Tender and rich. Gorrrgeous in a subtle and unpretentious way. Reliable, yet full of surprise. Ladies, I know it sounds like I’m describing the perfect man but what I’m talking about is even better (read: attainable, real, non-fictitious. Ha. Sorry fellas, I couldn't resist 😉). I’m talking about this cake: gluten-free vanilla cake layers with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream hiding a luscious, peach-passionfruit curd inside. I’ve declared this Vanilla Layer Cake with Peach-Passionfruit Curd my favourite cake of all time! The recipe for the gluten-free vanilla cake itself is frankly, the only gf vanilla cake recipe you’ll ever need. But the show-stopper here is the peach-passionfruit curd which is simply sublime.
And both of my girls agree. Which is extra, extra important because I made this cake for Elise, for her 6th birthday. The flavour of her birthday cake to-be was the topic of many, many conversations leading up to the actual day. Six year olds take their birthdays very seriously (bless their sweet little hearts). We came up with this flavour together, the day we stumbled upon our beloved passionfruit on sale for half price at Whole Foods and each gleefully grabbed handfuls of them into our shopping cart. They are normally pricey little suckers probably on account of them being tropical, or at least subtropical, fruits that do not grow anywhere near us. This time we scored BIG.
It’s also late summer, so there are loads of peaches on sale as well. Peaches are my ultimate favourite stone fruit of them all. I eat one or two everyday during the season, out of hand over the sink, juices dribbling down chin and hands. And guess what, peaches and passionfruit are heavenly together. This peach-passionfruit curd is to die for. Do try to make it before peach season is over. (And if the season is over, you can puree frozen peaches for the curd).
Remember when I said ‘tender and rich’? I was in fact referring to the gluten-free vanilla cake layers. I make it often as my go-to vanilla cake or cupcakes. Some say it tastes as good as, if not better than, a traditional version made with wheat flour. Yup. It’s really good. The egg (yolks), the butter, and the almond flour are to be credited for its lovely richness. Whipped egg whites folded into the batter at the last step contribute to a tender crumb.
Before I go, can I share something totally eerie? I just realized that I posted this Peach + Passionfruit Pavlova (one of my most popular recipes on this blog and on Pinterest, too) on this exact date last year, September 13th. And today is FRIDAY the 13th. And there happens to be a RARE FULL MOON known as the “micro moon” tonight. Woah. How bizarre, how bizarre. And also how off-topic. My apologies 😆 You will find the recipe for this most enchanting cake below, along with a few head notes you should read for best results.
Peace and Carrots! x
Almond Flour: For cakes, baked goods, pancakes etc, you should always use almond flour that is blanched (no brown bits / skin) and finely-ground. I use either Bob’s Red Mill Super Fine Blanched Almond Flour or JK Gourmet Very Fine Ground Almond Flour. I believe Costco also sells a reasonably priced fine almond flour under their Kirkland brand. (not sponsored)
Gluten-Free Flour: Each brand of gluten-free flour blend is not the same. Therefore, using different brands may yield different outcomes. I always use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour because it is very accessible and available in most grocery stores. (not sponsored)
Make in Advance: The cake layers can be baked a day ahead, kept well-wrapped in a cool room or several days ahead but kept frozen (wrap well then frozen inside freezer bag) and defrosted overnight. The Swiss Meringue Buttercream can be made ahead and kept in a cool room for 3-4 days. The Peach-Passionfruit Curd can be stored in tightly-lidded container in the fridge for up to a week.
Tip for Swiss Meringue Buttercream: If it curdles at any point, whip the mixture on high speed for as long as it takes to get it smooth again, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Quickest way is to also aim a hairdryer perpendicularly at the mixing bowl as it whips. Works like a charm every single time.
Vanilla Layer Cake with Peach-Passionfruit Curd
Recipe makes one 3-layer 6” round cake (pictured in blog post) or one 2-layer 8” round cake.
