Custard Cake Recipe

4.82 from 11 votes

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This six-ingredient Custard Cake Recipe, known as “Biskvitena Torta” in 🇧🇬 Bulgaria, will blow you away. With just 15 minutes of prep time and a few simple ingredients, most of which you may already have on hand, this nostalgic dessert is both easy and delicious. This cake is a beloved classic that brings together layers of custard and cookies, creating a magical treat reminiscent of my childhood gatherings with my 👵🏼 grandma.

Why You’ll Love Custard Cake Recipe

This Custard Cake Recipe is more than just a dessert, it’s nostalgia on your 🍽️ plate. Not to mention, it’s effortless and convenient, using items you likely already have. As a traditional Bulgarian recipe, it brings back joyful memories of making it with my grandma. Whether using classic Papadopoulos cookies or any plain biscuit, this versatile treat promises to bring laughter, joy, and ❤️ love into your life, just as it has in mine.

How to Prepare Custard Cake Recipe

🥚 Separate the egg yolks from the whites (see tutorial below if needed).

🥣 In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla.

🥛 Heat milk on medium in a saucepan until it simmers, not boils.

♨️ Slowly add warm milk to the egg mixture while whisking continuously to temper it.

🔥 Pour the tempered mixture back into the pot and cook on medium heat, whisking until thickened (5-7 minutes). Remove from heat.

💦 Dip cookies in water briefly, then layer in a baking dish. Add custard on top and repeat this process until you have 3 layers of cookies and custard.

❄️ Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight for best results.

🍪 Before serving, top with crushed cookies, walnuts, toasted coconut, or chocolate shavings.

Nonna’s Tip 🍰

For the best flavor and texture, let the custard cake rest in the fridge overnight to allow the cookies to soften and the flavors to meld together.

Custard Cake

Variations and Substitutions for Custard Cake Recipe

Remember, if you are changing or adding ingredients you may have to experiment and adjust the quantities.

  1. Add cacao powder to the custard to create a chocolate version of the cake.
  2. Add layers of fresh or canned fruit, such as sliced 🍓strawberries, bananas, or peaches between the layers of custard and cookies.
  3. Mix shredded 🥥 coconut into the custard or sprinkle toasted coconut on top.
  4. Make a dairy-free custard cake! Substitute the milk in the custard with 🌿 plant-based milk such as almond, soy, or oat milk. Ensure the cookies you use are also dairy-free.
  5. If you’re short on ⏲️ time, you can use store-bought custard packets, though homemade custard will always be more flavorful.

Similar Recipes

Best Served With

  • Some fresh berries such as 🍓 strawberries or blueberries
  • A dollop of freshly, lightly sweetened whipped cream
  • Some ice cream such as my Cottage Cheese Ice Cream on the side
  • A cup of coffee or tea 🫖

Common Questions

How long will the custard cake last in the fridge?

The custard cake will last in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Can I make the custard cake the night before serving?

Yes, you can absolutely make it the night before. It’s best served after resting overnight.

Is the topping necessary for the custard cake Recipe?

The topping is completely optional. You can use crushed cookies, crushed walnuts (or both), shaved chocolate, or even toasted coconut. The toppings are all up to you and to taste.

What should I do with the egg whites after separating them from the yolks?

I like to save the whites and use them for omelets or other recipes.

Can I add cacao to the custard cake to make it a chocolate custard?

Yes, you absolutely can add cacao to the cake to make it into a chocolate custard, as my grandma and I often did.

What type of vanilla should I use in the custard cake?

Feel free to use vanilla bean paste, vanilla pod, or vanilla extract. I love the Madagascar vanilla bean paste.

Can I use any plain cookies for this custard cake Recipe?

Yes, you can use any plain cookies you like. We love using Greek, Bulgarian, or Portuguese ones (Maria cookies). As long as they are plain tea biscuits, the recipe will work. Here is an image of the ones local to me, Papadopoulos cookies.

Do I need to rest the custard cake before serving?

You don’t have to rest this cake, and my grandma and I would eat it warm when we lost patience. However, it is best served once rested and the flavors have developed. As the cake rests, the cookies will soften in the fridge overnight.

How can I soften the cookies for the custard cake?

You can dip the cookies to soften in water, milk, or coffee. We usually use water or milk, but it’s up to you.

