Indulge in the tropical flavors with this delicious Passionfruit Cake. Layers of Passionfruit cake brushed with passionfruit syrup, filled with tangy Passionfruit Curd, frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
Today I will show you how to make this passion fruit cake step-by-step.
You can make the elements of the cake ahead, and assemble the cake on another day. The cake layers, the passion fruit curd, and the frosting can all be made ahead.
How to make passion fruit cake recipe
Before starting to make the cake, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Grease three 8-inch cake pans. Line the bottom of the cake tin with a round of parchment paper, and grease the paper. Set it aside.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set it aside. This will be the dry mixture.
To make the cake sponges, start by beating the butter, sugar, and oil with a mixer for 2 minutes, until creamy and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, making sure one egg is incorporated before adding the next one. Next, add the vanilla extract and passionfruit curd, and mix.
Add one third of the flour mixture to the batter and stir on low. Follow with half of the buttermilk, mixing to incorporate.
Add the other third of the dry mixture, followed by the rest of the buttermilk.
Finish with the final third of the flour mixture. Mixing just until the batter comes together. Don’t over mix once the flour has been added, that can make the cake dry and tough.
Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Or until you touch the top of the cake and it bounces back.
Let the cake cool down for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Tips for making passion fruit cake
- Don’t over mix the batter once the flour gets added, to prevent gluten development, and to prevent the cake from becoming tough or dry.
- If you don’t have buttermilk, simply add 1 tsp of vinegar to regular milk and add it to the batter.
- Make sure the eggs, butter, and buttermilk are at room temperature when making the recipe.
- Bake just until a toothpick comes out clean, or the top of the cake bounces back if you touch it. Don’t over bake because that also causes dry and tough cake.
- You can make the cake layers ahead and refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 2 months. Make sure to wrap the cakes nicely to keep them the freshest possible.
Next up, it’s time to make the passion fruit curd. It needs a few hours chilling in the fridge before using. It can also be made ahead and kept in the fridge.
Making passionfruit curd is super easy. I don’t use a double boiler because it takes forever. Instead, I like to beat the butter, sugar, egg yolks, and passionfruit pulp with a mixer before placing in a small pot with a heavy bottom, and cooking over medium-low heat.
Cook the curd stirring non-stop, and keep the heat low. Don’t let the curd come to a boil.
Cook until thick, coating the back of a spoon, and a thermometer should read 170ºF.
You can add some passionfruit seeds and the juice of a passionfruit to the curd once you are done making it. This will give a bit of a crunch to the curd, and add even more passionfruit flavor.
You can see more tips on making passionfruit curd on this post.
To make the passion fruit syrup, simply add the passionfruit pulp and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves entirely, turn the heat off.
Let the passionfruit syrup cool down before brushing it on the cake.
This syrup can be kept in the fridge for up to 15 days, and can also be used to sweeten drinks.
Brushing the syrup on top of the cake will help it stay moist and soft. The syrup will also make the taste of passionfruit burst through the layers of the cake even more.
The final step is to make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream to frost the cake. I found that this frosting choice was the best for the fruity and tangy cake. The Swiss Meringue Buttercream is mild and creamy, it provides a milky silkiness to the cake that really compliments the bright passionfruit taste.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Some people consider this a difficult frosting to make, but I will give you a few tips to keep in mind, and you will see how easy this frosting really is.
Fill a pot with a couple of inches of water and bring to a simmer.
Place a bowl on top of the pot to form a double boiler. Add sugar and egg whites to the bowl. Whisk to combine. Continue whisking until the sugar melts and a thermometer reads 140ºF.
Remove the syrup from the double boiler and transfer to a stand mixer. Or if using a hand mixer, leave the syrup where it is and begin whisking with a mixer.
Whisk the syrup for about 15 to 18 minutes at medium-high speed, until it becomes a stiff meringue.
The peaks of the meringue should be shooting straight up, and the meringue should look glossy.
At this point, the temperature of the meringue should be between 70 and 75ºF, if it’s not there yet, let the meringue cool down for a bit before the next step.
Start adding the butter only one tablespoon at a time, making sure one slab of butter is incorporated before adding the next.
Once all the butter has been added, continue to whip until the buttercream comes together in a fluffy and thick cream.
