Lemon Passion Fruit Cake, a combination of citrus and tropical is a delicious twist on the classic lemon cake. Drizzled with warm lemon syrup over the soft, easy to make buttery cake for a sweet tangy deliciousness.
Ingredient Preparation checklist
It's always best to prepare and check that you have all your ingredients before you start mixing the cake batter. Sometimes certain ingredients also need to be brought to room temperature before baking.
- Butter: The butter should be at room temperature. Get it out of the refrigerator at least an hour before baking. I use salted butter for this recipe. If you have unsalted butter, then just whisk in ¼ teaspoon of salt to your flour.
- White granulated sugar
- Grated lemon rind (zest): You just need 1 tablespoon of grated lemon rind so 1 lemon is sufficient. Avoid grating the lemon peel too deep. You don't want to get the bitter white (pith) which is just under the lemon peel.
- 3 large eggs: The eggs should be at room temperature. Get it out of the refrigerator at least an hour before baking.
- Buttermilk or yogurt: The buttermilk in this recipe keeps the sponge soft, light, tender, and fluffy. You can use either buttermilk or whole milk plain unflavored yogurt. See below for a buttermilk substitute
- Flour: You can use either cake flour or all purpose flour for this recipe. I used cake flour because I love the soft baked texture it produces.
- Baking powder: Although baking powder is used in a small, it can make a difference between a dense or light well risen bake. Ensure that your baking powder is fresh and not past the expiry date. The cake will be dense and will not rise if the baking powder is not active.
To test whether your baking powder is active, place a few tablespoons of hot water in a small dish or measuring cup, then stir in about a teaspoon of baking powder. The mixture will begin to bubble and fizz if the powder is still active; if there’s little to no reaction, it’s time to get some more.
- Passion fruit: If you have access to actual passion fruit in your area, then by all means use real passion fruit. Just scoop out the juicy middle of each fruit. Keep in mind that one passion fruit yields 1½-2 tablespoons of pulp. So for this recipe, if using fresh passion fruit, then 3 or 4 will be sufficient. The pulp (strained to remove seeds) is used in the cake batter.
- How to substitute buttermilk or yogurt: If you don’t have buttermilk or yogurt, you can make some by adding 1 tablespoon (15ml) white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup (250ml) milk Leave it aside for 2 minutes which will allow it to curdle. Use in place of the buttermilk.
- How to substitute fresh passion fruit: Store bought canned, frozen or bottled passion fruit pulp or puree, are great substitutes for fresh passion fruit. Depending on the brand and your preference, you can find them with or without seeds. The pulp or puree added in the batter is what enhances the amazing tropical flavor.
How to make Lemon Passion Fruit Cake
This is just the overview so you can see the process. When you are baking, you’ll want to use the full recipe at the bottom of the page.
If you are using Fresh passion fruit: Scoop out the juicy middle of each fruit and place it into a strainer set over a bowl. (It's easier if you work with one fruit at a time)
Use a spatula to press out the pulp and juice which will collect into the bowl below the strainer. The seeds in the strainer can either be discarded or used in the syrup which is poured over the baked cake.
Once you have collected the juice and pulp, measure it and stir it into the buttermilk. Set aside until ready to mix into the batter.
If you are using store bought pulp, strain it like above if it contains seeds and then combine with the buttermilk. Set aside until ready to mix into the batter.
Prep the oven and baking pan: Preheat the oven to 356° F / 180° C (160° C fan) Grease and line an 8 x 5 inch (20 x 12 cm) loaf pan with parchment paper. Leave an overhang of paper, making it easy to lift the cake out of the pan after baking.
Make the batter
In a large bowl, cream the butter sugar and grated lemon peel (zest) until pale and airy. This should take about 4 minutes if using a hand held beater.
Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 10 seconds after each addition. Stir in the combined passion fruit pulp and buttermilk.
Add dry ingredients: Fold the sifted flour and baking powder into the batter until just combined.
Spread the mixture into the loaf pan. Bake the cake for between 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave cake in pan for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack placed over a tray.
Make the syrup
Make the lemon syrup. Place sugar, lemon juice, water and if you prefer, half the reserved passion fruit seeds in a small saucepan.
Stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Simmer, uncovered, without stirring, for 5 minutes.
7. Pour the hot syrup over hot cake and serve warm. You can also reserve a little of the syrup to serve with individual slices of cake if you like.
Frequently asked questions and tips
Yes you can. This recipe is baked in an 8 x 5 inch (20 x 12 cm) loaf pan. A round or square 8 inch (20cm) pan works too. You just have to adjust the baking time accordingly.
Yes you can. If you really cannot get fresh, frozen or canned pulp, then passion fruit juice will work in a pinch.
Try to get 100% pure juice without additives or sugar. The added sugar and additives can have an impact on the flavor and texture of the cake.
If the passion fruit juice contains added sugar, I would suggest that you cut down on the sugar in the recipe accordingly
Dome the cake with foil if you find after about 25 minutes that the top is browning too quickly. You can lift off the foil about 10 minutes before you remove the cake from the oven.
At room temperature: Up to 3 days in an airtight container.
To freeze: Can be frozen for up to one month. Wrap the baked, completely cooled cake in plastic wrap. The cake should be frozen without the syrup. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
More delicious citrus recipes
Want even more delicious recipes? Subscribe free to receive new post notifications emailed to you. Or follow along on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. If you love sharing recipes please come and join my All about cooking and baking Facebook group or Subscribe to my YouTube channel