A light and fresh sponge cake that's full-to-the-brim with wonderful zesty passionfruit flavours and infused with nostalgia.
It's easier than you might think to whip up this old-fashioned Passionfruit Sponge Cake – just like our grandmas did!
Nana's Recipe: the BEST Passionfruit Sponge Cake
This is the type of recipe that our grandmothers always had stored away in their heads.
An old-fashioned sponge cake – this one is a "Prize Sponge" that Nana Ling had the good sense to put down on paper at the start of 1942.
I've added a generous layer of fresh cream and a sweet passionfruit icing to top things off.
Note that the updated recipe can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Ingredients for Passionfruit Sponge Cake
To make this delightful dessert you'll need:
- caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- plain flour (all purpose flour)
- cornflour (cornstarch)
- melted butter
- hot water
- cream of tartar
- bicarb soda
- thickened cream (heavy cream)
- icing sugar (confectioners/powdered sugar)
- custard powder
- passionfruit pulp.
Ingredient quantities can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Passionfruit Sponge-making tips
All of the steps required to get this recipe right are in the recipe card at the end of the post.
However, let's run through the most important parts of the method.
The key to this recipe is, of course, getting the two layers of sponge cake just right.
When making sponge cake, start with fresh eggs and keep them out of the fridge so they're at room temperature when you're ready to use them.
When you whip the whites, the frothy mixture will then be more stable.
Also make sure you prepare your tins by greasing and then either lining the tins with baking paper or sprinkling with flour and shaking the flour around so that it evenly coats the inside of the tins.
When adding the dry ingredients and water/butter mixture, treat the mixture like it's delicate. Use a spatula and make sure the ingredients are well combined but do not stir vigorously or over-mix.
Finally, keep an eye on the sponges as they're cooking but do not open the oven door until you're fairly sure they're cooked.
The sponges should rise and cook to a golden colour, taking about 20 minutes. If you open the oven door and still hear a sizzling sound, it's likely your cakes are still cooking. Quickly close the door and allow to cook a little longer.
Decorating your Passionfruit Sponge Cake
While the sponge layers are key to making up this recipe, the cream filling and passionfruit icing are the key to enjoying it!
The cream has a little icing sugar and custard powder, both for flavour and to help it hold together better.
Whip all ingredients together until stiff peaks form. Spread over top of one sponge and then place other sponge on top to form a sandwich.
Variation idea: Add an extra punch of passionfruit by also spreading a layer of Passionfruit Curd under the cream layer.
The icing is a simple passionfruit icing with just the pulp and icing sugar – and a little hot water to get the right consistency.
Sift the icing sugar and stir in the pulp. Add enough hot water to form a thick icing.
Pour over top of sponge sandwich.
Q. How long will Passionfruit Sponge Cake keep?
Stored in the fridge, it will keep for a day or two but is best eaten as fresh as possible.
Q. Can I freeze this Passionfruit Sponge Cake?
I do not recommend freezing this cake.
Q. Can I use canned passionfruit pulp?
You can and the recipe will work just fine. But as the saying goes, fresh is best!
Q. My Sponge Cake sunk in the middle. What happened?
Sponges can be tricky, and sometimes even experienced bakers find that their sponge cakes have sunk in the middle.
It's frustrating, but sponge cakes are one of those recipes you need to practice to perfect.
If your sponge cake has sunk, here are some possible causes:
- Overmixing: Excess air incorporated into the batter during the mixing process deflates during baking, causing the cake to sink. To prevent this, mix the batter just until the ingredients are combined.
- Underbaking: If a sponge cake is underbaked, it can sink in the middle once it's removed from the oven.
- Opening the oven door: The sudden change in temperature and airflow can cause the cake to collapse. To prevent this, avoid opening the oven door until the cake is almost fully baked.
- Too much leavening agent: Using too much baking powder or baking soda in the recipe can cause the cake to rise too quickly and then collapse in the middle. Make sure to measure your ingredients accurately and follow the recipe instructions closely.
- Oven temperature: If the oven temperature is too low, the cake may not rise properly and will sink in the middle. On the other hand, if the temperature is too high, the cake will rise too quickly and then collapse. Invest in an oven thermometer to ensure that your oven is at the correct temperature.
- Pan size: Using the wrong size pan can also cause sponge cakes to sink in the middle. If the pan is too small, the cake will rise too high and then collapse. If the pan is too large, the cake will spread out too much and not rise enough. Make sure to use the correct pan size as specified in the recipe – a 19/20cm round tin.
Q. Do you have other Passionfruit recipes?
I sure do, it's one of my favourite fruits!
Passionfruit Sponge Cake
- 2 round cake tins (19/20cm)
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1 cup plain flour (all purpose flour)
- 1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter (15 grams)
- ¼ cup hot water
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon bicarb soda
- 1 cup thickened cream
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar (confectioners/powdered sugar)
- 1 teaspoon custard powder
- 2 cups icing sugar (confectioners/powdered sugar)
- ¼ cup passionfruit pulp (about 3-4 passionfruit)
- 1-2 teaspoons hot water
- Prepare two round cake tins by greasing and lining with baking paper or a sprinkling of flour.
- Pre-heat oven to a moderate temperature (170 degrees celsius, fan-forced).
- Separate egg yolks from whites.
- Beat egg whites to a stiff froth.
- Add yolks and sugar and beat on med-high for a further 5 minutes.
- Sift flour, cornflour and cream of tartar together. Add gradually to the egg and sugar mixture, folding together gently with a spatula.
- Combine melted butter, hot water and bicarb soda and add to the mixture. Fold together gently using the spatula.
- Pour half of the mixture into each of the round tins.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tins.
- Whip all ingredients together until stiff peaks form. Spread over top of one sponge and then place other sponge on top to form a sandwich.
- Sift icing sugar and stir in the pulp. Add enough hot water to form a thick icing.
- Pour over top of sponge sandwich.