I based this cake on a strawberry cake from Milk bar. Instead of using lemon, I used passion fruit. I love how it is a naked cake and you can see all the delicious layers! The passion fruit and strawberry go together perfectly. Passion fruit by itself is kind of tangy, but with the liquid cheesecake and vanilla cake, it all comes together deliciously! I made this cake for my Aunt Teresa’s Birthday!
This cake has 6 different recipes that make up the whole cake. You can make them all ahead of time except the glaze. When I made this cake, it took me 3 days. Remember when you have assembled the cake, it still needs to freeze over night! Here are the different components of the cake!
makes 1 (6-inch) layer cake, 5 to 6 inches tall. serves 8-12
1 recipe vanilla cake
20 g lemon juice (1 ½ tsp)
1 recipe pickled strawberry jam
1 recipe passion fruit cheesecake
½ recipe milk crumbs
1 recipe passion fruit glaze
1 (6-inch) cake ring
2 strips acetate, each 3 inches wide and 20 inches long
- makes 1 quarter sheet pan
- 115g (8 tbsp [1 stick]) butter, at room temperature
- 250g (1 ¼ cups) granulated sugar
- 60g (¼ cup, tightly packed) light brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 110g (½ cup) buttermilk
- 75g (½ cup) grapeseed oil
- 12g (1 tbs) vanilla extract
- 185g (1 ½ cups) cake flour
- 4g (1 tsp) baking powder
- 4g (1 tsp) kosher salt
- pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)
- makes about 400g
- 240g (1 ¼ cup) strawberry puree
- 180g (1 cup) sugar
- 8g (2 tsp) pectin
- 2g (½ tsp) kosher salt
- 18g (2 tsp) sherry wine vinegar
- 12g (1 ½ tsp) white wine vinegar
- makes about 325 g (1 1/2 cups)
- 225g (8 oz) cream cheese
- 150g (¾ cup) sugar
- 6g (½ tsp) cornstarch
- 2g (½ tsp) kosher salt
- 25g (2 tbs) milk
- 1 egg
- makes about 360 g (1 ½ cups)
- 100 g passion fruit puree ½ cup
- 65 g sugar 1/3 cup
- 2 eggs
- 1 gelatin sheet
- 170 g butter, very cold 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks)
- 2 g kosher salt ½ teaspoon
- makes about 260g (2 ¼ cups)
- 40g (½ cup) milk powder
- 40g (¼ cup) flour
- 12g (2 tbs) cornstarch
- 25g (2 tbs) sugar
- 2g (½ tsp) kosher salt
- 55g (4 tbs) butter, melted
- 20g (¼ cup) milk powder
- 90g (3 oz) white chocolate, melted
- 100 ml water
- 1 tbspn sugar
- Pulp of 1 passion fruit
- 1 1/2 tspn gelatin powder soaked in 1 tbpn of cold water
- heat the oven to 350°f.
- combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high again for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.
- on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely mixed in. stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- on very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. scrape down the sides of the bowl. if you see any lumps of cake flour in there while you’re scraping, mix for another 45 seconds.
- pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a silpat. using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. give the bottom of your sheet pan a tap on the countertop to even out the layer.
- bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. the cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. at 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.
- take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer . the cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.
- whisk together the sugar, pectin, and salt in a medium pot or saucepan. slowly whisk in the strawberry puree, sherry wine vinegar, and white wine vinegar and bring to a full, rolling boil. reduce the heat and cook at a low boil for 2 minutes to activate the pectin and turn the puree into a beautiful jam.
- once the pectin has been activated and coats the back of a spoon, remove the jam from the heat. the jam can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- heat the oven to 300°f.
- put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar has been completely incorporated. scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream, then whisk in the egg until the slurry is homogenous.
- with the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg slurry. paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- line the bottom and sides of a 6 x 6-inch baking pan with plastic wrap. pour the cheesecake batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. gently shake the pan. the cheesecake should be firmer and more set toward the outer boundaries of the baking pan but still be jiggly and loose in the dead center. if the cheesecake is jiggly all over, give it 5 minutes more. and 5 minutes more if it needs it, but it’s never taken me more than 25 minutes to underbake one. if the cheesecake rises more than a 1/4 inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately.
- cool the cheesecake completely, to finish the baking process and allow the cheesecake to set. the final product will resemble a cheesecake, but it will be pipeable and pliable enough to easily spread or smear, while still having body and volume. once cool, the cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up 1 week.
