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Passion Fruit Cake Recipe for a Taste of the Tropics

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This passion fruit cake has the tropical flavor of lilikoi baked right into a sliceable loaf. It’s firm enough to eat out of hand, but if you like fancy, you can add fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream.

passion fruit cake slices on a plate with strawberries and whipped cream

Sweet and sour lilikoi

Liliko‘i – also known as passion fruit – grows wild here, and I’m lucky enough to have a prolific plant right in my backyard. The flavor is perfect to add tropical flavor to cakes and it makes one of my favorite jellies.

If you haven’t had the chance to experience the flavor of liliko‘i yet, add it to your bucket list. While the passion fruit vine is a weed here, and foraging for the fruit nets buckets and buckets of passion fruit, it’s not as prolific in some parts of the world.

You don’t have to be in Hawaii to experience the goodness of passion fruit or this cake, though. They might not be common fare at your local farmers market, but if you’ve got some space, you can try growing passion fruit at your place. A variety known as maypop or hardy passionflower will grow and produce in less tropical climates — and even withstands frost. [Learn how to grow maypop here.]

Get the juice

Before you can make anything with your fresh lilikoi, you’ll need to remove the seeds and pulp. You can see how I do that in the video above. You’ll find instructions for juicing lilikoi here.

passion fruit cake batter in a bowl, with one egg being added

Related: Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Passion fruit cake

So tasty. So easy to make. I always double the batch and make four loaves – one for now, three for the freezer.

What if I don’t have liliko‘i you ask?

In a pinch, lemon is probably the best substitute for passion fruit, though it won’t have the same tropical passion fruit flavor. You can substitute lemon juice for a perfectly lovely lemon loaf cake. But I’m pretty sure nobody will turn down a slice. 

This passion fruit cake is the most requested item at a music camp that we attend every year, and as long as I have fresh juice, I do my best to make those people happy.

Related: Delicious Chocolate Zucchini Bread

passion fruit cake slices on a plate with strawberries and whipped cream

★ Did you make this passion fruit cake? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

Passion Fruit Cake

Passion Fruit Cake

Yield: 24 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

This passion fruit cake is a wonderful way to add a taste of Hawaii to your dessert table.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 2 cups granulated organic cane sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2/3 cup passion fruit juice**, (how to juice liliko‘i)
  • 1/3 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs one at a time.  creaming egg and sugar for cake
  2. Mix flour and baking powder together. (I just do this in the measuring cup to avoid another bowl to wash.)
  3. Alternate adding dry ingredients then liquid ingredients to the sugar mixture until well blended. Pour batter into two greased loaf pans and bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes.
  4. Let hot loaf pans sit for 10-15 minutes, then remove to a wire rack for cooling.

Notes

I've successfully used oat flour for this recipe, too, but it's a bit more crumbly.

This recipe calls for passion fruit juice. If you have access to fresh passion fruit, follow these instructions for how to juice passion fruit.

If you really want to use passion fruit juice for this recipe but the fruit is not available locally, I'm told that ethnic grocers often carry a liliko‘i puree in their freezer section.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 190Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 65mgCarbohydrates: 29gSugar: 17gProtein: 2g

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

11 comments… add one
  • Jane Boursaw Nov 7, 2011, 8:35 am

    I love the name Lilikoi – and Passion Fruit, too. I don’t think I’ve ever had it, though. Can you eat it straight off the plant? That bread looks yummy.

  • Liz Nov 7, 2011, 12:41 pm

    I am so jealous that its growing wild for you! I had a vine in the garden, but it died over winter from the frost, so I have to beg and borrow from anyone who is growing them as I love to eat them. Also, I didn’t know they were also called Liliko’i, its a beautiful word for a beautiful fruit (got to love the flowers), thanks for sharing your recipe.

  • GregoryLopez Jul 19, 2012, 10:19 am

    This recipe also works great if you use half wheat flour and two smashed bananas.  I have a whole trellace full of lilikoi.  Yes you can eat them right off the vine, just strain out the seeds, or swallow them like the local mokes.

    • Kathy Robertson Feb 27, 2015, 12:08 pm

      Aaaah, trellis…maybe your brain was trying to concantenate trellis and terrace. Though a garden with both would be nice. 🙂

      Kathy

  • Sherron Nov 15, 2012, 7:23 pm

    I love to just eat them out-of-hand, seeds & all. Yum!! Our vines are really prolific! 😉

  • Kathy Nov 26, 2012, 7:40 pm

    I made this recipe tonight – it was so easy and so delicious! The bread came out very light and the lilikoi flavor is just perfect. I made 4 small loaves instead of 2 larger ones so I can share with my neighbors. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 26, 2012, 7:48 pm

      Glad to hear it, Kathy!

  • Bella Feb 18, 2015, 9:06 am

    I was wondering if I could substitute the Lilikoi juice with Lilikoi butter or Lilikoi Jam?

    • Kris Bordessa Feb 18, 2015, 9:37 am

      I don’t think that would work without a lot of finagling. They both have other ingredients that might make the bread too sweet, not to mention those are both a lot thicker than the juice. You definitely do it with lemon juice, though — and TOP it with the jam. 😉

  • Kathy Robertson Feb 27, 2015, 12:10 pm

    How about pomegranite juice? Would give it a red color anyway, 🙂

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018, 10:11 pm

    So yummy!
    Such a great recipe.

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