Can I use store-bought custard instead of making my own?

If you feel lazy and don’t want to make your own custard, you can absolutely use store-bought custard packets, but it’s not nearly as good as homemade.

Can I use a smaller dish to make a higher custard cake?

Yes, you can use a smaller dish to make a higher cake. My grandma (Bapche) used to break the cookies at times in her hands and make it into a round dish too.

How can I make this custard cake recipe gluten or dairy-free?

To make this recipe gluten/dairy-free, please use your favorite gluten-free cookies. You can try plant or lactose-free milk. Alternatively, you can look for a custard recipe online that is dairy-free or vegan.

Custard Cake Recipe

This six-ingredient Custard Cake Recipe, known as "Biskvitena Torta" in 🇧🇬 Bulgaria takes just 15 minutes of prep time and a few simple ingredients.
4.82 from 11 votes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Bulgarian
Servings: 6
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 25 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ cups sugar, 190 grams or 10 heaping tablespoons
  • ½ cups corn starch, 80 grams or 4 heaping tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or pure vanilla extract
  • 5 cups warm milk
  • 2 packs Papadopoulos cookies (225 gram packs), any plain cookies will work

Additional Ingredients:

  • water, for dipping and softening the cookies prior to layering
  • crushed cookies + walnuts for the top, shaved chocolate or toasted coconut is also a delicious alternative

Instructions 

  • Separate the egg yolks from the whites. If you don't know how to do this, please look at this tutorial first: 4 simple ways to separate egg yolks.
  • In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla. Whisk well until combined.
  • My grandma and I never measured; we always added heaping tablespoons of corn starch and sugar and never used a measuring cup. Feel free to do this as well or use my exact measurements above.
  • In the meantime, warm the milk on the stove. I add the milk on medium heat and keep a very good eye on it. We don't want the milk to boil, we want it to come to a simmer.
  • Note: when you hear me say that we have to "temper" something, that means we have to bring something up to temperature by slowly adding it in and whisking the whole time.
  • Take the hot milk off the heat and slowly add a little warm milk at a time into the egg mixture as you whisk. This process is called tempering. Continue adding milk and whisking until all the milk is used and the mixture reaches the desired temperature.
  • Once this step is complete and the milk is tempered, add the whole egg-milk mixture BACK into the pot. Place it on the stove over medium heat and whisk continuously until the mixture looks thick like custard. It usually takes 5 to 7 minutes for the milk mixture to turn into custard. As soon as the custard is thick, take it off the heat.
  • We can now begin to layer while the custard is hot. Take the cookies and dip each one, one at a time, into a bowl of water. Don't hold the cookie in the water, just submerge it quickly and take it out. Place the cookie in your baking dish and start to arrange them, making a single layer covering the bottom.
  • I arrange 15 cookies in each layer as that is what my baking dish allows for. You may need less/more depending on the dish you use.
  • Once the first layer is done, add 2 to 3 ladles of custard on top, making sure the cookies are fully covered. Repeat this step two more times until you've used up all the ingredients.
  • Note: You are going to dip each cookie one at a time and arrange them. To make the cake, start with a layer of cookies, followed by a layer of custard, then another layer of cookies, another layer of custard, another layer of cookies, and finally the remaining custard as the top layer. You should have a total of 3 layers of cookies and 3 layers of custard, with the first layer being cookies
  • Once the cake is assembled, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge overnight. You can eat it warm but we like to wait so that the flavors can marry and the cookies can soften.
  • Before serving, I enjoy crushing a few cookies and walnuts in my food processor and sprinkling them on top. You can also add toasted coconut or chocolate shavings. Enjoy!

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 325kcal, Carbohydrates: 46g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 219mg, Sodium: 88mg, Potassium: 326mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 36g, Vitamin A: 589IU, Calcium: 274mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Bulgarian
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

4.82 from 11 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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14 Comments

  1. This is so delicious and very easy to make. It brought me right back to my childhood and summer days at my grandma’s house in Bulgaria.

  2. One of the easiest and most delicious recipes ever. Just old fashioned homestyle goodness! Thank you.

  3. If you wanted to enhance this with a lemony flavouring, where and how could you apply it? Dip cookies in a lemon flavoured water? Top with lemon curls or rind?