Turning Two with a Custard Cake

I had a bad day in the kitchen today.

The kitchen is usually my happy place, my woman cave, if you will, where I can create and taste and lose myself in stirring cake batter or a steaming pot of soup. But today my dear friends, oh today, I was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

It all started when I set some sugar on the stove to caramelize. My heart started to beat a little wildly in my chest. Between you and me, I still get a little nervous when caramelizing sugar. It really is a silly fear – I’m not a stranger to caramel, after all. I’ve made it for garnishes and for flans, and for ice cream, but I’ve had my share of failures, too. Just when I think I’ve got this caramel thing all figured out, I go and somehow mess it up.

And today, that’s exactly what happened.

Instead of going with my tried and true method, I decided to try yet another way of melting down my sugar. Three failures and many dish washings later, I finally returned to the way I know best and powered through. I was making a Custard Cake, not rocket science and quite simple when you break it down into its parts. I’ve made caramel flans, custards, and chiffon cakes – so all I had to do was bring those together into this dessert that is a sum of those parts. But the mishaps continued. There were spills and sticky messes, empty baking powder tins and rushes to the store for more supplies.

By the time my cake was in the oven, I was feeling quite defeated.

As I waited for my cake to bake and cleaned up messes and my wounded spirit, I reminded myself that perhaps it was appropriate that I chose to bake this particular cake to celebrate Kitchen Confidante’s second birthday. For two years, I have shared with you — things that are delicious, things that are simple, things that are challenging, and all the wonderful successes we can enjoy in the kitchen. It has been a labor of love for me, and yes, there have been failures now and then. The failures are the ones you learn from, the reminders that doing what you love takes work and patience. Today was one of those reminders.

I opened up a fortune cookie a few weeks ago that read: “Failure is the only opportunity to begin more intelligently.”

That perhaps, is the best way for me to head into my third year.

As I sit down to bite into this creamy cake, each forkful is rewarding, and for that, I want to thank you. Thank you for being a part of my labor of love. Thank you for learning with me along the way. Thank you for inspiring me to share.

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Custard Cake

Yield: 1 13x9x2-inch cake, or 2 9-inch round cakes.

It was really important for me to share this Custard Cake with you today. When I think of Kitchen Confidante, I think of the fusion of influences my life and my heritage has brought to the foods I eat. This Custard Cake is a classic dessert in the Philippines and reflects the complexity of its cuisine. The marriage of a classic Spanish-influenced Leche Flan (or creme caramel) with the American Chiffon Cake is match made in heaven. You will love the light cake layered with the rich, but not too sugary custard, the caramel sweetening it just so. It's just a lovely fusion of flavor and texture. I have updated my mom's recipe with a method that I feel is more reliable in obtaining an even caramel.



1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
5 egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 14-oz can evaporated milk
1 12-oz can condensed milk (fat free may be used)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chiffon Cake

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup granulated sugar (I prefer a fine baking sugar)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup water
1 cup egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar


Prepare the custard:
Heat a clean, heavy duty small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add sugar and water, stir briefly justuntil sugar is dissolved, then allow to simmer (no more stirring!) until the sugar begins to caramelize and changes color to your desired shade of amber. Pour into baking pan, tilting so all sides get coated. Set aside.

In a bowl, blend the egg yolks, eggs, evaporated and condensed milks and vanilla. Strain into the prepared baking pan and set side.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Prepare the chiffon cake:
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add, in order: oil, egg yolks and water. Beat with a spoon until smooth. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they form stiff peaks. Add the sugar and beat again. Power the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream over the egg whites, very gently folding with a spatula until the two are completely blended.

Pour the chiffon cake batter over the prepared custard and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for about one hour in a baine marie (water bath), until a toothpick inserted comes out clean when inserted in the center. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Insert onto a serving dish/tray. Chill in the refrigerator and serve when nicely chilled.

Enjoy, it is especially wonderful with a strong cup of coffee.

