Magic Cake Coffeecake {gluten free option}

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Magic Cake Coffeecake
Dedication: This recipe is dedicated to Shanna, the wicked baker, cocktail maker and food blogger over at Pineapple and Coconut.

Magic Cake 2.0: Custard-Filled Coffeecake {Gluten Free}
A Dreamy, Magical Coffeecake to Celebrate Mom’s Day

As a food lover and recipe developer, I enjoy blank canvases. You know what I mean, right? Recipes and component recipes that are, at their core, plain and nothing fancy. However, with some imagination and a few ingredients, along with the magical wave of a balloon whisk “wand”, suddenly a new twist on an old favorite is born. Good examples of this are cheesecake and crème brûlée. Recipes like these just beg to be made anew…in all sorts of ways.

Recently, I accomplished the same with simple syrup. At heart, I am a purist. But, always being a purist is, well…boring. Who wants to be boring and eat or drink the same boring way? Life beckons us to experiment with new flavor combinations. For instance, with my Coconut Ginger Lime Margarita, I changed up the simple syrup and started with healthy coconut water instead of plain ol’ purified water and then created a flavorful infusion using fresh ginger and whole black peppercorns. What’s not to love?

The same goes for Magic Cake—also known as “Tarta Magica” or “Pastel Inteligente” (Cake Smart) in Spanish. Yes, just as Cookistry mentioned here, “all the cool kids” so-to-speak are baking Magic Cakes. And, the most adventuresome are putting their spin on it. Just like cheesecake and crème brûlée, Magic Cake beckons a new twist. It is indeed a blank canvas desperately in need of new flavors and textures.

The first Magic Cake I spotted was on Pinterest, here. (Just created a new pin because the other was on a secret board for recipe inspirations.) Right away, I knew this was the cake I was going to recreate leading into Mother’s Day. Yes, and I was determined to get her all dolled up for the occasion and reimagined as a breakfast indulgence—a special custard-filled coffeecake with a streusel bottom. A streusel bottom for a light, thin crust because topping Magic Cake with a heavy nut streusel is simply not possible—even with a so-called “magic” cake. (Magic does have its limitations.) Honestly, what mother wouldn’t want, for “breakfast in bed” on Mother’s Day, a slice of bewitching coffeecake with a delightfully crunchy cinnamon-nut crust, irresistible creamy vanilla custard center and heavenly moist sponge cake top? Add to that being adorned with Trader Joe’s delectable Salted Caramel Sauce and some fresh whipped cream on the side? Enter our Magic Cake Coffeecake. Mother of all swoons!

Yes, I am on a cake kick lately. No, it probably isn’t going to end anytime soon. Several are planned—whether traditional, gluten-free or grain-free. One thing is certain. I will always call for the freshest and finest in all-natural, organic (if at all possible) whole foods ingredients. Needless to say, Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market are my favorite places to shop for ingredients.

Good Earth, a treasured local health food store, here in the boho enclave community of Broadripple (where David Letterman hails from), in Indianapolis, is also a great place for me to source hard-to-find ingredients. The Big Lug and I always say we’re going to “Middle Earth” when we visit Good Earth, or “The Hobbits”. I just adore the place. One of these days I will photograph the joint (with permission from the kind owners, of course) and share it with you. The building is actually a house which was converted into a general store. It has a charming wood exterior and sits along the river under a big tree. It is truly amazing how many items they pack into that tiny space—even upstairs!

Magic Cake Coffeecake 2About Shanna…

As mentioned above, this recipe is dedicated to one of my favorite food bloggers, Shanna, over at Pineapple and Coconut. Right away, I had respect for and knew I liked Shanna. The first thing I learned about her was that she was not fearful of a challenge—whether it involves baking or not. (In fact, she and her husband are designing and renovating her dream kitchen. No small feat!) I think competitive athletes understand this about each other. We are driven. I was once a ballerina, competitive roller skater and ice skater as well as a pompon girl in high school (I love music and needed to move to it) and Shanna was a swimmer and is currently a fitness enthusiast and expert. We know all about performance, competitions and meets. And, I totally connect with her over our shared love of baking—especially, all-natural whole foods baking. Remember the national stores I mentioned above? Yeah, they are her favorites too. We bake with the same ingredients and wouldn’t have it any other way.

