KBC is now two years old! Well, two years and a month because it's taken me a while to get to this celebratory post.
And we'll also celebrate because I made a cake! And after making this cake, I'm not sure I'm really good at making cakes. But more on that later.
I know last year, I said I was going to do all of these things like be better at blogging, share more and make my site the best it can be. I was ambitious about wanting to increase readership, tracking traffic and religiously posting and liking on Instagram. But lately, I am less likely to check stats and post on Instagram daily. I mean there is the daily check to make sure I had some readership and the leisurely scroll through Instagram but I think I got burned out from focusing on numbers and likes rather than the content and stories themselves. I had to let that go and accept that it was okay to not post on this blog every week and to not be obsessive about scrolling through my entire Instagram feed so I never missed a photo or get annoyed about losing followers. Okay, I will admit, getting below 1,000 again would be annoying. This year, I'm going to try to focus on posting things because I care about and like rather than wondering if this is going to be the next post that boosts my readership.
I have found that things take time and sometimes not doing anything for a while and just letting the cogs and wheels turn is what is needed for both me and this site.
But let's talk about cake.
I've had this cake in the back of my mind for many months. I originally wanted to make it for a friend's birthday in September but I wasn't able to make it then because I couldn't find fresh passion fruit anywhere. For me, layer cakes require special occasions because I never make them. Remember what happened the last time? I got these passion fruits from work so I took it as a sign to make the cake I had been meaning to for so long.
Passion fruit and I have a long history that started back before I even knew what it was. Growing up, we used to drink Welch's Passion Fruit Juice on the very rare occasion that Kristen and I were allowed to drink juice (read soda). I liked the taste. It was tart, sweet and had this tropical flavor that was like pineapple juice but different. Then, I moved to Hawaii and we were introduced to POG. It wasn't pure passion fruit juice with the addition of orange and guava but boy, was that a good combo! And best on the airplane to and from Hawaii. That stuff goes down like a syrup. It is so sweet but tangy and best downed ice cold when the humidity feels like a giant thick cloud of hot. I instantly started to realize I was in a land where passion fruit was called lilikoi and it was as common as watermelon.
The first time I saw an actual passion fruit was with an ex-boyfriend who had a tree of these beautifully delicious fruits in his yard. It was summer, just as the stifling summer air was being pushed away by the tradewinds and the sky was beginning to pull over it's nightly blanket. His mother had picked a few and cut some open, careful not to let the precious juice spill out and soak into the flat surface of the cutting board. She gently scooped out the bright yellow seeds and juice and placed it directly over vanilla ice cream that was melting from the warmth of the surrounding air. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical. For one, I don't really like seeds in things and two, passion fruits look alien. But, I knew it was a flavor I liked so it couldn't be all that bad. That first spoonful was a mixture of creamy vanilla and that tart passion fruit flavor I had grown to love over time. And then the fine snap of a seed or two. I gobbled it up.
My time in Hawaii came and went before I went to the Mainland for college where passion fruit became exotic again. Thankfully, I live(d) in a town where passion fruit was not an unknown flavor, especially if you went to one of its many boba tea places. I'm always happiest with a passion fruit tea with black tapioca pearls and knowing that passion fruit is still accessible.
And then, I found out the grocery store I work at has actual passion fruit AND POG. I often have to peruse the produce department looking for things when one day I saw them. They were dark purple in hue and nestled between all the other common tropical fruits just waiting to be cut open. So I kept in mind they were there, knowing that I one day wanted to make a cake with passion fruit curd in the middle. And here we are now.
Making this cake was not a cake walk. Don't let that scare you away though! It was definitely just my errors. First, the curd wouldn't thicken because I was impatient and didn't let it fully thicken to 170ºF like I should have so it didn't set properly. I fixed it though, and although the texture was a bit tackier than normal. Second, my stand mixer is weird and likes to make explosive messes so it looked like someone had dumped all of the flour and milk on the kitchen counter. And lastly, Kristen was the one who actually frosted the cake. She said I looked like I was struggling so I happily handed the spatula to her.
This cake is so full of butter and sugar that part of me panics slightly just thinking about it. I have to remember it is a three layer monster of a cake that also includes frosting and curd. A perfect bite gets the tastes and textures of the curd, cake and frosting. The cake is buttery and dense, with the bright passion fruit flavor of the curd and ends with the creamy lemon-y frosting.
Here we are where the freezer supply is dwindling and I am already thinking of ways I would improve it. It's definitely delicious but I am picky when it comes to cake. It can't be too dry or too dense or too sweet or too heavy. Flavor-wise, this one is good. But next time, I would add more curd, level off the tops to make it easier to frost, find a cake that is less dense and more moist and make the frosting a bit thicker. Oh, and try for thinner cake layers so there is room for more curd. So probably, just an entirely different cake altogether?
Don't get me wrong, this one is good. Let's just say that since I never make cakes, once I make them, I want to continually perfect them like most things. Surprise, surprise.
To layer cakes, this blog and food love.
Lemon Passion Fruit Layer Cake
Slightly adapted from this cake
Yields: one 3 layer cake, enough for 12-14 people
The passion fruit curd can be made beforehand. It keeps in an air tight container for up to a month and in the freezer for up to a year.
The cake can also be made ahead of time, wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen until ready to use. It is probably easier to frost while frozen and chilled.
Store cake slices in the freezer for later eating. Can't you tell I love the freezer?
Passion Fruit Curd
- ¼ cup passion fruit pulp (from about 2 to 3 passion fruits)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced
- 3¼ cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1½ cups unsalted butter, softened
- 10 tablespoons (¾ cup) cream cheese, softened
- 4 to 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon milk, if needed
Passion Fruit Curd
Prepare ice water bath in a large bowl. Set aside.
Combine passion fruit pulp, lemon juice, sugar and egg yolks in a smaller heat-safe bowl or the top portion of a double-boiler. Whisk to combine.
Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the bowl with the passion fruit mixture on top to create a double-boiler. Stirring often, gently heat the mixture to 170ºF. This may take about 10 to 15 minutes. The mixture should thicken as it heats.
Once hot and thick, remove the passion fruit curd mixture from the pot of water. Stir in one slice of butter at a time, waiting until each piece completely melts before adding the next. Cool completely in the ice bath once all of the butter is mixed in. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd and refrigerate about 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium until smooth. Add the sugar and turn the mixer speed up to medium-high. Mix together until fluffy and pale in color.
With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla, eggs and egg yolks one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients. Once incorporated, stream in the milk until combined. Add in the second half of the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Mix again on medium for no more than 20 to 30 seconds, or until smooth.
Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 24 to 26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans. Allow to completely cool before trimming and/or frosting.
Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. With the mixer on low, carefully add in the sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest. Once incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium-high and whip. Continue to mix for 5 to 6 minutes until the frosting increases in volume and is pale in color. It should be light and fluffy. Add in the milk and/or more sugar until the desired consistency and sweetness is reached.
Once the curd has thickened and cakes have cooled, place the bottom layer of cake on a cake board or serving dish. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip with the frosting (If you don’t have a piping bag, fill a zip-top bag with frosting and snip off the corner). Use the frosting to create a “dam” to contain the passion fruit curd and keep it from squishing out between the layers of cake. Fill the frosting “dam” with half the passion fruit curd. Top the curd with the second layer of cake and repeat.
Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of frosting and refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Once chilled, ice the entire cake in the frosting. Enjoy!