Another Year, Another Birthday: Mango Passion Fruit Cake

May 8th, 2013

Mango Passion Fruit Cake

This last weekend was my birthday, and I have to say it was one of my most memorable ones, despite the fact that I practically forgot about it until it was upon me. I had a lot of other things on my plate like Isabelle’s red egg and ginger party, and getting ready to go back to work. However, my family didn’t forget, including Isabelle! She slept through the night for the first time, the night before my birthday – almost 9 hours! I woke up on my birthday morning both refreshed and very confused as to why I felt so refreshed.

delfina pizza
Lunch at Delfina Pizzeria. I loved the Gricia – guanciale, spring onion, panna, and black pepper. From the look on Snickers’ face, she agreed with how tasty it smelled.
birite creamery
BiRite Creamery after lunch – strawberry balsamic for me, malted vanilla for Mike. Here’s Snickers continuing to beg for a bite. She’s pretty much the world’s fanciest, most gourmet dog.

We had a very San Francisco sort of day: lunch at Delfina Pizzeria, ice cream at BiRite, and then an afternoon of ridiculously lovely weather (maybe that part wasn’t so San Francisco, but we weren’t about to complain). Then in the evening, another parenting milestone: Isabelle’s first time with a babysitter let Mike and me have dinner at Rich Table. We almost felt like a young couple again!

rich table oysters
So excited to be able to have oysters again! These are Malpeques with crushed wildflower mignonette.
rich table bites
Rich Table serves up creative, whimsical dishes in a rustic, casual setting – pretty much the epitome of SF dining right now. We had the chef’s tasting menu, which included this fantastic array of small bites. Clockwise from bottom left: Mimolette cheese cracker with chickpea salsa verde; scallop chip with pickled green strawberries and yogurt; the house Douglas fir levain with cultured butter; dried porcini doughnuts with raclette; sardine chips with horseradish (if you look closely you can see a whole sardine embedded in each chip!)
rich table richilini
The menu is very seasonal and subject to the chefs’ whims. There was clearly a flower theme for this evening: see this absolutely gorgeous presentation of richilini with sepia, ramps, and black onion oil.
rich table tajarin
The second pasta dish, of tajarin (a tagliatelle-like pasta) with beeswax confit lamb and dandelion greens.
rich table salmon
I love me some perfectly cooked salmon, and this was a fantastic one with some smoked tomatoes and sauce gribiche.
rich table steak
Another contender for prettiest dish: charcoal grilled New York strip steak with chimichurri and flowering greens.
rich table creamsicle
A palate cleanser before dessert: what they dub the “California Creamsicle”, essentially a cucumber granita with yogurt on top.
rich table dessert
Dessert! The staff very sweetly put a candle on my dish of mint chocolate cream, milk ice cream, and salted chocolate cookies. Perfect mix of flavors and textures.

With all the excitement of the birthday weekend, it took me a while to get around to making a birthday cake for me. I already had some pretty amazing ice cream and dessert on my day, so cake wasn’t really necessary, but it’s a fun tradition for this blog I like to keep up. Since I had quite a bit of passion fruit puree left over from making Isabelle’s cupcakes I decided to put it to good use. For my birthday cake I combined two of my favorite flavors: passion fruit and mango. This is also a nod to those whipped cream and fresh fruit cakes you see in Chinese bakeries, and that my mom would often get for my birthdays when I was a kid. Even today a mango mousse cake says, “Birthday” to me.


I played around with a few sponge cake recipes I have; I wasn’t entirely happy with the one I made – you can see the texture is a little spongier and coarser than I wanted, so I’ve given my basic standby genoise recipe. You want thinner layers for this cake, since you’re building it in a cake pan. I like to use a pan like this pan with a removable bottom so it’s easy to unmold the cake. You can also make this in a round pan as well.

Mango Passion Fruit Cake

I kept the passion fruit curd because I like its intense, puckery punch – it’s a nice exclamation point after the creamy sweetness of the mango mousse. You can use either fresh fruit or frozen purees for this recipe, although with fresh mango coming available it’d be a shame not to take advantage of them. This light, fluffy, not-too-sweet cake takes me right back to my childhood birthday parties. Maybe in a few years I’ll be making one for Isabelle!

