It seems I have a bit of a thing for three layer cakes; if you use 15cm/6in pans they turn out perfectly proportioned, tall enough to look impressive, but not so huge that they are impossible to eat. In fact I use my 15cm tins far more often than any others I own (and I own quite a few…), as they are such a convenient size if you don’t have loads of people to feed; I also want to get some really diddy 10cm ones to make tiny towering cakes with!
This lovely three layer passion fruit, white chocolate and coconut cake consists of moist coconut cake, brushed with passion fruit syrup for extra moisture and flavour; topped with smooth, fluffy white chocolate swiss meringue buttercream and creamy, tangy passion fruit curd. It has a rich, creamy flavour from the coconut and white chocolate, and the passion fruit adds a burst of freshness; the bright yellow curd also makes it look very vibrant and summery.
The cakes get their coconut flavour from both coconut milk and desiccated coconut, I also added a bit of coconut extract, but don’t worry if you can’t find any, it is still perfectly coconutty without it. The passion fruit curd is really easy to make, and tastes so good! It is really just a case of stirring everything together over a low heat – simple. The only thing to remember is to not let it boil, so don’t get impatient and turn the heat up too high or you may end up with sweet scrambled eggs…
The recipe makes more passion fruit curd than you need, but that is no bad thing; it will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge (so you can make it in advance), but the leftovers only lasted a couple of days in my house…It is seriously good piled on top of toast or swirled through yoghurt, or you can use it to fill tarts or cupcakes (or simply eat it by the spoonful…). You can use lemon curd in place of the passion fruit if you wish, to make an equally delicious lemon, coconut and white chocolate cake. You may also end up with a little leftover buttercream, but it freezes well and is handy to have in the freezer for emergency cake situations; just let it thaw to room temperature then re-whip it until it’s smooth.
- The pulp of 6 large passion fruit (about 120ml/1/2 cup)
- juice of ½ a lemon
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 150g (3/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 100g (1 stick) butter, cubed
- 150ml (1/2 + ⅛ cup) full fat coconut milk
- 40g (1/2 cup) unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp coconut extract (optional)
- 200g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 170g (2/3 cup + 1 tbsp) softened butter
- 2 large eggs
- 200g (1 + ⅔ cup) plain flour
- 1¾ tsp baking powder
- 3 large passion fruit
- 30ml (2 tbsp) water
- 25g (2 tbsp) sugar
- 3 medium egg whites
- 140g (3/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 210g (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) butter, softened but still cool
- 150g (5 oz) white chocolate, chopped
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- whisk together the passion fruit pulp, lemon juice, eggs, yolks and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan until smooth. Add the butter and place the pan over a low heat. Stir constantly until the butter has melted and the curd has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, it should be the consistency of custard. Do not allow the mixture to boil or it may curdle. Pour the hot curd into a couple of sterilised jars and keep in the fridge.
- Place the coconut milk in a small pan and bring to the boil, remove from the heat and stir in the desiccated coconut then the vanilla and coconut extracts. Set aside for about half an hour until the mixture has cooled and the desiccated coconut has softened.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4, grease three 15cm/6in round cake tins and line the bases and sides with greaseproof paper.
- Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Fold it into the butter mixture a little at a time, alternating with spoonfuls of the cooled coconut mixture.
- Divide the batter between the prepared tins and level it, bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- While the cakes are baking make the passion fruit syrup. Press the passion fruit pulp through a sieve to extract the juice, really scrape the seeds to get as much juice as possible.
- Place the juice in a small pan (discard the seeds) with the water and sugar, heat until the sugar has dissolved.
- When the cakes are baked, place them on a wire rack (in their tins) and poke holes all over the surface with a toothpick. Brush the cakes with the syrup, giving them several coats until you have used all of the syrup. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins before turning out and removing the paper.
- Melt the white chocolate either in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in short bursts in the microwave, set aside while you make the meringue.
- Place the egg whites and sugar in a large, spotlessly clean heatproof bowl (the bowl of your stand mixer if you have one) and place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, do not let the base of the bowl touch the water. Gently whisk the mixture until the sugar has dissolved, if you rub some between your fingers you shouldn't feel any graininess. If should reach 60C/140F on a thermometer.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk on a high speed with an electric mixer until it has formed a thick, glossy meringue and is completely cool to the touch, about 10 minutes.
- Turn the speed down to low and add the butter a tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition, until you have added all the butter and the buttercream has become smooth and silky. It may become soupy or curdled looking, just keep whisking and it will come back together. (If it doesn't, you may need to add a couple of tablespoons more of butter. Or if it remains soupy, refrigerate it for 15-30 minutes then carry on whisking on a high speed. If it remains curdled, place a couple of heaped tablespoons of the mixture in a separate bowl and microwave it until it melts, then drizzle it back into the rest of the buttercream slowly, while whisking on a high speed.)
- Once the buttercream is smooth, whisk in the vanilla paste on a low speed, then fold in the white chocolate (which by now should have cooled, but still be melted).
- Place the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a large, plain nozzle.
- Scoop some of the passion fruit curd into a piping bag and snip of the corner just wide enough for the pips to pass through.
- Place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving platter, pipe blobs of buttercream all over the surface (pipe a ring of blobs around the edge then another inside that etc), drizzle over a very generous amount of the passion fruit curd. Top with another cake layer and repeat, then again with the final layer.
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