Soft white cake filled with blood orange curd and wrapped in dragonfruit buttercream. This stunning cake is a tropical fruit dream come true!
Melissa’s Produce sent me a selection of “freaky fruit” for recipe development. As always, all opinions are my own.
What do you get when you combine moist white cake, blood orange curd and buttercream filled with the speckles of dragonfruit seeds? A bite of heaven, that is what. Decorate it with strawberry papaya and pomegranate arils for an extra special tropical cake.
I love the experiences I get to have because of this blog. I am really fortunate that it brings we in contact with such wonderful people from around the world.
It also gives me such fun excuses to expand my culinary horizons. That was definitely the case in this instance.
Melissa’s produce offered to send us some of their “freaky fruit” collection ahead of Halloween. When Cam from Culinary Adventures with Camilla posted the list of what was going to be included my jaw dropped.
I had to look up almost every single item to see what it was! Of course that made creating recipes a bit of a challenge, but also that much more fun!
Luckily they were very generous when packing the box, so I had plenty of fruit for tasting, testing and creating.
None of the fruit was really freaky, but most were picked because of their looks or names. There were spiky kiwano melons and rambuten. Then there were fruits with names like blood oranges and dragonfruit.
I got a couple of recipe ideas in mind and then invited my family over for a taste test of some of the others.
I knew they would enjoy trying some out of the ordinary produce. Plus that gave me a nice audience for the first recipe I wanted to make, this cake.
I think the rambuten were the unanimous favorite. The spike exterior was fun to peel and the inside was almost like a peeled grape.
The dragonfruit is such a beautiful shade of pink and the interior was white speckled with lots of small black seeds. It almost reminded me of a kiwi in texture and ability to scoop out the fruit with a spoon.
I wanted a simple to make and soft textured white cake to build it on. I knew the base of the haleakala cake would be perfect.
Instead of making two thicker layers, I made three thinner layers. That way I could have a higher filling to cake ratio without worrying about too much filling oozing out.
For the filling I turned some of those blood oranges into blood orange curd. It turned out such a beautiful color and tasted fabulous sandwiched between the layers of cake.
The frosting took a bit of thinking. The dragonfruit puree was pretty loose and had a high liquid content.
I figured if I only used powdered sugar to firm it up our teeth would ache from sweetness. So instead I boiled down some of the puree with granulated sugar. Once it was thick and syrupy, it was a lot easier to add to the frosting.
I really loved the look of the dragonfruit specks in the frosting and was quite pleased with how the cake was coming together. But it seemed like it was missing something.
Such a special cake needed a little something more to set it apart. I considered sprinkles, but then remembered I had a whole box full of fabulous fruit.
Thin slices of strawberry papaya made a pretty flower and the pomegranate arils made a beautiful center. I was very pleased with the results.
Everyone oohed and aaaahed over the cake and commented on how the blood orange curd almost looked sherbet-y. They thought it almost tasted like sherbet too!
My husband wasn’t sure he was going to have a slice, but ended up giving in. I’m glad he did because he declared it his favorite cake of the year.
We eat a lot of delicious cakes, so that is really saying something! I have to agree that I was super happy with how it came out!
The frosting recipe is quite generous, so you are likely to have extras. It would be great on cupcakes or Graham crackers or you could freeze it to use later.
I am really curious to see what my blogger friends made with their freaky fruit. And I am curious if you’ve ever had dragonfruit. What are your favorite ways to eat these fun fruits?
If you don’t have blood oranges, you could use other fruit curd fillings such as:
Tips and Tricks
- You want the dragon fruit syrup to be pretty thick and viscous. Even while hot, it should have some body. At least the thickness of maple syrup. When cooled it should be at least as thick as honey or even a bit thicker.
- The sliced papaya holds up really well in the refrigerator. If left at room temperature for a long stretch, it weeps a bit due to the sugar content of the frosting. Once placed back in the refrigerator, it still held up well.
- The buttercream pipes well. I just did a simple border around the base of the cake, but did experiment with some additional tips. I wouldn’t try anything with too small of an opening due to the seeds, but feel free to experiment!
- You can bake the cake up to a few weeks in advance. Just wrap the layers in plastic wrap and freeze until you are ready to decorate!
If you are a frosting fanatic like me, check out my Frosting 101. It goes through the different types of frosting and links to all sorts of delicious recipes!
Tropical White Cake with Dragonfruit Buttercream
- 2 cups flour
- 3½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ cup butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 4 egg whites
Dragon Fruit Frosting
- 1 cup dragon fruit puree* about 1 dragon fruit
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1½ cups butter
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
Garnish and Filling
- ¾ cup blood orange curd
- 1 strawberry papaya
- pomegranate arils
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare three round 9-inch pans. (You can grease and flour them or I use the baking spray with flour in it)
- Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt with a whisk to ensure no clumps. Set aside.
- In your mixer bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until completely incorporated. Be sure the scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add half of the dry ingredients, mix on low until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then add half of the milk, again mixing on low until incorporated. Repeat, adding the remainder of the dry ingredients and then the milk. Scrape the sides well.
- Add the egg whites (you add them unbeaten) and beat batter on high for 2 minutes. It is ok if the final batter isn’t completely smooth.
- Divide the batter into the three prepared pans. Tilt them a bit to level out the batter, and then drop them from a few inches above the counter to finish leveling them.
- Bake for about 30 minutes. The sides should have pulled away from the edges and the top should be golden brown and barely spring back when pressed with a finger tip.
- Run a knife around the edges of the cakes when you remove them from the oven, then let them cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Invert onto a cooling rack and then cool right side up until completely cooled.
- In a saucepan, combine dragon fruit and granulated sugar. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until it comes to a boil. Stir frequently and allow to boil until thick and syrupy, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. You can stick the mixture in the refrigerator if you want to speed up the process.
- Once the dragon fruit is cooled, cream the butter until smooth and airy. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, the salt and vanilla. Beat until incorporated.
- Add the dragon fruit and beat until well mixed. Add powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency.
- Place 1 layer of cooled cake on your serving plate. Pipe a ring of frosting around the top of the cake to form a dam, then fill with half of the blood orange curd.
- Place the second layer on the cake and repeat the process with a frosting dam and blood orange curd.
- Place the final layer of cake on top. Frost the cake with remaining frosting.
- Chill until about ready to serve.
- Cut papaya in half and remove seeds. Peel the skin off the flesh and cut the flesh into thin slices. Arrange slices starting with a large circle around the outer edges of the cake and work your way in. Fill the center circle with pomegranate arils. Chill until ready to serve.