Mango Passion Fruit Cake

Mango Passion Fruit Cake

Vanilla Genoise Sponge

  • 2/3 cup (133 g) sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (80 g) cake flour
  • 3 tablespoons (43 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Passionfruit Curd

  • 1/2 cup (125 g) passionfruit puree
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-in pieces

Mango Mousse

  • 2 teaspoons (4.5 g) gelatin powder
  • 1 cup (250 g) mango puree
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (250 g) heavy cream


  • 1/4 cup (58 g) heavy cream
  • 4 teaspoons (10 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream

For the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8" square pan (I like the kind with a removable bottom) and line with a piece of parchment paper.
  • Whisk eggs and sugar together in a metal bowl. Place over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is warm (the eggs will whip up with more volume if they are warm, but you don't want to cook them).
  • Pour eggs into bowl of a stand mixer. Whip with whisk attachment on high speed for several minutes until very thick and ribbons of batter fall back into bowl when you lift the whisk up.
  • Sift flour over batter and carefully fold in with a rubber spatula.
  • Combine butter and vanilla together in a small bowl. Pour a bit of the batter into the butter and stir together. Pour butter back into main batter and fold to combine.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until top is golden brown and springs back when you press it lightly.
  • Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes before unmolding. Let finish cooling on wire rack.

For the curd:

  • Whisk passionfruit puree, sugar and eggs together in a metal bowl. Place over saucepan of simmering water.
  • Cook for about 6 minutes, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and coats back of a spoon.
  • Remove from heat. Add butter several pieces at a time and stir until fully combined. Pour curd into a container and press piece of plastic wrap against surface. Cover and chill until ready to use.

For the mousse:

  • Make the mousse right before you are ready to assemble the cake. Sprinkle gelatin powder evenly over 6 teaspoons (30 g) of water in a small bowl. Let bloom for about 5 minutes until it is a solid mass.
  • Combine half of mango puree and sugar in a saucepan. Add gelatin. Cook on medium heat until gelatin is melted and incorporated into puree.
  • Pour mixture back into remaining puree and stir to combine. Let cool but don't let the mixture set.
  • Whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold about a third of the cream into the mango mixture to lighten. Fold in remainder of whipped cream.

To assemble the cake:

  • Slice the cake horizontally into two layers. Line an 8" square pan (again, I like one with a removable bottom so it's easier to unmold the cake) with a piece of plastic wrap so that the edges hang over the pan edges (you may need two pieces, one for each direction).
  • Place one layer of cake in bottom of pan. Spread a layer of passion fruit curd over the cake layer. Top with second layer of cake.
  • Pour mango mousse over top of cake layer and spread evenly. Place in refrigerator to set, about an hour.

For the topping:

  • Combine cream, sugar, and sour cream in a mixer bowl. Whip until combined and thick. Pour over top of cake and spread evenly. Chill in refrigerator until set, about half an hour.

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29 Comments so far ↓

  • suds #1

    Happy birthday! Well done on staying slim after the wonderful looking dinner. The cake looks gorgeous, a bit like my favourite vanilla slice.

  • Elen #2


  • Phoebe #3

    Hi Anita,
    Happy Birthday ! Is the passion fruit puree you used from a can or frozen? I’d love to try out this flavor but it is hard to find passion fruit puree.
    It seems that you are doing the recipe in a rush (or the baby must be crying…) The last few paragraphs “for the cake” have been switched : )
    You don’t need to preheat the oven in” assemble the cake”, right ?

    • Anita #4

      Hi Phoebe,
      Thanks for the catch! Actually, I think I just copied and pasted and forgot to take out the preheating line. The rest of the instructions are correct. As for the passion fruit, I used frozen puree since that was what I had, but if you’re lucky enough to find fresh passion fruit there’s no reason you can’t use them instead. I think it would be the same thing with canned passion fruit. Good luck!

  • Sarah #5

    Sounds like a lovely birthday weekend and the cake you made sounds awesome!

  • Laura Dembowski #6

    Happy birthday! It sounds like you had a great day! This cake looks so pretty and professional. The flavors and textures sound lovely too!

  • Y #7

    Happy Birthday! Looks like it was an incredible weekend, and what’s not to like about passionfruit, mango AND sour cream all in one cake. x

  • Ewells #8

    So glad to find your blog, this cake reminds me of my Hong Kong ties. We used to have mango cake for birthdays. I am not a baker, but I am willing to give it a try. How do you make the mango puree? Thanks!

