1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by- 13-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper, leaving the ends long enough to hang over the long edges of the dish to help with lifting the cake out of the pan later.

  2. Melt the butter and let it cool until it is warm but still melted. Separate the eggs, placing yolks and whites in separate large bowls. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the egg yolks with the powdered sugar and lemon peel until they become pale. While beating on low speed, slowly add the melted butter, then the sifted flour, then the milk.

  3. To the bowl of egg whites, add salt, vanilla extract and rum extract (if using). Beat until they are stiff. Using only a wooden spoon or a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture a large spoonful at a time. Do not overmix it.

  4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 1 hour. Resist the urge to open the oven. After 1 hour, test for doneness by jiggling the pan gently (the middle should be firm). If needed, bake for up to 30 minutes longer, checking every 10 minutes or so (again, try not to open the door too often). 

  5. Turn off the oven and leave cake in the oven with the door closed for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, or until the next day.

  6. To serve, run a paring knife around the outside of the cake to make sure it has not stuck to the pan anywhere, then use the overhanging parchment to lift cake out of the pan. Dust with powdered sugar, cut into 2-inch squares and arrange on a serving platter. When you cut into this custardy cake, it will have formed its own layers and have a slightly crispy top.

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Side view of Intelligent Cake showing a custard layer on the bottom, cake layer on the top, and a brown top dusted with powdered sugar.