Magic Custard Cake satisfies a craving for rich egg custard in a flash, and comes together like magic. Use real vanilla beans to let that flavor shine!

What IS that in my muffin?

You know how you sometimes see little brown specks in baked goods, custards or frostings? No, those aren’t dirt from a careless chef…they’re something wonderful that adds a delicious flavor to all they touch: vanilla bean seeds. Using real vanilla beans can be expensive and messy, but they’re oh so worth the effort…the flavor they impart is rich without being cloying, with none of that artificialness (yes, I’ve decided that’s a word) that you get from inexpensive vanilla extracts.

What are vanilla beans? How do you use them? Glad you asked! Here’s a primer (oh boy…here we go…)

[ ** Warning: Wiki-lecture alert **]

Vanilla Primer Time

Vanilla is actually the dried fruit pod from orchids. It was first cultivated by Pre-Columbian Mesoamericans and was brought to Europe in the 1520s by Spanish conquistadors. Now grown in the tropical regions of Mexico, the South Pacific, Indonesia, and especially Madagascar, vanilla is the second-most expensive spice after saffron because it’s very labor-intensive to grown the pods. Beyond baking, vanilla is used in sorts of products for its lovely aroma. I buy Madagascar vanilla beans from Beanilla, and store them in a ziplock bag either at room temperature in a cool, dry place (like the back of my pantry) or in the freezer. To get to the vanilla bean seeds, just take the pod and cut it in half, then split it open lengthwise. Using the back of a paring knife, scrape the seeds and add them to whatever needs flavoring.

I use real vanilla beans when I want the vanilla flavor to really take center stage, such as in the aforementioned custard. When the flavor is a supporting actor (like in a chocolate cake or pecan pie), I’ll use vanilla extract. You can, of course, buy good quality vanilla extract, but I make my own by immersing spent vanilla beans in vodka…it’s a great way to recycle those expensive used beans, and I still get some of those little seeds into my products. You’ll see my little bottle of homemade vanilla extract in many of my ingredient pictures, starting with Sharing is Caring (it’s there on the right).

Ok, lecture over…I hope your eyes haven’t glazed over too much!.


real vanilla bean and homemade vanilla extract
A fresh vanilla bean and my homemade vanilla extract (if you look closely, you’ll see the spent vanilla beans in there)

When you have a yen…

The reason I started thinking about real vanilla beans in the first place is because I had a craving (you know, the usual way these thoughts are usually started)…I wanted vanilla egg custard, the kind with nutmeg on top. But I didn’t want to wait for hours for it to chill, so after a quick Pinterest search, I came across a recipe for Magic Custard Cake from Cinnamon and Toast. What is that, you ask? “This magic custard cake is truly quite magical.  Using simple ingredients, the batter separates into three layers as it bakes.  The bottom is a slightly dense custard.  The middle is a smooth and soft custard.  The top is a light and moist sponge cake.”

…and it was! The only change I made to the recipe is that I used real vanilla bean to intensify the vanilla flavor to counteract the “egginess” of the cake. Ok, I also added nutmeg because, well, it’s my kitchen, my rules.


Magic Custard cake ingredients
Combine these ingredients and make some magic!



Magic Custard cake baked & closeup collage
It’s skinny, but look at those lovely vanilla bean seeds…specks of flavor!


Magic Custard Cake slice plated


The final cake was thinner than I thought it would be, but it was wonderful, completely fulfilling the custard craving that I had started with. My husband has already asked me to make it again, and for him, that’s a real stamp of approval. Oh, and that spent vanilla bean? I rinsed it a little bit and put it into my extract jar, there to await my next baking adventure. Hmmm…what sounds good now…?

Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!


p.s. to my Boston baby…all I need is to take a whiff of orange blossoms and I’m transported to when I’m holding you in my arms, when caring for you became the focus of my life. Your empathy and caring for others started so young, and has never abated…it shines in all you do. I’m so proud of the person you are, and I wish you a wonderful day filled with love and laughter. Happy birthday, my love!

Magic Custard Cake

Magic Custard Cake satisfies a craving for rich egg custard in a flash, and comes together like magic. Use real vanilla beans to let that flavor shine!
Adapted from Cinnamon and Toast
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
1 hr
Total Time2 hrs 20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Custard, Egg, Egg Custard, Vanilla
Servings: 16 2-inch squares
Calories: 185kcal
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Special Equipment


  • 4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk, lukewarm
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
  • nutmeg, for dusting


  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease an 8- x 8-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper with some extra hanging over the sides to help lift the cake out of the pan.
  • Warm the milk in the microwave, about 45-60 seconds on HIGH. Add the scraped vanilla bean seeds (if using) and allow them to infuse the milk.
  • Using a hand mixer, whisk egg whites on high speed until soft peaks are formed. Transfer them to another bowl, and set aside.
  • Add the egg yolks and sugar to mixing bowl and beat until smooth, creamy and pale yellow in colo, about 3 minutesr. Add the butter and continue mixing for approximately 2-3 minutes on high speed. Mix in the flour until incorporated.
  • Slowly add the vanilla-infused milk (or milk and vanilla extract, if not using a vanilla bean), beating at low speed. Gently fold in egg whites, a third at a time (the batter will be quite thin). It will be difficult to fully incorporate the egg whites.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until top is lightly golden and firm to the touch.
  • Let the cake cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and nutmeg, then cut into squares. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

You can cut the the recipe in half and baked it in a standard loaf pan. Still use the entire vanilla bean to really get all the great vanilla flavor.
Nutrition Facts
Magic Custard Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 185
* Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 cal per day diet.
Did you make this recipe?Please share your pictures with the world...mention @scotch_scones and tag #scotchandsconesblog on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. I can't wait to see your creations!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.