Spongy chiffon cake with a caramel custard topping, custard cakes are a popular treat in the Philippines where they are sold at bakeries by the slice and prepared for many special occasions. While a few variations exist, most recipes follow the same steps and have nearly identical ingredients.

Custard cake is prepared in four parts: the caramel, the custard, the cake batter, and the meringue. The caramel goes in the bottom of the pan, followed by the custard and then cake batter that has been lightened with meringue. When the cake has been baked, it is turned out upside-down so that the caramel and custard are on top and the cake is on the bottom.

Have a 13″x9″ pan ready along with a larger, lipped pan it can sit inside. Read all of the instructions before proceeding.

Caramel

Ingredients:

1/4 cup water
1 cup white, granulated sugar

1. For a dark, rich caramel, you will want to caramelize the sugar in a separate pan and monitor it.
2. Combine sugar in water in a small saucepan. Do not stir.
3. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-high.
4. Watch carefully for the caramel to begin to brown. This should take about 8 minutes. Swirl the pan to avoid hot spots.
5. When the caramel is amber-colored, immediately remove from heat and pour it into your waiting 13″x9″ pan. Allow to cool.

Custard

Ingredients:

8 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 24oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whole or 2% milk
1/4 cup white, granulated sugar

1. When your caramel has cooled, whisk together custard ingredients until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Pour custard mixture over hardened caramel.

Cake Batter

Ingredients:

1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup whole or 2% milk
1 tsp. lemon juice or 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
6 egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 cup white, granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Cream egg yolks, lemon zest and sugar until light in color, 2 to 5 minutes.
2. Sift together baking powder, flour and salt.
3. Add a third of the flour mixture to the egg yolks and mix until loosely combined. Follow with half of the milk. Repeat until everything is combined, and then beat on a low speed until smooth.

Meringue

Ingredients:

6 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup white, granulated sugar

1. Use a very clean mixing bowl and a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or an electric beater.
2. Whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar. Beat until soft peaks form; when you lift the whisk or beaters from the eggs and invert the beater, the batter should form a peak with a drooping top.
3. Gradually sprinkle in the sugar, whisking on a high speed between additions. When all the sugar has been added, whisk until the mixture forms stiff, shiny peaks.

Assembly and Baking:

1. Boil at least two cups of water. Preheat oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit (180-degrees Celsius) with the rack in the center of the oven.
2. Gently fold the cake batter into the egg whites. Check out the video below to see the folding technique in action.
3. Pour the batter mixture over the custard. Do not mix.
4. Set the 13″x9″ pan inside the lipped pan, and put both pans in the oven.
5. Pour the boiling water into the outer, lipped pan. This will help the custard and cake steam.
6. Bake 1 hour. Remove both pans from the oven and let cool for half an hour. Remove the cake pan from the outer pan and cool completely.
7. Run a knife along the outside edge of the cake pan, and then invert the cake onto a platter. The easiest way to do this is put the platter on top of the pan, hold them together tightly, and then flip. Refrigerate 1-hour before serving.

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