Vanilla Layered Tray Bake

A lovely, light tray bake with layers that appear magically. In fact I found this in an edition of “Baking Heaven” magazine under the title “Magical baking”, courtesy of its creator, Kathleen Royal Phillips. It’s so good I’ve hardly changed it.

Serves: 16 pieces              Time: 70 minutes + cooling time           Difficulty: Quite easy


  • 4 large eggs
  • 150g granulated sugar (caster is probably OK as well)
  • 115g salted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g plain flour
  • 500ml whole milk at room, lukewarm
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • Icing sugar to dust


  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Fan 150C/Gas 3. Grease and line a 20cm (8″) square cake tin with baking parchment, allowing enough extra on at least two opposite sides to help lift the contents out later. Dust lightly with flour.
  2. Separate the eggs. Put the yolks in a mixing bowl with the sugar and beat on high speed until lemon coloured – about 2 – 3 minutes.
  3. On a low speed, gradually mix in the melted butter and vanilla, scraping down the sides when necessary. Sift in the flour and mix lightly until combined. Gradually add the milk, again beating until just combined.
  4. In a clean glass or metal bowl, beat the egg whites on a medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to high until stiff peaks form.
  5. Gently mix about a quarter of the beaten egg whites into the thin batter mixture, then carefully fold in the rest using a large metal spoon or a silicone spatula.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the centre has a slight wobble when gently shaken.
  7. Let it cool completely on a wire rack – about an hour – without removing it from the tin yet. When cool, cover* and place in fridge for at least two hours. When it’s fully chilled, remove it from the tin and cut into pieces. (It will give 16 reasonably sized pieces, cut 4 x 4). Dust with icing sugar then serve.
  8. *N.B. Once baked, the top surface is quite delicate and if touched, patches will easily pull away.

    IMGP4044 Sat 1st Dec - Vanilla Layer Magic Cake - 8