When Shanna and I first met, via Twitter, we shared a brief exchange about gluten free baking and our missions. You see, both of us plan to conquer (we will, I swear!) gluten-free puff pastry. For me, specifically, I wish to tackle the French croissant. As for Shanna, she probably has a special puff pastry dessert in mind involving two of her favorite flavor combinations—either chocolate and salted caramel or lemon and blueberry. Two of my favorite flavor combos as well. No surprise there!

All I know is this (because I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Shanna in real life), she must light up the room when she walks in. Not just with her smile and beauty, but with her down to earth personality and sense of humor that exudes from her. She has definitely allowed her personality to shine thru via her blog and Twitter!

If you have not yet stopped by her blog, Pineapple and Coconut (named after her two girls, when she was pregnant with each), do yourself a big favor and drop in for a spell. The girl knows how to bake and rocks an apron like no one’s business—whether creating recipes that are good for you or just plain wicked!

So, Shanna…this one’s for you, girl! Once again, thank you for your support. Meeting you through food blogging has been a blast. We think so much alike when it comes to baking, food and cocktails. We are truly kindred spirits. xo ~Stacy

Magic Cake Coffeecake 3Magic Cake

Now, let’s talk magic. And, let’s talk cake.

Do you love flan? Crème brûlée? Custard pie? Are you a fan of vanilla? Coffeecakes? Streusel? Do you adore light, moist cakes like angel food or sponge cake filled with pudding–fashioned as a parfait or trifle? Pine for salted caramel much? Adore whipped cream on the side?

Yes? Then you will LOVE this cake! The recipe is my twist on a particular magical layered custard cake overtaking the food blogosphere of late—Magic Cake. And, I wanted to get her all dolled-up for Mother’s Day. The magic lies in the fact that only one batter is mixed and poured into the baking pan and out of the oven comes a cake baked with 3 distinct layers—a dense bottom or crust layer, a custard layer in the center and a moist sponge layer on top. The cake is truly scrumptious—especially with the additions of the crunchy streusel bottom and drizzle of salted caramel sauce!

The Origins of Magic Cake

Looking for the origins of this cake had me on quite the culinary research journey. I shared with you where I first found this cake at Pinterest via, posted on March 15, 2013. However, this blog stated they found the recipe at Mabel Mendez’s blog, Pasteles de Colores (Cakes Colors), posted on February 18, 2013. Mabel provides a helpful video how-to for beginner bakers, on how to make Magic Cake (no voice over, titles in Spanish). And, there were 85 comments at last count on her blog. It was within the commentary where I learned of a minor tiff that broke out—thanks to Google Translate.

It would seem as though some followers of the recipe at Mabel’s site were terse in accusing Mabel for claiming this recipe to be her own (which she did not do, by the way) after seeing a Croatian blog seemingly claim the same as being “the original”. Well, to cut out the drama and keep things short, Mabel set everyone straight. Mabel explained that one need only enter the Romanian term “Prajitura Desteapta” in a Google or Yahoo! image search and numerous images of this cake in different varieties shall pop up. And, boy, did they! (I highly recommend you do the same—just to see for yourself.) She explains further that the cake is of Romanian origin. The Romanian translation for “Prajitura Desteapta” is “Clever Cake”.

One of Mabel’s commenters referred her to the site called Coolinarika which means, “smile” in Croatian. As you will see via the link, “Pametni kolač” is the title at the top of the page. In Croatian, it means “Smart Cake”. Do take note of the date when the recipe was posted by Lynda—July 13, 2011. Nearly two years ago. At the top of the page, Lynda shares her comments (which translated read): “That I had been told this is probably just would not have believed it. Cake during baking you’ve made base, cream and sponge cake, no way. This is my discovery of the year was really, totally creamy, refreshing, however wonderful flavor with just five ingredients. I have no words to describe it, and I recommend everyone to try it. –Lynda” Seemingly, it was the word “discovery” that had many believing Lynda was the originator of Magic Cake.

Magic Cake Coffeecake 4Magic Cake is Not New

This magical cake is not new, peeps. Nope. It’s really not. It’s just new to you and it is fabulous to see bakers embracing this cake recipe as the next wicked thing to emerge from the oven. There’s a real Magic Cake revival going on kitchen by kitchen! I really do not wish to rain on anyone’s parade, but this cake recipe has been around for, well…a long time. My mother had recipes for both Magic Crust Custard Pie and Coconut Magic Pie that worked on the same basic principle that Magic Cake does. And, guess where the recipes came from? Newspaper clippings from years ago.