Switch the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment, and run the mixer on low for 20 minutes. Trust me on this one, this will make the buttercream absolutely silky and incredible!
Tips for making Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the simmering water in the double boiler.
- Make sure to whisk the syrup the whole time over the double boiler to ensure the sugar is melting evenly.
- Ensure the meringue is between 70 and 75ºF before adding the butter in, if it’s not, let it cool down for a few minutes.
- Make sure the butter is at 72ºF before adding to the meringue.
- Also make sure that the meringue has stiff peaks before you start adding the butter in.
- If the buttercream isn’t coming together after beating a lot, place the bowl in the fridge for 5 to 10 minutes, and then try whipping again to see if it firms up.
- Add the butter one tablespoon at a time.
- Once the buttercream is done being whipped, switch the whisk to the paddle attachment and mix on low for 20 minutes to form a super silky and creamy buttercream.
To assemble the cake
Now that all elements of the cake are ready, it’s time to assemble!
Start by placing a cake layer on top of a cake plate or stand. Brush with some of the passionfruit syrup, if using.
Then spread a thin amount of frosting on top of the cake layer. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the edges.
Add about 1/2 cup of passionfruit curd to the center. Top with another cake layer and repeat the process.
Spread a thin amount of frosting around the whole cake, on the top and on the sides.
Use a bench scraper to smooth the sides of the cake. And use an offset spatula to smooth out the top of the cake.
Place the cake in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
This step is called crumb coating, and ensures the crumbs are being sealed in the cake and won’t show up in the final layer of frosting that we are going to spread on the cake.
Spread a thicker amount of frosting around the cake and on top. Use a spatula to smooth the top of the cake and the sides with a bench scraper.
I used a scalloped comb to make ridges on the cake. And I find that you need a thicker amount of frosting when using this type of cake comb.
On top of the cake, I did a rope border using a tip 4B.
Place the cake back in the fridge. And once the frosting is set and cold, you can put a passion fruit drizzle on top. I simply opened a passionfruit and spread the pulp on top of the cake.
I like to get my passionfruit pulp, or passion fruit puree on amazon. You can also get it at the frozen food aisle of the grocery store.
I find that the frozen pulp doesn’t have as much flavor as the pulp for some reason.
When ordering passion fruit pulp or puree, make sure it’s 100% passionfruit juice or pulp. If there’s added sugar, make sure it’s only a 10 to 20% amount. If there’s water mixed, or too much sugar, it will alter the recipe outcome.
Passionfruit Cake Variations
You can make this cake lemon or mango flavor easily.
If you like this recipe, check out these other cake recipes:
- Almond Raspberry Cake
- Banoffee Cake
- Key Lime Pie Cake
- Blackberry Lemon Cake
- Pistachio Raspberry Cake
- Raspberry Coconut Cake
- Biscoff Cake
- Dulce de Leche Mocha Cake
Passionfruit Cake layers
- 3 cups all-purpose flour 382 grams
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature (113 grams)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil 120 ml
- 1 1/2 cups sugar 300 grams
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cup passionfruit pulp
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter 113 grams
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar 100 grams
- Pinch of salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup passion fruit pulp* 180 ml
- 1/2 cup passionfruit pulp 120 ml
- 100 grams granulated sugar
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 8 egg whites about 270 grams
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar 500 grams
- 678 grams unsalted butter 6 sticks at 72ºF
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Passionfruit Cake layers
- Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Grease three 8-inch cake pans, line the bottom with parchment and grease the parchment as well. Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
- Beat the butter, vegetable oil, and sugar together with a mixer at medium speed for about 2 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and doubled in size.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure one egg is completely incorporated before adding the next one.
- Add the vanilla and passionfruit pulp.
- Mix to combine.
- Add one third of the flour mixture to the bowl. Mix on low.
- Add half of the buttercream, and mix to combine.
- Then add another third of the flour mixture and mix briefly.
- Add the remaining buttermilk and mix.
- Finish with another 1/3 of the flour mixture and stir to combine.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the 3 cake pans.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the cake, or once you touch the cake and it bounces right back.
- Let the cakes cool down for 10 minutes.
- Then flip the cakes onto a wire rack to cool down.
