I am not a big fan of baking things other than the occasional loaf of bread. In addition to lacking a love of sweets in general, creating cakes, pies and cookies have always presented big kitchen challenges in my experience. Perhaps my creative nature puts me at a disadvantage in the face of the exacting and scientific approach required to produce proper baked goods, but whatever the reason for my bum baking bum luck, time has taught me to leave most dessert making to the experts.

So it came as quite a surprise when I developed a hankering for a serving of the homemade “magic cake” that is taking the internet dessert world by storm. The more I read about the cult-level love for this crazy custard-like cake the more I wanted a slice of my very own.  It was an out-of-character craving to say the least.

Just in case you have you’ve missed this latest Pinterest craze, here’s the deal: A “magic cake”-whose viral popularity is largely attributed to the website jocooks.com-uses a single batter to create a cake with three distinct textural layers…a fluffy cake layer, a soft custard layer and dense more fudge like layer. To make things even more interesting any home cook can tailor a basic “magic cake” recipe to suit their personal tastes; a little research revealed chocolate, butterscotch and snickerdoodle versions of magic cake are lurking online.

Any magic cake recipe takes loose inspiration from an old fashioned chiffon cake.  First gaining popularity in the 1950’s Chiffon cakes marry batter with foam and the resulting cake is prized for its light and airy texture. While egg whites are whipped to a frenzy and gently folded into a simple batter of egg yolk, flour, oil and sugar in a chiffon cake, a “magic cake” relies on the same principles, but the ratio of liquid to batter is much more extreme. A magic cake is cooked at a much lower oven temperature than a chiffon cake giving ample time for the ingredients to do a density dance and form those coveted layers.

I am on the verge of celebrating a birthday I couldn’t think of a better reason to try making my own version of magic cake. I spruced up the batter with coconut extract and lime zest before tossing the whole lumpy mess in the oven. I said more than a few magic words before I closed the door and walked away for nearly an hour, but after the jiggly cake cooled my first cut revealed the layers I had been craving. 

I topped my magic cake with a quick blueberry compote, toasted coconut and a smattering of lime zest before digging in and I must say it made for a delicious birthday wish!

Coconut Lime Magic Cake with Blueberry Compote

For the Cake:

  • 4 Eggs, separated
  • Dash of white vinegar
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoon lime zest (from about 2 limes)
  • ½ Cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Cups whole milk, warmed to about 100 degrees

For the Compote:

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries, divided
  • ¼ Cup Sugar
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • ¼ Cup water

Garnishes:

  • Toasted unsweetened coconut
  • Lime Zest
  • Powdered Sugar

For the Cake: Preheat the oven to 315 degrees taking care to place the rack in the middle of the oven. Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of an 8×8 cake pan.  Spray the paper and sides with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Place the egg whites and a dash of vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment.  Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form-about 2 minutes. Transfer the whipped egg whites to a large bowl.  Wipe the bowl clean and return to the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Place the egg yolks and the sugar in the bowl and beat on high speed until pale yellow and well combined-about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn the mixer to medium speed. Add the coconut extract, lime zest and the melted butter to the yolk mixture in a slow stream.  Increase the speed and beat until well incorporated-about 3 minutes. Turn the machine off and add the flour. Turn the machine off and on to quickly incorporate the flour without overmixing. Put the machine on low and add the lime juice and zest to the batter.  Scrape the bowl to ensure even mixing.  With the machine on low add the warm milk to the batter in a slow steady stream until fully incorporated.  The batter will be very thin, but don’t panic. 

 Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter mixer and use a whisk to gently incorporate the whites into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining 2/3 of whipped egg whites into the lightened batter. Use gentle circular motions to mix in the whites and don’t worry if some small clumps of egg white remain in the batter. Carefully pour the cake batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 40-50 minutes until the top is golden brown and the center of the cake is slightly jiggly. Transfer the cake to a rack to cool-about 2 hours.  Place the cake in the refrigerator and allow to chill completely. 

For the Blueberry Compote: Combine ½ of the blueberries with the sugar, lime zest and water in a small sauce pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer until mixture is thick and jammy- about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and fold in the remaining fresh blue berries. Set aside to cool.  Compote may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To Serve the Cake: Cut squares from the cake and dust with powdered sugar. Top each piece with a generous tablespoon of the blueberry compote. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and lime zest.

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