Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Magic Cake: All the cool kids are doing it! (the nuttier version)

It's magic.

But is it SAFE? Magic could be dangerous.

How can it not be safe? It's CAKE. No one's going to turn into a frog.

And all the cool kids are doing it!

And I wanna do it too! Just like the cool kids!

Well, okay, then.

I'd been seeing photos and posts about something called "Magic Cake" and I have to tell ya, I was intrigued. You mix a bunch of stuff, toss it in a pan, and it separates into different layers all by itself. Whoo hoo! Magic Cake!

Sort of like those old Bisquick recipes, but without the Bisquick. Okay, maybe more science than magic going on. But it's still pretty cool.

I made a slight tactical error by getting the recipe from a blog other than the original source blog. The one I chose probably wasn't the best version. It still worked, but now that I've made it once, I can see how important the technique is. That's where the other blog steered me just little bit wrong.

The other problem was that my large eggs looked more like medium eggs. I checked the box and they were supposed to be large, but they were a little ... medium-ish. But still, the recipe worked.

And then, I decided to shake things up a bit. I added some hazelnut flour. I knew it wouldn't affect the :formula, so it wasn't all that risky. I was curious where the nuts would end up in the finished cake. Would they spread throughout the cake, or would they show up in just one layer?

It turns out that the nuts ended up mostly in a layer between the custardy layer and the cakey top layer. A few bits were scattered around, but more of them were in that layer.

And since I used nuts, I used almond extract instead of vanilla.

I have a few ideas for tweaking this recipe, but meanwhile, here's my ingredients, along with what I think is the correct technique based on the video on the original site. You really ought to watch the video before you make this, so you can see exactly what this is supposed to look like at each stage.

Almond meal would also work in this, but it wouldn't be quite as visible, if that matters.

Magic Cake, the Nuttier Version
Adapted from Pasteles de Colores
Recipe adaptation © by www.cookistry.com. Do not republish without permission.
4 room temperature eggs, separated
1 tablespoon water
150 g sugar (2/3 cup granulated or 1 1/5 cups confectioner's sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter. melted and somewhat cooled (not hot)
4 ounces flour (about one cup, measured lightly)
1/2 cup hazelnut flour
2 cups milk at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon white vinegar

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and spray an 8-inch square pan with baking spray. The video showed a glass pan.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks, water, sugar and salt until the mixture is light in color and thickened. Add the butter and beat until combined.

Note: on the original page, the writer said she used icing sugar (confectioner's) instead of regular sugar, which suggests that she's following someone else's recipe that had called for the granulated sugar. I used regular granulated sugar. I might use confectioner's next time.

Add the flour in two or three additions, beating it in well each time. Beat in the hazelnut flour.

Add the milk and extracts. The mixture will get loose and sloppy. That's fine. Beat it until it's smooth.

In a very clean bowl with very clean beaters (the tiniest bit of yolk or fat will thwart your efforts to get those eggs beaten properly), beat the egg whites and the vinegar to stiff peaks.

Add the whites to the yolk mixture in several additions.

In the video, this was done with one of the beaters from the mixer. A whisk would also work. But gently. This is a point where watching the video is a good idea. Folding stiff egg whites into a wet mixture is sort of futile. Breaking those eggs up with a whisk or beater does the job much better. BUT you don't want to beat the whites into the mixture completely.

I'm thinking that next time I'll add some of the yolk mixture to the whites to loosen them up, then add the whites to the yolks. We'll see how that works. Or doesn't.

This isn't be like a cake batter. It's pretty wet. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour or until the top is browned and the cake is jiggly but not sloshy.

Let the cake cool COMPLETELY. Give it three bours. I don't suggest trying to turn this out of the pan, but if you cut into squares you should be able to take neat squares out of the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar right before serving.

Since this cake is more custard than cake, I'm guessing it's best served refrigerated. And to be honest, I thought it tasted best when it was cold.
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