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Italian Vanilla Custard Cake

Every time we make this cake, we’re never really quite sure if “cake” is indeed the right name for it. It falls somewhere between a dessert bar, a custard, and a cake… but what we do know is it’s pure magic. It’s creamy and sweet and velvety and it’s easy enough that it’s no chore to make it again and again. (Which you’ll definitely end up wanting to do.)
The cake itself is flavored simply with vanilla, but it’s all about the texture here. Moist, custardy, and smooth, it’s not like any sheet cake you’ve ever had before. A dusting of pine nuts and sugar over the top gives it a bit of Italian flair. (You can skip those… but they caramelize up in the oven in a way that you don’t really want to miss.)
Whipped egg whites are responsible for much of the texture of this confection. Unlike a lot of desserts that rely on egg whites though, you don’t have to worry about carefully folding them into the rest of the batter. You can just stir them in. Stir gently, sure, but you don’t need to do any fussy folding.
This isn’t a cake where the old toothpick trick is going to determine doneness. It will always seem a bit wet and jiggly, but it will set up as it cools. Just make sure to let the cake cool completely before you slice and serve it. You can even pop it in the refrigerator to chill it first. It’s good at room temperature or chilled. No matter how you serve it, it’s pretty much irresistible.

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