I am not a natural born baker so I have to rely on foolproof sweet dishes that can withstand my incompetency. This cake is more like Crème Brûlée as it has a wonderful wiggle. The magic of the cake is that you make one batter and as it cooks it separates into 3 layers; a pasty-like base, custard centre and cakey top. The rich cake needs a bright finish so grating over lemon, lime or orange zest brings the whole thing to life. *Key Tip* Make sure you let the cake cool completely in the tin before lifting it out to cut.
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter
130g icing sugar
280g eggs at room temperature (approx. 4 large eggs)
1 tbsp caster sugar
115g plain flour
pinch of salt
to finish: grated lemon, lime or orange zest and icing sugar to dust
- Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (150°C Fan) ensuring the shelf is in the middle of the oven. Line a 20cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper.
- Warm the milk and vanilla in a saucepan over a medium heat until it is just above room temperature. Cut the butter into cubes then melt gently in the microwave (so that the butter doesn’t split).
- Separate the egg whites and yolks then sift the icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Use an electric whisk to combine the sifted icing sugar and the egg yolks together then stir in the melted butter.
- Sift the plain flour into the batter and stir then gently pour in the warmed vanilla milk. This is a very wet batter so don’t be alarmed.
- Put the egg whites into a clean mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt then use clean electric whisk beaters to beat to stiff peaks then add the sugar and whisk again until it’s glossy.
- Gradually stir the egg whites into the batter until it’s smooth then pour into the prepared tin.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes checking that the top isn’t burning (which is why you don’t want the oven shelf too high). When cooked the cake should wiggle when you jiggle it; if it’s too loose pop it back in the oven.
- Once the cake is cooked let it cool completely before removing it from the cake tin. Once it’s cooled cut into squares then dust with icing sugar and grate over some citrus zest.
*Notes* Letting the cake cool completely is essential. I cut the edges off to photograph the cake but it’s not necessary and the edges are delicious. The cake will keep in the fridge for 48 hours but it’s at its absolute best on day one. Add some cream and fruit to turn it into dessert.