Both my parents turn 60 this year. It’s a huge life milestone and each of them deserve their own show-stopper birthday cakes. We knew we were going to do a doorstop drop for my mum, so I asked her a few weeks in advance what she would like. There was a clear flavour she wanted and that was Passion Fruit Cake. Armed with that knowledge and not a lot else, I set about searching for recipes for a cake idea that I had in my head. I wanted to create impressive layers, worthy of such a huge occasion and ended up taking parts of about four different recipes. The cake I decided upon was a Chocolate and Passion Fruit Cake.
For some reason my sponges didn’t rise as much as usual, but I did use a different flour that I don’t usually work with, which I think might have been the cause of that. There are also a few things I would change in hindsight for the recipe. The Swiss-Meringue buttercream was far too buttery, so I don’t think the amounts in the recipe I used were correct to start with. To combat this, I’ve included a different Swiss-Meringue buttercream recipe that I hope works a little better for you. Furthermore, it was agreed that the passionfruit jelly layers would have potentially worked a little better as a passion fruit mousse instead. BUT, it still worked really well in this cake!
This cake does have a lot of steps, but they are surprisingly simple, so don’t let that put you off!
Ingredients for the sponge
16oz butter or margarine
2oz cocoa powder
16oz caster sugar
16oz self raising flour
Ingredients for the Swiss-Meringue Buttercream
8 egg whites
500g of sugar
600g of unsalted butter cut into small chunks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Yellow food colouring
Ingredients for the Chocolate Mousse
82.5g dark chocolate
40ml double cream
1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
150ml double cream
Ingredients for the Passion Fruit Jelly
240ml passion fruit pulp (about 8 passion fruits)
3 tablespoons agar flakes or 1 1/2 tablespoons gelatine (not vegetarian)
240ml double cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 passion fruit halves
Handful of Cape Gooseberries
Handful of fresh strawberries
Method for the Sponge
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius and grease/line four round (20cm ish) sandwich tins. You can also dust the grease with cocoa powder if you wish
- Whisk together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy
- In a separate bowl bowl, whisk together the eggs, then add slowly to the creamed butter mixture
- Sieve your flour and cocoa powder into your wet mixture then fold in using a metal spoon
- Pour the mixture evenly into the four tins and place in the oven for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
- Remove from the oven and turn out of the tins, then leave to fully cool
Method for the Swiss-Meringue Buttercream
- Pop your sugar and egg whites into a pan over a low heat and whisk together until the sugar is just melted and egg whites are slightly frothy
- Remove from the heat and whisk (using an electric whisk – hand or stand) until smooth glossy peaks form
- Slowly, one chunk at a time add the butter to the meringue mixture until all the butter is combined. When the butter is combined, add the vanilla extract
- If the mixture looks as though it has slightly curdled or separated, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, just keep whisking until everything comes together. If you think you’ve exhausted the whisking and it’s not working, take a small amount of the mixture and melt it, then whisk it back in to the rest
- Pop half the mixture into a piping bag
- Take three of your sponge layers and pipe a ring of icing around the outside on the top, making sure there are no gaps and set aside
- In terms of colours of your butter icing, I found mine was quite yellow and a hack I found online was to add lilac food colouring to try to take it whiter. Mine ended up a nude shade, which I don’t mind, but of course, different butters will create different shades!
- I split the buttercream into two, so I could keep one plain and then I added yellow food colouring to the rest and popped in a piping bag with a star-fish type nozzle
Method for the Chocolate Mousse
- Whisk together the cocoa powder and 40ml double cream
- In a bain marie, break up the chocolate and add this with the butter and your chocolate cream until the chocolate is fully melted
- Whisk the rest of the cream separately, then fold into the chocolate mixture
- Add to a piping bag.
- Take one of your sponge layers and slice and layer strawberries onto it, then pipe the mousse into the middle of the sponge layers, ensuring none seeps out from the icing ring you’ve previously piped
- Pop the sponge layer in the fridge to set
Method for the Passion Fruit Jelly
- Scoop out the pulp and juice of 8 passion fruits (including seeds) and pop in a pot on the hob
- Add the cream, maple syrup and agar flakes (or gelatine) and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until all the flakes have dissolved.
- Take off the heat and run through a sieve to remove the seeds. Leave to cool for a few minutes, so it’s not piping hot. Then take two of your sponge layers and pour into the middle, ensuring none seeps out from the icing ring you’ve previously piped
- Pop the two sponge layers in the fridge to set
Method to construct and decorate the Cake
- Take your sponge cakes and layer them one on top of the other starting with a passion fruit jelly layer, then the chocolate mousse, then another passion fruit and finish with your plain sponge
- Using the original colour buttercream, create a crumb layer around the cake, ready for icing
- Ice over your crumb layer and smooth
- Decorate your cake with the yellow icing. I created waves at the bottom of the cake (hides any rough seams!) and piped blobs onto the top. Using the rest of the icing, I created a ‘stage’ in the middle of the cake to place the fruit on.
- Arrange the three passion fruit halves in the middle and open the leaves of the cape gooseberries and twist back, then arrange on top
If all goes to plan, when you cut into the Chocolate and Passion Fruit Cake, you should have perfectly defined layers and pops of that beautiful passion fruit colour. I made sure to cut the first slice to see how it looked and I have to say I was pretty pleased with it! I have to say, my sponges were a little disappointing, not rising as they usually would, but they also ended up with large air bubbles throughout. As always, please do let me know if you attempt this Chocolate and Passion Fruit Cake and don’t forget to tag me on instagram!