Valentine's Day

A Two-Layered Passionfruit Cake That Requires No Extra Work (or Pans)

February 11, 2017

Valentine's Day is a lovely concept: A day dedicated to expressing your love in all manner of small and large ways. I wish we had one every week, but we don't, and I realize it happening only once a year can raise expectations to impossible-to-meet heights. But what if we all considered it an opportunity to pause and be deliberate in performing an act of love for someone: a friend, a spouse, a new boyfriend, or even a sibling. I still send handmade cards to my sisters, and it's one of my favorite parts of Valentine's Day.

Small gestures are nice. But so are large, sweeping romantic acts. For me, I welcome any excuse to bake something elaborate. Traditional Valentine's Day desserts tend to be rich and chocolate-y or pink and heart-shaped. This year, I'm translating romantic desserts in a different way: A luscious, rumpled, sexy meringue cake with a smooth, creamy whipped passionfruit cream filling.

The cake looks complicated, but it's actually pretty simple to make. Each half consists of a thin layer of buttery yellow cake topped with a chewy-crisp meringue. You bake the two layers together in the same pan, so it doesn't require as many steps or as much assembly as it appears. First, you make the butter cake batter and divide that between two pans. Then you make a simple meringue (egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar) and spread that on top of the cake batter. You bake the cakes while you mix up the filling, which is a simple combination of whipped cream, mascarpone, and passionfruit pulp.

Feel free to swoon at those layers. Photo by Posie Harwood

Passionfruit, as it turns out, is a bit pricey! But I am infatuated with its exotic flavor. It's sweet and fruity with a slightly sour edge. I used two passionfruit in my filling, but you could easily add more if you want to dial up the flavor. I'd also recommend buying an extra and drizzling some passionfruit pulp over the top of the cake for a nice visual effect.

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This is a fun project, and it's an unusual-enough result that I felt really excited about serving it to people I love. There's nothing that would make my heart beat faster than a slice of homemade cake that's creamy, sweet, sour, fruity, soft, and crunchy all at once.

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Top Comment:
“FYI, I've sometimes found Goya frozen passion fruit pulp at my local supermarket at a reasonable price!”
— Joy H.

And if you don't have someone this year to bake a cake for, make it for yourself. Pour a glass of wine, cook yourself a fancy pasta, and cut a large slice of this for yourself for dessert. In words of the very wise poet Yrsa Daley-Ward, "romance your own damn self!"

What are you baking for Valentine's Day? Tell us in the comments.

Posie Harwood is a writer, photographer, and food stylist based in New York. You can read more of her writing here.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
    Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
  • lydia.sugarman
  • Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
    Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
  • Lenore
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Joy H. February 11, 2017
FYI, I've sometimes found Goya frozen passion fruit pulp at my local supermarket at a reasonable price!
lydia.sugarman February 11, 2017
Seriously? Grams of butter? You're in New York! Nothing else in this recipe is stated in metric measurements, so please just state the quantity in ounces, if for no other reason than consistency.
Riddley G. February 12, 2017
Hi Lydia! Thanks for your suggestion. A lot of baking recipes, for complete accuracy, list metric measurements, which was our intention (it had nothing to do with locale). We have, however amended the recipe to include the quantity in ounces, grams, and 'sticks', if you will, so there's not any confusion. Thanks again!
Lenore February 13, 2017
Personally, I LOVE to see weights for ingredients, so thank you for that! I buy rolled Amish butter in lieu of organic or Kerrygold or similar and it doesn't come marked in a typical manner, so this really helps me to just throw into a bowl and use my digital scale! :-)
lydia.sugarman February 13, 2017
Yes, as noted in my original comment, it's about being consistent in stating amounts of ingredients. The butter was the only ingredient that was stated in a metric quantity.

If a recipe is interesting enough, I'll deal with searching conversions for grams to ounces.
Lenore February 13, 2017
Thank you RIDDLEY for striving to be helpful and accurate for all of your readers! I appreciate it! And as someone else mentioned earlier, Goya Passion fruit pulp is available in the frozen section of Walmart and other chains very inexpensively, but you can miss it if you don't know to look for it labeled in Spanish as "maracuya". I've seen it labeled in both English & Spanish.