- Put the passion fruit puree and sugar in a blender and blend until the sugar granules have dissolved. Add the eggs and blend on low until you have a bright orange-yellow mixture. Transfer the contents of the blender to a medium pot or saucepan. Clean the blender canister.
- Bloom the gelatin (see below).
- Heat the passion fruit mixture over low heat, whisking regularly. As it heats up, it will begin to thicken; keep a close eye on it. Once the mixture boils, remove it from the stove and transfer it to the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin, butter, and salt and blend until the mixture is thick shiny, and super-smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a heatproof container, and put in the fridge until the curd has cooled completely, at least 30 minutes. The curd can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; do not freeze.
- blooming the gelatin: get it right, or do it twice
- In order to incorporate it seamlessly into a mixture, gelatin must be softened, or “bloomed,” first. To bloom any amount of sheet gelatin, soak it in a small bowl of cold water. The gelatin is bloomed when it has become soft, after about 2 minutes. If the gelatin still has hard bits to it, it needs to bloom longer. If it is so soft it is falling apart, it is overbloomed; discard the gelatin and start over. Gently squeeze the bloomed gelatin to remove any excess water before using.
- To bloom powdered gelatin (any amount between ½ teaspoon and 2 teaspoons), sprinkle it evenly onto the surface of 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small cup. If you pour the powdered gelatin into a pile on top of the water, the granules in the center will remain hard and will not bloom. If you use too much water to bloom the gelatin, it will dilute the flavor of the recipe and its consistency will be looser than intended. Allow the granules to soften entirely in the cold water for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Once it is bloomed, in order to incorporate either kind of gelatin into a mixture, you need to dissolve the gelatin in hot, but not boiling, liquid – usually a bit of whatever it will be mixed into. If the gelatin gets too hot, it will lose its strength and you will have to start over again.
- Mix the passion fruit curd with the liquid cheesecake until just mixed.
- heat the oven to 250°f.
- combine the 40 g (½ cup) milk powder, the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. toss with your hands to mix. add the melted butter and toss, using a spatula, until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.
- spread the clusters on a parchment- or silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. the crumbs should be sandy at that point, and your kitchen should smell like buttery heaven. cool the crumbs completely.
- In a heavy bottom pan, add water and sugar let them simmer on medium heat. Occasionally stir them till sugar dissolves, next add in passion fruit pulp and gelatin soaked in water. Bring it to simmer till the gelatin dissolves.
- Let the glaze to cool in ice water bath till it becomes syrupy, them immediately pour it on top of the cake. Cover with fresh wrappers and refrigerate it. Serve the cake cold with warm tea or a cock tail!
- crumble any milk crumb clusters that are larger than ½ inch in diameter, and put the crumbs in a medium bowl. add the 20 g (¼ cup) milk powder and toss together until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
- pour the white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until your clusters are enrobed. then continue tossing them every 5 minutes until the white chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky. the crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.
One thing I would do different next time with this cake is to make the milk crumbs smaller. I made them pretty big and had a hard time cutting the cake and cutting through the milk crumbs.
cake assembly instructions
1. put a piece of parchment or a silpat on the counter. invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or silpat from the bottom of the cake. use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. these are your top 2 cake layers. the remaining cake “scrap” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.
layer 1, the bottom
2. clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a silpat. use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring.
3. put the cake scraps together inside the ring and use the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together into a flat even layer.
4. dunk a pastry brush in the lemon juice and give the layer of cake a good, healthy bath of half of the juice.
5. use the back of a spoon to spread the pickled strawberry jam in an even layer over the cake.
6. sprinkle half of the milk crumbs evenly over the pickled strawberry jam. use the back of your hand to anchor them in place.
7. use the back of a spoon to spread one-half of the lemon cheesecake as evenly as possible over the crumbs.
layer 2, the middle
8. with your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall – high enough to support the height of the finished cake. set a cake round on top of the lemon cheesecake, and repeat the process for layer 1 (if 1 of your 2 cake rounds is worse than the other, use it here in the middle and save the prettier one for the top).
layer 3, the top
9. nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the passion fruit glaze. Garnish with passion fruit seeds.
10. transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. the cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
11. at least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. gently peel off the acetate, and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (wrapped well in plastic, the cake can be refrigerated for up to 5 days).
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