How to Make Lemon Custard Magic Cake

Updated: Oct. 12, 2023

Light, lemony and made with only six ingredients, this lemon custard cake is perfect for any occasion. Here's how to make it at home.

Lemon desserts have a place at any table. After all, a punch of lemon pairs well with a wide variety of recipes, including a homemade magic custard cake!

This recipe for lemon custard cake uses just six simple ingredients to produce a cake with surprising results. The baking process for this cake produces three different layers, each with a markedly different texture. Paired with the light addition of lemon, it’s the ideal dessert to serve for any occasion.

What is custard cake?

Custard cake, or magic custard cake, gets its name from the surprising results you’ll see once this cake is pulled out of the oven. Gateau magique, or magic cake, is a French dessert with a soft, delicate texture.

Through the baking process, three different layers are formed—a firm layer at the bottom, a custard center and a soft sponge on top. The luscious custard layer in the middle, formed by the mixture of milk and eggs, serves as the star of the show. This version puts a delicious, light lemon-flavored spin on the decades-old recipe.

Lemon Custard Cake Recipe


 Lemon Custard Magic Cake ingredientsMolly Allen for Taste of Home

  • 4 cold eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
  • Zest and juice of one lemon


Step 1: Mix the batter

 Lemon Custard Magic Cake mixMolly Allen for Taste of Home

Line a 2-inch tall 8×8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, egg yolks, melted butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and 1/2 cup of the milk. Whisk to combine and then whisk in the remaining milk.

Step 2: Add in the egg whites

 Lemon Custard Magic CakeMolly Allen for Taste of Home

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the egg whites into the liquid mixture, folding in one-third of the egg whites at a time. Be sure the liquid at the bottom of the mixing bowl is fully incorporated each time.

Step 3: Time to bake!

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake the cake for 45 minutes until the top is lightly golden and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow the cake to fully cool in the pan for at least one hour. Remove the cake from the pan, pulling it out using the sides of the parchment paper. Dust the top with powdered sugar before slicing and serving at room temperature or chilled.

If you’re looking for more recipes, learn how to make the chocolate magic cake here.

Tips for Making Lemon Custard Cake

  • Cool the butter: When mixing the batter for this cake, it’s important that the melted butter is fully cooled. This will help avoid any unwanted issues, such as the eggs beginning to cook, while being added into the mixture.
  • Make it zesty: By using the zest and juice of one lemon, this lemon custard cake features a light citrus flavor. If you wish to add even more lemon flavor, add more zest. Skip adding more lemon juice to avoid any potential for curdling.
  • Use the right equipment: To choose the right pan for this custard cake, go with a square baking pan or dish with a high wall. Your cake will need to rely on those walls while baking to help form its structure.
  • Add a topping: Dressing up this custard cake is sure to make it shine. On its own, the baked cake is pretty plain. For a simple decorative touch, dust it with powdered sugar. You could also top it with fresh, sliced berries or a light cream cheese frosting, or serve each slice with a spoonful of homemade lemon curd.