- If not assembling the cake on the same day, wrap the cakes individually in plastic wrap and place them in the fridge or freezer. They will store well in the freezer for up to 2 months, or in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Beat the butter, sugar, and salt for 30 seconds to one minute until incorporated.
- Add the egg yolks and mix to combine.
- Pour the passion fruit pulp in the bowl and mix. Mixture will seem curdled and separated, and that’s ok.
- Transfer it to a small saucepan with a heavy bottom.
- Start cooking at low heat, stirring non-stop with a spatula.
- Keep cooking for 5-10 minutes. Don’t let the mixture boil, and don’t stop stirring. Cook until the curd temps 170ºF.
- The curd should be thick, coating the back of a spoon.
- Depending on how high or low the heat is, the time will vary. You don’t want the eggs to boil, and you don’t want the mixture to stick to the bottom of the pan, which will easily happen if the heat is too high, or if you stop stirring.
- Once the curd is ready, pour it into a heat-proof bowl, and let it cool down.
- You can add passionfruit seeds to the curd and mix for an added crunch element.
- Place it in the fridge for at least 6 hours to chill through and get thick.
- The curd can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- The passionfruit syrup is an optional step, but I find that really helps enhance the passionfruit taste in the cake. It makes the layers moist and brimming with passionfruit flavor.
- To make the syrup, simply place the passionfruit pulp and the sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Once the sugar melts, turn the heat off. Let the syrup cool down before assembling the cake.
- You can store this syrup in the fridge for up to 15 days. Or use it to sweeten drinks.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Whisk the egg whites and the sugar in a large glass bowl.
- Place the bowl over a double boiler with barely simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water.
- Whisk the sugar and whites until the sugar melts and a thermometer reads 140ºF.
- Remove and transfer the syrup to the bowl of a stand mixer, or start whipping the syrup with a hand mixer.
- Whip on medium high for about 10 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. Depending on the mixer or speed used, it can take even up to 18 minutes.
- If the mixture isn’t reaching stiff peaks, place the bowl in the fridge for 5 to 10 minutes and then start whipping again.
- The meringue should have stiff peaks shooting straight up and should look glossy and thick. At this point, the temperature of the meringue should be between 70 and 75ºF, if it's not there yet, let the meringue cool down for a bit before the next step.
- Start adding the butter one tablespoon at a time, waiting for one butter slab to incorporate with the meringue before adding the next one. The butter must be at 72ºF before you add it to the bowl.
- Continue whisking until it becomes creamy and thick.
- Add the vanilla and mix.
- If the buttercream is too thin and not coming together, place the whole bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes, and then whip it again until thick.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and mix the buttercream on low for 20 minutes. This will get rid of air bubbles and make such a smooth and silky buttercream.
- If you are using a hand mixer and don’t have the paddle attachment, simply mix the buttercream with a spatula pressing it against the sides of the bowl to deflate it. Try to do this as long as possible, for about 5 to 10 minutes or as much as your arms can take it. It’s worth doing it.
To assemble the cake
- Place one layer of Passionfruit Cake on a cake plate.
- Brush the top of the cake with the syrup, and wait a minute for the cake to soak up all the syrup.
- Spread a very thin amount of Swiss Meringue Buttercream on the cake.
- Place some of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
- Pipe a ring of frosting around the edges of the cake layer.
- Fill the center with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of passionfruit curd.
- Top with another cake layer and repeat the process.
- Once all layers are stacked, spread a thin amount of frosting on top of the cake and around the sides. Use a bench scraper to smooth out the sides, and use an offset spatula to scrape the excess from the top.
- Place the cake in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the fridge and spread a generous amount of frosting on top and on the sides of the cake.
- I used a comb to make the sides of the cake scalloped.
- Then I put the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a tip 4B, and piped a rope around the edges on top of the cake. Place the cake in the fridge.
- Once the cake was cold and the frosting had set, I spread passionfruit seeds with the pulp on top of the cake
- Store the cake in the fridge covered for up to 3 days.
- To freeze: slice individual slices and wrap each individually in plastic wrap, place in an airtight container or freezer bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.
- You can also freeze the whole cake. I made miniature cakes from this recipe and froze the whole frosted mini cake by wrapping it in plastic and placing in an airtight container in the freezer.