I had to whip up a cake quickly for a dinner with some dear friends of ours, and I have a go-to vanilla frosting and a simple vanilla egg cake in my repertoire, but I wanted a little something special in the middle of the cake to spice things up. I was given some amazing Rare Bird preserves as a Christmas gift, and one was a jarred passion fruit curd. Curds are a nice way to fill a cake, and there are quite a few jarred at the grocery store in the jam aisle to make things easy for you if you don't have passion fruit. I often buy a lemon curd and have it on hand in the fridge for emergencies.
Curds and custards can be tricky to fill a cake with, but my method below does help the filling from seeping out the edges. You build up a mini wall of frosting around the edge of the cake layers. It works like a charm!
The cake was a hit. Our friends liked the unexpected tropical twist in the center. A coconut frosting might be a neat variation for an even more tropical flavor profile. Maybe next time!
2 2/3 cup flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Whipped Vanilla Frosting
1 cup milk (full fat or low fat)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 well rounded teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup frosting
1 cup jarred passion fruit curd
(we used rare bird passion fruit curd. You can replace it with a jarred lemon or lime too for more of a citrus twist!)
Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray 9" round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, and lay a cut-to-size piece of parchment onto the bottom of the pan. Set pan aside.
In a medium size bowl mix the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Whip the butter until fluffy and creamy using a stand mixer. Add the sugar and whip until light and fluffy, scraping the sides as you go. Add the eggs, and the vanilla extract, and whip until light and fluffy. Alternate the flour with the milk until just combined. Pour the batter evenly into the pans, and bake on a center rack for about 25-30 minutes.
Toothpick in the center should come out clean, and the cakes have a light golden color on top. Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then invert to a wire rack to cool completely.
While cakes cool, make the frosting.
In a small saucepan over medium low heat, whisk flour with the milk and the vanilla. Whisk constantly, moving to a spoon midway until mixture becomes very thick. Take off heat and cool completely. It may be a good idea to get this done earlier so it has time to sit and cool. If this mixture is warm in any way, the frosting will not come together, but separate and get congealed and well...weird.
With a mixer, whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Gradually add the milk mixture a few Tablespoons at a time until all combined. It should look like a fluffy butter cream, and quite spreadable.
Quickly make the filling by mixing the curd with 1/2 cup of the frosting. Chill until ready to use.
Take the first layer of cake and place on your cake platter, and pipe or spread a "wall" around the edge of the cake. Then spoon the curd filling at the center. The frosting around the edge allows the filling to stay at the center. Gently place the 2nd cake layer on top, and do the same thing. Then place the third. Spread a thin crumb layer all over the top and sides of the cake. Chill the cake for 10 minutes, then frost the cake completely and serve. Keep chilled.