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by Liren Baker on February 2, 2012

47 Responses to “Turning Two with a Custard Cake”

  1. Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane February 2, 2012 @ 9:44 am (#

    Happy 2nd Birthday, Kitchen Confidante! I can completely relate to those bad days. There are so many factors involved in successful cooking outcomes and even the most skilled cooks have days like this in the kitchen. It seems your recent fortune cookie sums it all up pretty perfectly, however.

    Now, when are you going to open a pop-up bakery?

  2. Mary@siftingfocus.com February 2, 2012 @ 10:00 am (#

    Happy Second Birthday, Liren! Thank you for your delicious recipes – and for your honesty. We usually learn more from our “messes” than our successes. In the end, the cake looks absolutely wonderful – a fitting cake to celebrate a milestone.

  3. Sukaina February 2, 2012 @ 10:22 am (#

    Happy second blog anniversary Liren. This flan chiffon cake looks like the perfect way to celebrate!

  4. Brian @ A Thought For Food February 2, 2012 @ 10:40 am (#

    What a fabulous way to celebrate your blog anniversary! You are not only incredibly talented, but you are a wonderful person.

  5. Stephanie @ okie dokie artichokie February 2, 2012 @ 10:41 am (#

    Oh, so thoughtful! And congrats on your third year of food blogging. Wonderful stories and food throughout.

  6. Candy @ Candy Girl February 2, 2012 @ 10:42 am (#

    Happy anniversary! This cake looks beautiful and delicious. Love your photos!

  7. Norma February 2, 2012 @ 11:17 am (#

    Happy 2nd. I have enjoyed every single one of your posts and will continue to do so in the future. You are so talented and a very warm and beautiful womnan.

  8. Norma February 2, 2012 @ 11:17 am (#

    Oops…cake is great and stick to your original caramel recipe..I have tried others and failed so now i stick to the true.

  9. Cherine February 2, 2012 @ 11:55 am (#

    The cake looks wonderful

  10. lea davenport February 2, 2012 @ 12:27 pm (#

    Happy Second birthday! I love your posts and look forward to them….they make smile and help me recall special days and events. This cake looks lovely. Thank you!!

  11. Michelle February 2, 2012 @ 12:30 pm (#


  12. Rowena Dumlao-Giardina February 2, 2012 @ 2:13 pm (#

    Happy 2nd year! I just celebrated my first year too. Food do take out our heritage and discoveries together. I like leche flan but not too crazy about it. with this combination you made, I might just LOVE it! It looks delicious. Thank you for sharing!

  13. maruh February 2, 2012 @ 2:16 pm (#

    happy second birthday! more inspiring recipes to come :) your custard cake looks delicious. I want some! i want some! probably will make it one day. cheers!

  14. Chase Your Dreams February 2, 2012 @ 2:56 pm (#

    Happy birthday and thank you for all the wonderful and delicious recipes you share with us. I agree cooking is a labor of love.

  15. Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet February 2, 2012 @ 3:34 pm (#

    Happy 2nd Birthday Liren. The custard cake looks delish!! I’m so glad our blog-paths have crossed. Thanks for sharing deliciousness.


  16. Bunkycooks February 2, 2012 @ 3:50 pm (#

    Happy blog birthday to you! I wish you much success going into your 3rd year!

  17. Debi Shawcross February 2, 2012 @ 4:15 pm (#

    I have followed your blog happily over these last 2 years, and know I will enjoy the years that are ahead! I really like the cake element added to this flan like dessert–great texture, and celebration of a job well done!

  18. Nelly Rodriguez February 2, 2012 @ 4:43 pm (#

    Happy Blog Bday my dear!!! Love this cake, my best friend’s mother makes this and calls it “Biscocho Impossible” (Impossible Cake), with chocolate and a flan dulce de leche custard. Which after reading your post, I will need to make this month!

  19. Kelsey {itsybitsyfoodies} February 2, 2012 @ 5:27 pm (#

    Happy 2nd birthday, Liren/Kitchen Confidante! I look forward to following along with all that your beautiful blog brings to the table this year. Cheers to another great year!!

  20. Christine February 2, 2012 @ 7:27 pm (#

    Happy second blog anniversary!

