A wonderful celebration cake with three layers of moist coconut cake, a passionfruit curd and a coconut buttercream frosting
November 30 would have been my mom’s 69th birthday. It’s still surreal to know that she’s no longer with us. I still try to talk to her, and every time I go home to visit family, I make sure to stop by the cemetery to say hello to her. Hopefully she hears me.
My family always makes it a point to remember all the fun and hysterical memories of my mom. With Thanksgiving just behind us, we like to joke about how much my mom enjoyed eating roasted yams. She was the only one in the family that would eat them. My brother and I flat-out refused to (and still stay socially distanced from them), and she would get so mad.
My husband’s favorite memory of this was over one Thanksgiving when my best friend and her family came over to my parents’ house. Mom had somewhere between 7-10 yams all wrapped in aluminum foil. She, being the food pusher, told everyone to eat a yam. Nobody did. If I recall, my brother and I might have run to another room so my mom couldn’t shove the yams down our throats.
I miss her every day, even if she was loud and vivacious. And I even miss the yam-pushing. I wanted to celebrate her this year with a tropical cake since she wasn’t as big of a chocolate cake fan. This cake has 3 layers of the best coconut cake EVER (this is coming from a person who doesn’t like coconut). I also made a passionfruit curd for the filling and topped the cake with a coconut flavored buttercream.
Each component on its own was blissful. My family and I sampled the cake scraps, some of the passionfruit curd and the leftover frosting. When we tried the cake in its full form, we were smitten. This is a cake that will be a family favorite going forward, and it will remind me of my mom too.
Happy (belated) birthday, Mommy. I miss you.
Husband’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
Addie’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
My rating: 5 out of 5
Coconut passionfruit cake
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- ⅔ cup passionfruit pulp or puree
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 and ½ cups (375 milliliters) full fat coconut milk divided (If you use a standard can of coconut milk, you will use the leftover for the frosting below)
- 1 Tablespoon coconut extract
- 3 cups (340 grams) cake flour
- 2 and ⅓ cups 470 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 and ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter room temperature
Coconut buttercream frosting
- 4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter softened
- 10 cups powdered sugar plus more if needed
- 2-3 Tablespoons coconut extract
- ½ cup full fat coconut milk If you used a can of coconut milk for the cake, you should have about ½ cup remaining that you can use for the frosting. Don't buy extra milk just for the frosting. 🙂
Make the passionfruit curd
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, egg and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium sized saucepan set over medium heat, heat the butter and passionfruit together until the butter has fully melted. Stir so it's fully incorporated.
- Slowly drizzle about ½ to ¾ cup of the hot passionfruit mixture into the bowl with the eggs. Whisk vigorously so the eggs don't scramble. Then pour this back into the saucepan.
- Keep stirring until the mixture thickens almost to pudding consistency (It may take about 5-8 minutes).
- Pour the curd through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of any cooked egg bits. Cover and allow the curd to completely cool in the refrigerator, at least 2 hours and up to overnight. You can make this curd a few days in advance if needed.
Make the cake
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Generously grease and line three 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg whites, ½ cup of the coconut milk, and the coconut extract until well blended. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt (I did this part by hand with a spatula).
- Add the butter and remaining 1 cup of coconut milk and mix on the very lowest speed. Once there is no danger of flour flying everywhere, turn the mixer to medium speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Turn the mixer back down to low and add the egg white mixture in 3 separate additions.
- Evenly distribute your batter into your prepared baking pans. Bake in your preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing them and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the frosting
- In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. You might not need the full 10 cups. Just taste it along the way for the amount of sweetness you desire.
- Add the coconut extract and coconut milk and mix well.
- If your frosting is too thick, add more coconut milk (or water or milk of choice if you run out). If it's too runny, add more powdered sugar. Set aside until ready to use.
Assemble the cake
- Using a serrated knife, cut off any part of the cake that has domed. You want a flat surface. The leftovers are great, so set them aside for snacking!
- Place one layer on a cake plate, cake stand or other plate.
- At this point, I recommend putting some of the frosting in a piping bag (or a zip-top bag with a corner cut off) with a round piping tip. You are going to pipe a circle of frosting around the circumference of the cake. Essentially, you are building an icing "wall."
- Once your icing wall is built, fill the inside with some passionfruit curd. Don't make the curd higher than your wall or else it will ooze out later.
- If desired, you can pipe a layer of frosting on top of your curd (I used my piping bag to pipe one gigantic spiral).
- Top with another layer of cake and repeat.
- Top with the final layer of cake. Gently spread on a thin layer of frosting. Then put the cake in the refrigerator to firm up. Since this cake is very moist, you will need the frosting to set before you add the remaining frosting. Otherwise, the cake will start to tear when you frost it (crumbs everywhere - and in your frosting!).
- Once the cake has cooled and the thin layer of frosting has hardened, you can frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting. If desired, you can pipe additional designs on top.
- Slice and enjoy!