This lemon magic cake will surprise you, it looks complex, but it is very easy to make. With a single batter, you make two layers lemon custard cake, that is magic! Baked in bain marie inside a Bundt pan, when ready, turn it upside down. On the bottom layer you have a fluffy cake and on the top layer a luscious custard layer of lemon pudding. Fill the hole with fresh strawberries and serve this classic magic cake.
This fun cake is magic because you make only one batter, but while it cooks, it splits into two separate layers: a sponge cake at the bottom and a creamy pudding on top.
Actually, it is the opposite as you then turn the cake upside down on the serving plate.
The flavor and texture are so lemony, creamy, and soft, all lemon lovers will go for second servings.
But be careful, to have perfect results follow the recipe exactly without making any variations.
You risk having a liquid pudding running out of the serving dish once you flip it over.
This homemade magic custard cake needs simple ingredients and you probably already have them in your kitchen:
- 3 tablespoon - 45 g of butter
- 1 ½ cups - 300 g of caster sugar
- 3 tablespoon of flour
- 6 separate eggs
- 3 lemons
- 3 cups - 700 ml of milk
Pans you need to make this cake
Before you get started, check you have suitable pans to make this dessert.
It is cooked in the oven in a water bath.
You will need a Bundt pan where you pour the cake batter and a larger pan to fill with water and place the bundt pan inside.
The complete list of tools I used to make this recipe is in the recipe card below.
Making the batter
- Mix sugar and flour in a large bowl
- Add the melted butter and stir
- Grate in the mix the lemon zest
- Then add the fresh lemon juice and stir
- One at a time add the egg yolks
- Last, add the milk and mix the liquid batter
- With an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks at medium-high speed
- Gradually add the egg whites to the lemon mixture
- Whisking them by hand very gently until all the small lumps of egg whites are gone
Baking in Bain Marie
- Pour the liquid mixture into the round cake tin (10 in - 25 cm) with a hole in the middle
- In a larger pan ( 12 in - 30 cm) with high borders, pour some boiling water just slightly under half in height. If you fill it too high, the water will spill inside bundt pan with the lemon batter
- Place the pan with the lemon batter inside the large one
- Bake the lemon cake in this water bath in a preheated oven at 400 F - 200 C for 45 minutes
- Once the cake is ready and the top golden brown, remove it from the water bath and let it cool down completely
- When the cake cools down at room temperature, turn it upside down on a serving dish and keep the lemon cake in the fridge until serving
- Fill the center hole with fresh fruits; strawberries are my favorite
When to serve this dessert
This perfect dessert is so fresh and light that it can be served at the end of any festive meal.
However, I find it absolutely perfect for a seafood dinner.
The lemon helps to cleanse the palate, leaving a fresh citrusy taste in your mouth.
You can fill the holes with any other fruits you fancy, mixed berries, mango, and papaya for a tropical tone, a mix of melons for summer, or a mixed fruit salad.
It should be served cold, so make sure it stays in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving it.
I serve it with homemade strawberry liquor, a perfect combination of pale yellow and ruby red to end a lavish meal.
This cake is perfectly balanced, do not change any ingredients or cooking method if you want it to come out as in the picture.
Carefully read the Notes on the recipe card for extra tips.
The origin of this magic recipe
Although this recipe is not Italian, I grew up with this lemon magic cake. It is an English recipe my aunt Benella has made several times during our summer family reunions.
While studying in Oxford, she met my uncle Alberto (my mother's brother) in the '70s. It was my uncle's favorite dessert, and the English landlady handed the recipe to my aunt as a good wish for the new couple.
This lemon pudding made its magic, zia Benella has been a great addition to our family, and we all blessed her cooking. Thank you, zio Alberto..and the landlady!
Apparently you can make this magic cake with different flavors, but I never tried it.
More fruits recipes you may like
Here are more desserts made with fruits:
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📋 Lemon Magic Cake Recipe Make 1 Batter Get 2 Layers
Making the lemon batter
- Mix together sugar and flour1 ½ cup caster sugar, 3 tablespoon flour
- Add the melted butter and stir3 tablespoon butter
- Grate in the mix the zest of 3 lemons3 lemon
- Then add the juice of the 3 lemons and stir3 lemon
- One at a time add the egg yolks6 egg yolk
- Last add the milk and mix3 cups milk
Adding the egg whites
- With an electric whisk, whip the egg whites until firm6 egg white
- Gradually add the egg whites to the lemon mix whisking them by hand very gently
Baking the lemon cake
- Pour the mix into a round pan (10 in - 25 cm) with a hole in the middle
- In a larger pan ( 12 in - 30 cm) with high borders pour some boiling water, just slightly under half in height. If you fill it too high the water will spill inside the lemon batter
- Place the pan with the lemon batter inside the large one
- Bake the lemon cake in this water bath in a hot oven at 400 F - 200 C for 45 minutes
Serving the lemon cake
- Once the cake is ready, remove it from the water bath and let it cool down completely
- Once cold, turn it upside down on a serving dish and keep the lemon cake in the fridge until serving
- To serve the lemon magic cake, fill the holes with fresh strawberries
- Buy organic lemons and make sure the zest has not been chemically treated
- Make sure your eggs are at room temperature otherwise the egg white will not get firm
- When you mix the egg whites with the rest of the batter you need to be extremely careful not to destabilize the foam. Follow the step by step video if you have never done this before
- DO NOT FILL THE LARGE PAN WITH TOO MUCH WATER. Half should be enough
- Test to make sure the smaller pan can go in without the water overflowing inside.
- Push the pan down to the bottom of the water as it will be heavier once the batter is inside.
- MAKE SURE THE WATER IS ALREADY HOT AT BOILING POINT WHEN YOU PUT THE CAKE IN THE OVEN
- The oven should be already hot at 400 F - 200 C
- Wait until it cools down completely before you turn it upside down in the serving plate.
- The cake should be served cold, leave it in the fridge at least 1 hour before serving it