For the Peach-Passionfruit Curd (makes ~1 cup of curd; can be stored refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to a week):
2 large egg yolks (save egg whites to use in Swiss meringue buttercream – recipe below)
3 tbsp (45ml) honey or pure maple syrup
¼ C (60ml) pureed peach (from about 1 medium peach, de-skinned and pit removed)
1 tsp (10ml) fresh lemon juice
Pinch sea salt
3 tbsp (43g) unsalted butter (can substitute coconut oil or ghee)
Pulp from 2 fresh passionfruits (or about 2-3 tbsp of pulp)
For the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Makes ~3 cups which is just enough for naked cake look, as pictured in blog post. Double the recipe for traditional frosted cake. SMB can be made 3-4 days ahead and stored in a cool room. Extras can be frozen.):
3 large egg whites (90g)
¾ C (140g) granulated sugar
½ C + 2-3tbsp (80g) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 C + 2 tbsp (256g) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature 1-2 hrs or 65f
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
For the Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Layers:
4 large eggs, separated
1 C (228g) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature 1-2 hrs or 65f
¾ C (140g) granulated sugar
1 1/3 C (130g) finely ground blanched almond flour (see headnotes)
2/3 C (90g) Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour (see headnotes)
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch sea salt
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
Optional for garnish:
Additional peaches (sliced) and fresh passionfruits (halved)
Prepare the Peach-Passionfruit Curd (can be stored in tight container refrigerated for up to 1 week): Heat and whisk all the curd ingredients, except the passionfruit pulp, in a small pot over low heat. Once the butter has completely melted, increase the heat to medium-low and cook 7-10 minutes or until tiny bubbles surface, all the while stirring frequently. Keep going until mixture is noticeably thickened, like thin yogurt. A thermometer should read 170f. Strain over a sieve into a bowl and stir in passionfruit pulp. The curd will thicken further as it cools, to the final pudding-like consistency of curd. Refrigerate if not using right away. Once fully cooled, check to make sure your curd is thick. If it is too thin, it may bleed through the cake layers or cause your cake layers to be less stable once stacked. Put the curd over a double-boiler again and repeat the process to cook further. Whisking in another egg yolk while you do this is also an option.
Prepare the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (can be made 3-4 days ahead and stored in a cool room): Over a double boiler, whisk sugar and egg whites, stirring and moving everything around constantly, until mixture reaches 115f or you can feel between your fingers that the sugar grains are completely dissolved. Pour mixture into the metal bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until thick, glossy and white (very firm peaks), about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, sift confectioner's sugar. Once the egg whites are done, turn the stand mixer to the lowest speed and add the confectioner's sugar all at once. Let the whisk turn a few times to settle the sugar before increasing mixer speed to medium-high and whisking until everything is evenly incorporated. While the mixer is still running on medium-high, add the room temperature butter in 2-tbsp chunks at a time until all of it is incorporated. Add the vanilla bean paste or extract. Mix until thoroughly combined. Switch to the paddle attachment and blend on medium-low speed until the buttercream is nice and smooth, about a minute. Swiss meringue buttercream can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 days. Tip: if your Swiss meringue buttercream curdles at any point, whip the mixture on high speed for as long as it takes to get it smooth again, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Quickest way is to also aim a hairdryer perpendicularly at the mixing bowl as it whips. Works like a charm every single time.
Prepare the Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 325f. Lightly grease and/or line with parchment paper, three 6” round cake pans (or two 8” round pans). Whisk the flours, baking powder and salt together and set aside. Place the butter and sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, and cream them at medium speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Separate the eggs (whites in a separate vessel). Add the yolks to the butter-sugar mixture and beat a minute more. Add the flour mixture all at once and beat on low until just mixed. Using a hand-whisk, whip egg whites to soft peaks. (Alternatively, you may scoop out cake batter, clean bowl thoroughly, and whisk the whites in the stand mixer on high (8 speed) to soft peaks, about 3 minutes. Fold the whites into the cake batter. Divide batter evenly amongst your prepared cake pans. If you are making three 6” cakes, bake them for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer pierced into the middle emerges clean with just a crumb or two. If you are bake two 8” cakes, bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer emerges clean with just a crumb or two. Since ovens vary widely, it is always a good idea to check doneness earlier to ensure cake does not over-bake. Over-baking will surely result in dry cake. Cool cakes in their pans for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then remove the cakes and cool rest of the way. Make sure cakes are fully cooled before frosting.
Assemble the Cake: Scoop some of the buttercream into a piping bag and snip off the end for ¾” opening – you just need to eyeball enough to pipe rings around the edge of the inside layer(s) to encircle the curd. Place bottom cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Scoop about ½ cup of buttercream for 6” cake (more for 8” cake) and spread evenly with spatula. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge. Fill center of the ring with fully cooled peach-passionfruit curd, about ¼ cup for a 6” cake layer, more for 8”. Place next cake layer on top, upside down so the flat bottom is facing upward. Repeat one more time for a three-layered cake, placing final cake layer upside down again so the flat cake bottom is facing upward. Frost top and outside of cake with a thin layer of buttercream, filling in the outside in between the layers as needed and smoothing the buttercream with a spatula or icing smoother. This is the crumb coat. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Frost entire cake with remaining buttercream, this time taking more care for a smooth finish. Garnish the cake with fresh peaches, fresh passionfruit curd and flowers or petals if you like. I used Dahlias.
If you like this recipe, pin it to Pinterest! You can also leave me a comment below to let me know what you think of this post - I would love that.