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A Passionfruit Birthday Cake

I know it’s clichéd but this year is moving by so fast and suddenly I am turning another year older. My birthday used to be filled with excitement but this year it seems to be reminding me that I am just getting older so if I actually want to follow my dreams I better work out what they are asap! But as a good friend reminds me, I have all the time in the world!

In saying that, this is actually just a small part of how I am feeling. Realistically I am excited for the next year of my life. I am excited for the challenges and the new adventures and I am actually feeling pretty satisfied with my place in the world.

Passionfruit Sponge CakeLast week I shared my experience on the Whole30 – an extreme diet that had me eating super clean for the month of February. This gave me some great results and I was so motivated to continue this new found healthy lifestyle. So much so that I wasn’t even planning on having a birthday cake!!

Then Jarryd brought home a bag of fresh, gorgeous passionfruits his boss had grown. Just the smell of passionfruit is divine and I really wanted to make something special with them. Who was I kidding? It’s not a birthday without cake!

After a month off sugar I didn’t want anything that would be too sweet. I had the idea of a light vanilla sponge cake that I could top with fresh passionfruit. The perfect combination of sweet and tart. It was a more elegant birthday cake than I have had in previous years – just what I was looking for.

There were a few things I was looking for in a sponge cake recipe. I cannot remember the last time I made one, so I didn’t have any idea where to start. I wanted something that was going to be easy enough to make with minimal risk of failure as a dense sponge is a bad sponge and I didn’t really have the time (or the patience) for it to fail.

I came across Violet, a passionfruit sponge cake recipe from Not Quite Nigella. I absolutely love that she names all of her cakes. It’s super quirky and just gives personality to these spectacular creations. I have made a few of her recipes before with success so I felt pretty confident that this would give me the light, airy sponge cake that I was looking for despite not being a traditional recipe.

Passionfruit Sponge CakeThe thing I loved most about this recipe was that it called for whole eggs. I was really not interested in having a bunch of leftover yolks having to decide how I should use them so they would not go to waste. This recipe is a lot easier if you have a stand mixer. I don’t have one and just used handheld electric beaters which worked fine, just took a bit longer with a bit more effort.

The original recipe calls for the cakes to be sandwiched with a mango and passionfruit curd. I loved this idea, but not having any mango and wanting to keep the cake completely dairy-free I thought a curd was probably not going to be realistic. I kept thinking about it however and decided that I really wanted a passionfruit curd, so I had to find a way to make it work without butter.

Enter coconut oil, the magic ingredient. Seriously though, is there anything that coconut oil can’t do? It is probably the most versatile ingredient in my cupboard. This is such an easy curd to make. Literally everything goes in the pan at once and you just whisk (careful not to scramble the eggs though!). The smell of the coconut and the passionfruit is incredible and there is a high risk that you will just want to eat this hot straight out of the pot – and that’s ok as this recipe makes a little more than the cake needs! Any leftovers can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge for a few days – eat it on everything!

The final element for my cake was a whipped coconut cream. If you are not worried about this cake being dairy-free, regular whipped cream will be perfect and easier however this coconut cream is pretty delicious and adds that tropical flavour to the cake in combination with the passionfruit.

A few tips for the whipped coconut cream; make sure to leave your cans of coconut milk in the fridge overnight for best results and if you are worried the cream is not working, just keep whipping with your electric mixer – it took a lot longer than I expected but eventually it formed stiff peaks and was a perfect texture to spread on the cake.

Passionfruit Sponge CakeI cannot believe I nearly allowed my birthday to pass without making a cake. There are only a few special occasions in a year, and you only turn 27 once, so why not eat the cake! I hope you enjoy my dairy-free passionfruit sponge cake as much as I did.

Passionfruit Vanilla Sponge Cake

A light vanilla sponge cake filled with lemon and passionfruit curd, whipped coconut cream, and topped with fresh passionfruit.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: Dessert
Author: Sally


For the Sponge Cake

  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup cornflour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 eggs ,room temperature
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

For the Passionfruit & Lemon Curd*

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • zest of one small lemon
  • juice of one small lemon
  • pulp from 1 large passionfruit

For the Coconut Cream

  • 2 cans coconut milk chilled in the fridge overnight
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract


For the Sponge Cake

  • Preheat oven to 180C and grease 2 x 20 cm round cake tins with oil spray or butter.
  • Sift flour, cornflour, and baking powder 3 times and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, place eggs, sugar, and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture triples in size.
  • Gently fold sifted flour though the egg mixture with a metal spoon ensuring all flour is mixed through and there are no lumps.
  • Drizzle in oil and continue to fold through until everything is combined. Do not over mix.
  • Pour mixture evenly into the 2 pans and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until cooked through and cake springs back when gently touched.
  • Let cool on a wire rack in the tin.

For the Passionfruit & Lemon Curd

  • Put all ingredients in a pot over medium heat.
  • Continually whisk together until mixture become thick.
  • As soon as it starts to thicken, take off heat and continue to whisk. Mixture will continue to thicken as you whisk.
  • Set aside and let cool.

For the Coconut Cream

  • Scoop out the thick coconut cream that has separated from the water. Discard water (or use in a smoothie).
  • Place coconut cream in a large bowl and begin whipping using an electric mixer.
  • Slowly add in sifted icing sugar, ensuring it is fully combined before adding in more.
  • Add in vanilla, and continue whipping cream until it thickens and peaks begin to form.

To assemble the cake:

  • Remove the cakes from the tins using a butter knife around the edges.
  • Place 1 cake on a serving plate. Using a spatula, spread over half of the coconut cream.
  • Spoon a generous amount of the passionfruit and lemon curd over the coconut cream.
  • Place the second cake upside down, so the top is flat, and lightly press down to secure.
  • Top the cake with the remaining coconut cream and the pulp from 1-2 fresh passionfruits.


Adapted from Not Quite Nigella
*This recipe for Passionfruit & Lemon Curd yields a bit more than is needed for this cake. Store any remaining curd in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a week.


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