Here are some interesting links for you:

Magic Pie – 2002 (Although made with coconut or pineapple, take a look at the recipe ingredients and ratio. Look familiar? Submitter, Lee Lee, states, “…I got it from a newspaper clipping years ago.”)
Magic Crustless Coconut Pie – 2009
Magic Crust Custard Pie – 2011

So, there you have it. A little culinary trail as to Magic Cake’s origins—at least what I could readily find online.

Magic Cakes from Fellow Food Bloggers

Below are some links to fellow food bloggers and their recipes for Magic Cake (in chronological order for a timeline):

Magic Cake by Mabel Mendez of Pasteles de Colores – February 18, 2013
Magic Cake by Jo Cooks – March 1, 2013
Magic Custard Cake by White on Rice Couple – March 6, 2013
Chocolate Magic Custard Cake by White on Rice Couple – March 8, 2013
Chocolate Magic Cake by Mabel Mendez of Pasteles de Colores – March 12, 2013
Magic Cake by Kitchen Nostalgia – March 15, 2013
Magic 3 layer 1 batter cake by Cooking Rookie – March 19, 2013
Magic Cake, Part II – Chocolate, Red Velvet & Fruit by Kitchen Nostalgia – March 23, 2013
Magic Cake, the Nuttier Version by Cookistry – March 26, 2013
Peanut Butter Cup Magic Cake by Cookistry – March 27, 2013
Orange Chocolate Magic Cake by The Noshing Bride – March 28, 2013
Nutella Magic Cake by Kirbie’s Cravings – April 8, 2013
Blood Orange Magic Cake with Candied Almond Slices by Boulder Locavore – April 21, 2013

Magic Cake Coffeecake 5Gluten Free Flour Performance in Magic Cake Coffeecake

Wicked Good Kitchen is happy to report that Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour performed flawlessly in our Magic Cake Coffeecake application–right down to the perfectly smooth and creamy custard filling and moist sponge cake top layer.

Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour is available at William-Sonoma stores and their online catalog nationwide as well as Dean & Deluca and select Whole Foods Market stores in Southern California, the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. To check where you can purchase Cup4Cup, please visit their Where To Buy page.

My next goal? To create a paleo version of Magic Cake Coffeecake!

To All the Moms

Mom’s around the world…this one is for you! You truly deserve this treat for all the thankless tasks you do each and every day and for all the unconditional love you give to your children. ♥ Happy Mother’s Day!





P.S. Important Note: Mabel states on her blog that this particular cake cannot be unmolded. This is true—that is, unless you bake this cake (which has an especially thin batter) in a 100% leakproof 9-inch round springform pan. No other springform pan will work as the batter will leak through during baking. Please scroll down to view the images of the brands I recommend for this recipe.

Magic Cake Coffeecake {Gluten Free}

Yield: Makes one 9-inch cake; 8 servings.

Magic Cake Coffeecake {Gluten Free}

What makes our Magic Cake Coffeecake wicked good? A bewitching coffeecake with a delightfully crunchy cinnamon-nut “streusel” crust, irresistible creamy vanilla custard center and heavenly moist sponge cake top drizzled with Trader Joe’s delectable Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce and fresh whipped cream on the side. Swoon! Need we say more?


  • For the “Streusel” Bottom
  • 1 cup (105 grams) walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons (22.5 grams) firmly packed organic light brown cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (13 grams) organic granulated cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (5 grams) all-purpose flour*, such as Gold Medal®
  • ½ teaspoon (1.2 grams) ground cinnamon, such as Penzey’s® Cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon (about 14 grams) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • Pinches of salt, to taste
  • *Or, 2 teaspoons (5.3 grams) Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour.
  • For the Cake
  • 4 large eggs (mine were 198 grams w/o shells), room temperature, separated
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar or scant ¾ cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) purified water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract, such as Nielsen-Massey®
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon (about 125 grams) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 cup - 2 teaspoons (115 grams) all-purpose flour*, such as Gold Medal®
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons (17 ounces or 500 ml) whole milk, lukewarm
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 drops vinegar (1 drop per egg white)
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce, such as Trader Joe’s® (“no gluten”), for drizzling
  • *Or, 1 cup - 2 teaspoons (122.6 grams) Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour.
  • For the Optional Cake Adornments
  • Toasted sliced almonds, for topping, See Notes below for How to Toast Nuts.
  • Fresh whipped cream, for plating
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (or cinnamon) to dust whipped cream, for plating
  • Fresh raspberries, for plating
  • Fresh sprigs of mint, for plating
  • Special Equipment
  • 9-inch 100% leakproof nonstick springform pan, such as Kaiser LaForme Plus
  • Alternatively, an 8x8x2-inch square baking pan or 9-inch round cake pan


Arrange oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 325º F. Grease 9-inch round nonstick 100% leakproof springform pan with butter.

