Sunday, November 8, 2009

Celebrating With A Passion Fruit and Lime Bavarian

I think I owe you all an apology. I felt a bit cruel showing you pictures of my lip-smacking passion fruit&coconut birthday cake back in August without providing a recipe for you. And I did it again in the last post about the birthday dinner I threw for my Scorpio girls. I posted yet another photo of one of the most luscious cakes ever to cross my lips, and yet I only gave you part of the recipe. Yes, the chiffon cake is lovely on its own, but it’s the zingy passion fruit filling that elevates this delightful cake to extraordinary heights. Topped simply with lightly sweetened whipped cream and a few wide shavings of unsweetened coconut, I can assure you that one bite of this cake will send your taste buds into gleeful fits of giggles.

I won’t torment you by withholding this precious information for a moment longer. This Passion Fruit and Lime Bavarian Cake comes from the justifiably famous Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Alissa and I had the great good fortune of sampling this very cake during a vacation there last summer, and in a whole week of standout meals, this passion fruit beauty was the clear winner in the Most Memorable Dessert category. It’s not a surprise that she requested this for her birthday cake this year, and I was more than happy to oblige.

Fortunately for all of us, the recipe for this stunning cake is in the Tartine bakery cookbook, so I am now able to recreate this in my own kitchen. I have tweaked the recipe a bit, reducing the sugar and making a little extra passion fruit filling, but otherwise it is nearly identical to the original. My friends and I are most grateful for this recipe, and I think you will be too.

Adapted, barely, from a recipe in Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson

This cake is a little labor-intensive, but it is oh-so-very worth it indeed. You’ll need to start it a day before you plan to serve it, for the cake layers need to be baked and cooled, and the passion fruit Bavarian cream needs to set overnight. 

I have found frozen passion fruit puree in my local corner Latin foods market, where it is usually labeled with its Spanish name, maracuya. If you can’t find this puree, you can probably achieve similar results by using pure passion fruit juice, though it will be a little sweeter than the straight passion fruit pulp. (Ceres and Looza are two good brands.) I found unsweetened large coconut flakes in my local health food store.

1 10-inch Lemon Chiffon Cake, completely cooled

For the Lime Syrup:
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
2 limes, zested and juice squeezed

For the Bavarian cream:
2/3 cup frozen passion fruit pulp, thawed
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons water
2 cups heavy cream, very cold

To finish the cake:
1-½ cups heavy cream, very cold
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup unsweetened large-flaked dried coconut

Slice the Lemon Chiffon Cake into four equal layers. Wrap one chiffon cake layer in plastic wrap and save for another use. (See previous blog entry for ideas!)

Make the Lime Syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool, about 30 minutes. Whisk in the lime juice and zest.

Begin assembling the cake. Line only the sides of a 10-inch springform pan with plastic wrap, leaving enough overhang so that the plastic wrap will cover the top of the assembled cake completely. Arrange 1 cake layer to fit snugly in the bottom of the pan. Use a pastry brush to evenly coat the cake layer with one-third of the lime syrup.

Make the Bavarian cream. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water. Pour 2 inches of water into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Combine the thawed passion fruit pulp, egg yolks, sugar and pinch of salt in a stainless-steel bowl that is big enough to rest on the rim of the saucepan without touching the water. Whisk everything together and place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water. Keep whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch, about 7 minutes. (If you have an instant-read thermometer, the mixture should be about 120°F.)

Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small dish, and let it soften for a few minutes. When the passion fruit mixture is ready, whisk in the softened gelatin until it has completely dissolved. Transfer this bowl to the ice bath, letting it sit in the ice water and whisking occasionally until the mixture is slightly cool to the touch.

In a separate mixing bowl, whip the cream until it forms medium-stiff peaks. Add one-third of the whipped cream to the passion fruit mixture, whisking in to lighten it. Use a rubber spatula to carefully fold in the rest of the whipped cream. You now have a beautiful Passion Fruit Bavarian Cream. (If you are anything like me, take a small spoonful to sample your handiwork, but try to resist eating it all!)

Finish assembling the cake. You’ll need to work quickly before the gelatin in the Bavarian cream sets completely. Pour of the passion fruit cream over the first layer of cake. Carefully arrange another cake layer on top of the liquid-y filling. Brush this layer with half of the lime syrup, then immediately pour the rest of the passion fruit cream over it. Set the final cake layer on top and brush it with the remaining lime syrup. Fold the plastic wrap over the cake so that it is completely covered, and refrigerate overnight.

Finish the cake. Release the springform sides of the pan and remove. Peel away the plastic wrap and transfer the cake to a serving plate. (You can also leave it on the cake pan base, which is what I usually do since I don’t have any pretty large serving plates!)

Use an electric mixer to whip the remaining cream until it begins to thicken. Add the sugar and continue whipping until medium peaks form. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the whipped cream, using an offset spatula or small table knife to spread it evenly. Sprinkle the top and sides with the coconut flakes, and let it sit in the refrigerator for about 2 hours so that the coconut softens into the cream.

Serve the cake cold. You will be able to feed anywhere from 12 to 16 people who will undoubtedly be ecstatic when they taste this cake! If you and your friends do not devour the whole thing on the spot, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Isn't it gorgeous?!


keri marion said...

it's truly lovely!

louise said...

Thanks Keri, I wish you could have tasted it! I don't know if you're familiar with Tartine--the SF bakery and/or their cookbook--but being the great baker that you are, I think you'd be especially appreciative of their recipes!

Leaving the desert behind said...

I found your food blog in a round about way looking online for a cake recipe to make for a friends birthday this past week. Needless to say the Passion Fruit Lime Bavarian cake was absolutely amazing. I just purchased one of the books from Tartine and can not wait to buy the other one. Thank you for sharing this recipe!!! Sincerely a very happy baker...(I couldn't find large flaked coconut so I just bought a coconut and made my own. It was a lot more work but very worth it, the cake looked like a million bucks)