here's looking at you, two-ingredient Nutella brownies). So we were pleasantly surprised when the 3-layer "magic" cake turned out to be incredibly easy—just six ingredients!—and downright delicious.

How to Make 3-Layer Magic Cake

The magic happens when the cake batter separates into three distinct layers in the oven. Thanks to a low oven temperature (325 F), the liquid-y batter settles into a thick, fudgy bottom layer and a custard center. The whipped egg whites, folded into the batter just before baking, rise to the top to form a layer of delicate sponge cake.

Because the order and preparation of ingredients are crucial to success, be sure to separate your eggs cleanly—that means no yolk bits in your egg whites—and beat the whites in a clean, dry bowl (metal or copper is best).

When folding the egg whites into the batter, don't over-mix. In fact, the egg whites should make the batter quite lumpy. Finally, let the cake cool down completely before slicing it, which allows the custard to firm up so it's easy to serve.

overhead view of cake ingredients on a pink surface
Bahareh Niati

Magic Cake Recipe

  • 4 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  • 4 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F and line an 8" x 8" cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. Crack the eggs into a bowl, carefully separating the yolks and whites. Set the bowl with the egg whites aside.
  3. To the bowl of egg yolks, add the sugar and beat until the mixture turns pale yellow, about one minute.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and melted butter and beat until the ingredients are well incorporated, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Add flour and beat mixture until just combined.
  6. Pour milk in ¼ cup at a time, beating the mixture each time after more milk is added. Set aside.
  7. Take the egg whites and beat them with a mixer until stiff peaks form.
  8. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, one-third at a time, until just incorporated. Be careful not to knock the air out of the egg whites. The batter should be thin but lumpy.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
  10. Bake until the top is golden brown and the cake does not jiggle when you gently shake the tin, around 40 to 50 minutes.
  11. Once the cake cools, remove it from the pan and dust the top with powdered sugar.
  12. Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream and fresh fruit, if desired.
overhead view of multiple pieces of cake on parchment paper
Bahareh Niati

Once you've mastered this basic Magic Cake recipe, feel free to experiment with a bevy of different flavors. Adding cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin purée to the batter will yield a delicious fall-inspired treat, while tossing in some unsweetened cocoa powder and a dash of espresso powder creates a rich, chocolatey dessert that's perfect for any time of year.

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