Prepare the “Streusel” Bottom: In a small bowl, combine nuts, sugars, flour and spices. Add butter and salt; stir and toss with a fork until well blended. Sprinkle evenly into bottom of prepared pan.

Prepare the Cake: Using an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer and large bowl, beat together egg yolks, sugar, water and vanilla on medium speed until incorporated and sugar is nearly dissolved, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary with rubber spatula. (This will take longer if using cane sugar as the granules are slightly larger than regular granulated sugar.) Increase mixer speed to high and beat until mixture has thickened and is light in color, about 1 minute.

Add butter and beat until mixture is well combined. Gradually add flour sifting into bowl, in three separate additions, beating well after each. Gradually add milk and beat in slowly, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary, until well combined and smooth. Batter will be very thin.

Using a clean bowl and clean, dry whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium-low speed until loose, bubbly and foamy. Add salt; increase mixer speed to medium and beat whites until very soft billowy peaks form (about one third of the way to stiff peak stage), about 1 minute. Add vinegar and continue to beat on high speed until stiff peak stage, about 2 to 3 minutes. If using a handheld mixer, this process may take 1 minute or so longer.

With a rubber spatula, add one third of the whites to the batter at a time. Using a wire balloon whisk, gently fold in each addition of beaten whites until just incorporated. Do not overmix as the egg whites will deflate. Mixture should have small lumps and wisps of egg whites. Using rubber spatula, carefully scrape and pour batter into prepared pan. Gently smooth top evenly with rubber spatula.

Bake in preheated oven until the top of the cake is golden brown and the center jiggles but no longer sloshes in the pan, about 55 to 60 minutes. Remove cake from oven and place on wire cooling rack. (The cake will still jiggle due to its unset custard center.) Cool for 10 minutes; run thin metal icing spatula around edge of pan to loosen cake from sides of pan. This will prevent any surface imperfections such as cracking as the cake cools and contracts.

Allow cake to cool completely, at least 1½ hours. Once the cake has cooled, place it (while still in the springform pan) into the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before unmolding the cake, loosen it from sides of pan by running thin metal spatula around the inside rim. (This will ensure cake will easily be freed from pan.) Unmold cake by removing sides of pan.

To Store the Cake: Keep cake covered and stored in refrigerator until ready to slice and serve.

To Slice & Serve the Cake: Slice the chilled cake with a thin knife that has been dipped in very hot water. Carefully wipe knife clean after each cut. Use a cake server to transfer slices of cake to dessert plates. Dust each slice with confectioners’ sugar and drizzle with warmed salted caramel sauce. If desired, embellish further by sprinkling each slice with toasted sliced almonds, placing whipped cream dusted with nutmeg on the side of each slice as well as fresh berries and sprigs of mint. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

How to Toast Nuts: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place nuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. (You may line the baking sheet with parchment paper if you wish.) Bake until nuts become fragrant and lightly browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Stir halfway through baking time and watch closely to prevent nuts from overbrowning or burning. Cool nuts completely before chopping and adding to recipe. To speed cooling process, transfer nuts onto plate and place in freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. Important Note: If toasting sliced almonds, adjust baking time to only 4 to 6 minutes. Since they are thin, they toast much faster.


Ingredients must be at proper temperature before starting recipe. Carefully read through the recipe and have everything measured and/or weighed in advance.

Since proteins in egg whites expand better when eggs are warm, eggs must be at room temperature for “buoyant foam” after whipping to stiff peak stage.

Should you forget to bring your eggs to room temperature by setting them out for an hour before starting recipe, do not worry. To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, fill a medium bowl with warm tap water—not hot, but warm so the eggs do not cook. Carefully place the eggs into the bowl of water so they are fully submerged. Allow eggs to soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove eggs from water and towel dry. Eggs should now be at room temperature and ready to use in recipe.

Carefully separate eggs. There should be absolutely no specks of egg yolk remaining in the egg whites. If so, the fat will not allow the egg whites to be beaten to optimum volume.

Start with a completely clean, dry mixing bowl and whisk (or whisk attachment), for beating egg whites. There should be no fat or oil residue in the bowl or on utensils which will impede beating egg whites to stiff peaks. If you own a copper bowl, by all means use it to whip your egg whites as the slight chemical reaction will help the whites become stiffer and lighter in nature over other methods.

