This cake is my absolute favorite in the world. There simply is no better summertime cake than the Dee Lite Bakery Passion Fruit Cake. Unfortunately, you have to be in Hawaii to get one- and the only other option is to have one fedexed to you (half sheetpan size only from what i remember). So after years of wanting to make one of these so I could enjoy it away from home, I finally dove in and began seeking out my key ingredient. Passion Fruit juice. Not that sickly sweet stuff you see from Goya, or the stuff welches would have you believe is passion fruit, no, real passion fruit should almost turn your mouth inside out from tartness. Hawaiian passion fruits are bright yellow on the outside, not purple like you see in the US grocery stores. I know of at least three varieties of passion fruit, only by their outer color. Orange, yellow and purple all three varying somewhat in sweetness and tartness. It is a flavor that is often represented but rarely done well. There is too often a heavy handed apple juice, or peach juice sort of sweetness added to passion fruit to tame it for western audiences. If you want to experience the true glory of passion fruit in a dessert- read on.
At Shop Rite in Stamford, CT. I came across Dafruta Passion Fruit liquid concentrate- This is a brazilian product imported by liberty imports in Allentown, PA. Wegmans markets carries this as well as Hannafords in NY, MA and ME. I’m sure there are other passion fruit concentrates, but you must be sure that it contains NO sugar. You wouldn’t buy lemon juice that was presweetened, right? I mean, that’s Lemonade. OK, OK- on with it, right.
First things first- We need a fruit glaze for this cake, some to add to the frosting that will be used between the cake layers and some to top the cake with after frosting. A basic fruit glaze will call for too much of a sugar to fruit juice ratio so be sure to follow it the way I’ve outlined below.
1/2 C Sugar
2 TB Corn Starch
1 C Passion Fruit concentrate + 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water
2 Heaping TB of Strawberry Jelly (jam- no chunks) (we’re looking for a little glucose/corn syrup to disrupt the sugar recrystallization)
Begin with a 1/2 cup of the juice concentrate + 1/4 cup of water and add the sugar to it. Heat over medium heat stirring occasionally until it boils. While you’re heating the sugar and juice, add the corn starch to the remaining 1/2c of juice and 1/4c water and mix. Once the sugar syrup is boiling, add the corn starch mixture to the syrup and heat again until thickened and just before boiling. Finally, add the 2 Tablespoons of strawberry jelly and blend until smooth over medium to medium low heat and then remove from heat. it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and should taste sweet, but tart.
Now for the frosting- I used a traditional buttercream frosting-
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Blend the butter and Cream Cheese, then slowly add the confectioners sugar (slowly or you’ll discover why I suggest “slowly”) I usually stop the mixer, add a cup or so, then mix again until it’s combined, repeat until you’re done with the sugar. Finally- slowly add 1/2 pint of heavy cream to lighten up the density of the frosting.
Chill all of this.
On to the cakes- I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Vanilla cake mix, because it’s what I had available though I would have been fine with a plain yellow or white as well. I adjusted the recipe in a few ways- first, I added an extra egg, but combined the eggs in a different way too. take the whites of 2 eggs and add the remaining 3 yolks and 1 white to the oil and milk for the cake mixture and combine them. Meanwhile, take the 2 whites that you reserved and whip them to medium stiff peaks. once the batter has been mixed fold half of the batter into the egg whites, then fold in the rest, take care not to combine so much that you take the air out. Continue with the recipe the way the box suggests. I put a round cut piece of parchment in the bottom of both pans- it’s easier to remove the cakes later.
Let your cakes cool-
Now when you’re ready to frost- Begin by putting a coating of the glaze on your bottom layer and delicately brush it in- alternately you could also just brush a bit of the concentrate onto the cake top and it will soak right in. Then mix a little glaze into a small amount of frosting for your first layer top coating so you have a nice fruity middle frosting. Do a crumb layer followed by finishing up the rest of the cake. I made a top trim edge to keep the glaze from running down the sides of the cake (also so I could add a bit more glaze). Let your cake chill for at least an hour, uncovered. If you want to chill it overnight I would cover it.