  21. Vanille February 2, 2012 @ 7:32 pm (#

    I would never guessed it was such a hassle looking at your beautiful cake… A delicate one to celebrate these two years !

  22. Cooks_Books February 2, 2012 @ 7:34 pm (#

    Happy Blog Birthday! This custard cake looks so delicious. I’d never be able to make anything like that, so I’ll just keep reading your blog and looking at your photos and drooling! :)

  23. Janet@FCTC February 2, 2012 @ 7:43 pm (#

    This looks totally delicious. I know just what you mean about kitchen mishaps though… they seem to come in waves. It can’t be ONE thing wrong in the kitchen on a bad day, but ALL things…. and caramel can be a bi*** to work with anyway.
    Looks like you overcame it all though. Buzzed!

  24. easyfoodsmith February 2, 2012 @ 8:54 pm (#

    Happy Second Blog Anniversary and wishing you many more years of success, learning and enjoyment in the kitchen.

  25. easyfoodsmith February 2, 2012 @ 8:57 pm (#

    The cake looks every bit decadent and all the effort it took looks worth it! Bookmarked…buzzed

  26. Kim Bee February 2, 2012 @ 9:00 pm (#

    Happy Blog Birthday! I think we all have days like those. I have to say this cake turned out beautifully though. It’s really gorgeous. Here’s to many more years of making us all hungry.xx

  27. beti February 2, 2012 @ 9:11 pm (#

    what a beautiful and delicious looking cake and congratulations, you have such a wonderful blog

  28. Gitte February 3, 2012 @ 1:38 am (#

    Happy second Birthday! Your cake choice sounds and looks amazing and it looks like it came out baking pan with no difficulty at all. Beautiful!

  29. Lacy @ NYCityEats February 3, 2012 @ 11:49 am (#

    Congrats on your 2 years! That’s great! And what a lovely custard cake to celebrate with!!

  30. carolineadobo February 3, 2012 @ 12:03 pm (#

    Happy Anniversary to your blog and congratulations, Liren! I’ve been a loyal reader and wish more success to you.

  31. joy February 3, 2012 @ 2:52 pm (#

    Happy Blogiversary! The cake looks wonderful.

  32. Emily February 3, 2012 @ 6:12 pm (#

    Happy Birthday! This cake looks simply delish! I am curious though, what size cake pan do you use when making this cake?


    • Liren replied: — February 3rd, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

      Thank you, Emily! You can make this using one 13x9x2-inch cake pan or two 9-inch round cake pans. Good luck!

  33. Liren February 3, 2012 @ 7:27 pm (#

    You all are so wonderful, thank you everyone for the sweet blog birthday greetings! It is because of you that this is so rewarding :)

  34. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen February 3, 2012 @ 8:24 pm (#

    “Failure is the only opportunity to begin more intelligently.” – what a beautiful thought, it’s true that it’s through our failures that we learn and without them we would not improve. Happy 2 Year Blog Anniversary Liren!

  35. Y February 4, 2012 @ 2:55 pm (#

    Happy blog birthday! I’m so glad I came across your post. I’ve been wanting to make custard cake for awhile now. Yours looks perfect. And disasters.. yikes, haven’t we all experienced one or two of those in our baking lives! The sweet success stories always make it oh so worth it :)

  36. Erika - The Teenage Taste February 5, 2012 @ 8:02 am (#

    Happy 2nd Blog Birthday! That custard looks fabulous – what a great way to celebrate!

    PS – Don’t worry. I have issues with caramel too! I love the stuff, but I always do something wrong!

  37. Crystal February 10, 2012 @ 10:28 am (#

    Ooo, I know what to make grandma for her birthday this year.^^

  38. Jen @ Tiny Urban Kitchen February 11, 2012 @ 3:18 pm (#

    Happy Blog Birthday!! Thanks so much for blessing us with your gorgeous photos, witty and insightful writing, and heartwarming stories. Looking forward to a great third year. :)

  39. Bonny@cleverhen.com October 17, 2013 @ 7:19 am (#

    Happy blog birthday! The custard cake looks divine. Thanks for the beautiful, tasty recipe.

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