    • Anita #9

      You can make mango puree simply by peeling mangoes and pureeing the flesh in a food processor or blender. For this recipe I would estimate you need about 5-6 mangoes. Happy baking!

  • Nancy #10

    Sounds lovely, and I think I’ll make it for my birthday cake (in June), too.

    One more paragraph swap, in the “For the Cake” section: the bit about adding the butter to the batter currently comes after the cake is baked.

  • Lorne Marr #12

    Happy belated Birthday! Hope you had a lovely celebration. The mango passion cake must’ve been delicious. I love passion fruit and mango combination! Keep your fingers crossed for me when I’ll try to persuade my wife to bake it :)
    Have a lovely day

  • Michael #14

    Really beautiful! I love your blog!

  • Arthur in the garden! #15

    Wow! Everything looks wonderful!

  • paula #16

    Hi! I came through this blog by chance, saw this amazing cake and couldn’t resist the temptation to try its recipe! I don’t really like passion fruit, so I tried to replace it with bananas instead. The result, an extraordinary and really really delicious combination! I’ll definitely try again another of your recipes! The experience has been amazing!

  • Olivia #17

    Mmmmm…. I’m in LOVE! This cake looks … DELICIOUS!! Looking forward to making it.

  • Carol #18

    My nephew and his bride to be saw this and forwarded it to me as I will be making their wedding cake and they thought this looked great. I wonder how long it would hold up out of the refrigerator. We will have to travel for 3 hours prior to the wedding – then appetizers – dinner all before the cake is cut. What do you think?

    • Anita #19

      Hi Carol,

      If there is no refrigerator to store the cake at the wedding, I think it would become too soft to cut well or it might even melt. I wouldn’t advise leaving this type of cake out of the refrigerator for more than an hour, 30 minutes max for best texture.


  • Seth Resler #20


    Thanks for coming on the Find Dining Podcast to talk to us about Rich Table! It was great to have you. Your readers can hear your interview here:

    link to

    Thanks again,

    Seth Resler
    Host, Find Dining Podcast

  • Wishy #21

    I’d like to make this cake for my mother in law on this Friday and i only have round pan , what size of round pan that would you like to recommend. Thanks

    • Anita #22

      Hi Wishy,

      I think you could use either an 8″ or 9″ round pan, depending on how thick you want the layers. 8″ pan will give you higher cake and thicker layers, 9″ pan a thinner cake. Make sure it’s at least 2″ deep pan. Happy baking!

      • Wishy #23

        Thanks, I baked it yesterday with 8″ round pan and I had a little bit left enough for 4″ round pan too. The cake turn out very light and everyone love it specially my mother in law :))

  • Annie #24

    I could not find frozen or canned passion fruit puree. I did find frozen whole passion fruits. Once defrosted I will scoop out the flesh and put them in my Vitamix Blender, but I’m wondering if I should puree with the seeds too or discard the seeds?

    • Anita #25

      Hi Annie,

      I would probably strain out the seeds before pureeing them. You can save the seeds and use them as a garnish if you like!


  • Annie #26

    Hi again! For the vanilla bean paste, can vanilla extract be used instead of the paste? If so, how much of the extract should I use? Thank you!

    • Anita #27


      Yes, you can use vanilla extract instead. It’s usually a 1-1 substitution, so you can use 1 teaspoon of the extract. Thanks!

  • Christine #28

    I’m excited to be making this cake soon for a friend. Just curious as to why this and other entrements are lined with plastic wrap first as opposed to parchment or even Crisco. Thanks!

    • Anita #29

      Hi Christine,

      Thanks for your comment! I have buttered pans or lined them with parchment/foil for other cakes, but for delicate layered cakes like this one I was taught to use plastic wrap, and it seems to work well. I believe it’s because it sticks the least to the soft mousse or cream layers and makes it easier to unmold – if you used butter or Crisco I think it would still stick, and if you froze it it would simply get stuck to the pan. Another option I’ve used is acetate sheets, which serve the same purpose to prevent sticking to the pan and easy removal from the cake. They work better for rounded molds though, and they’re more expensive than plastic wrap, so plastic wrap works fine here. Good luck and hope it turns out well!

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