At the beginning of beating egg whites, a pinch of salt will help firm up the proteins and aid the formation of tiny bubbles. Adding an acid (such as vinegar as called for in this recipe) one third of the way through beating, will stabilize and keep the tiny bubbles from bursting after beating.

Do not overbeat egg whites or they will become too dry and destabilize.

Always use beaten egg whites immediately to ensure they hold their stiff shape. Never beat egg whites in advance and allow to sit as this will cause them to slowly deflate.

Melted butter should be allowed to cool slightly before adding to batter. You do not want to cook or curdle the egg yolks.

Milk must be at lukewarm temperature when added to batter. If cold, the milk will cause butter to harden.

Flour should be added by sifting into mixing bowl to prevent lumps.

Do not use a larger pan as the top of sponge cake layer will be flatter.

Do not open oven door during baking or the cake may collapse due to the temperature fluctuation.

If using a springform pan, it must be 100% leakproof, such as Kaiser LaForme Plus Nonstick Springform Pan, because this cake batter is especially thin.

NOTE: At this time, I am not a paid spokesperson for any company. I just adore the companies mentioned above and their products!

Recommended Brands for this Recipe

Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour

Magic Cake Coffeecake 10Magic Cake Coffeecake 9

About Stacy

Stacy Bryce is a recipe developer and member of the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals). Her passion is developing original conventional baking recipes as well as special diet recipes to include dairy-free, gluten-free and grain-free. You can follow Stacy at Pinterest.


  1. I am in tears. This is beyond sweet and so touching. The cake looks amazing and I want a slice now!! Ohhhhh salted caramel – how I love you!! ha ha. You really summed me up well, I am not sure I would call myself a fitness “expert” but I have been around the fitness industry long enough to know many experts that I call upon all the time for advice and in turn I help other friends with advice. Its all about paying it forward. I find the fitness industry is very similar to food blogging. Its so encouraging and supportive and we all cheer each other on whether we hit a deadlift PR or in food blogging we get our pics accepted to Foodgawker or on Huff Post taste or a cookbook deal! They really are very parallel. And I love being a part of both worlds, mostly because the fitness part helps keep the muffin top at bay from the food blog part. Sort of. ha ha. Anyway. thank you again so much, I am beyond honored and so grateful we have become friends! And yes we will concur that gluten free puff pastry – I am thinking probably a pineapple and coconut cream filled croissant!! ha ha XOXO You ROCK girlfriend!!!

    • Thank YOU, Shanna! Again, appreciate so much the blog, Twitter and Pinterest support. Yes! We must get the gluten free puff pastry on a lock! My goal is to “unveil” my recipe come autumn. And, again…happy birthday, my friend! xo

  2. Oh my goodness, Stacy! That is one incredible looking coffee cake. I could just dive right in!

  3. Stacy, this looks absolutely amazing!!! I am just dyyyyyyying for a slice!

  4. You never cease to wow me with your desserts!

  5. Ive been seeing Magic Cakes for the past few months just everywhere and I am so intrigued! Yours is gorgeous and I’d love a big bite!

    • Thank you SO MUCH, girl! I knew I’d lure you in with TJ’s Salted Caramel Sauce! You simply must try your own spin on Magic Cake! xo

  6. Love, love, love coffee cake! I’ve never tried magic cake but it looks amazing! Definitely pinning and making. 🙂

    • Thank you, Tina! You will love it and I hope the tips and “visual cues” prove helpful to you. Just don’t forget to use a 100% leakproof springform pan. Otherwise, the springform pan will leak during baking. If you use a regular cake pan, of course, you will not be able to unmold it and must slice the cake inside the pan. Happy baking!

  7. Joanna Wilson says:

    I have my grandmother’s Depression-era recipe for ‘Lemon Dainty’ which divides as it cooks (in an old round Pyrex casserole dish) into warm lemony sauce with a light and airy cake on top. So I’m thinking this type of cake is pretty vintage!

    • Thank you for stopping by, Joanna! Yes, the recipe for ‘Magic Cake’ is vintage indeed. Love that you have a strong and fond recollection of your grandmother’s old recipe from the Depression-era. Now, you are going to have me searching for that vintage ‘Lemon Dainty’ recipe to try it out! Sounds like it would be lovely served with fresh berries and whipped cream. Once again, thanks for dropping by and for sharing!

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