October 5, 2014

Tartine's Passion Fruit and Lime Bavarian Cake

Tartine Bakery's fame extends not only within San Francisco but other parts near and far.  They received a James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2008 which is like an Academy Award in the culinary world.  So it was extremely gratifying for me when I was able to replicate, at home, one of their most popular cakes.  

I had my first taste of the Passion Fruit and Lime Bavarian a few weekends ago with my sister.  Yes, there was a line when we got there - as there always is - but in the end waiting for 30 minutes was so worth it.  One bite of the moist chiffon cake filled with tart passion fruit bavarian cream, covered with lightly sweetened whipped cream and coconut shavings and I was hooked.   I had to try and make it for myself and lucky for me Tartine included the recipe in their eponymous  cookbook.

 The cake was perfect to bring to a family gathering to celebrate my Mom's birthday.  As I've mentioned before my people don't care for overly sweet desserts so I thought this cake was the ideal choice.   Boy was I right.  My family loved the cake, although one of my brothers said it was too tart - hmmm, there's always one dissenter in any big family...lol.   My sister commented that the cake tasted exactly like the one we bought at Tartine, surely confirmation that this recipe was a winner!

While the ingredient list and instructions may seem long the actual creation of this dessert was pretty straight forward.  Make the chiffon and passion fruit filling, assemble the layers and frost.  I spread the process over several days to make it more manageable.  In the recipe you end up with an extra layer of chiffon so I made little parfait versions of the cake in glass Weck canning jars.  I'd seen desserts presented like this at my favorite restaurant, ad hoc, and thought it was such a great idea.  

Stay tuned to this blog as I'm sure I'll be creating more fabulous treats from Tartine!

Passion Fruit and Lime Bavarian

Makes one 10-inch cake, 12-16 servings 
Chiffon Cake
 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
 6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
10 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper cut to fit exactly. Do not grease the sides of the pan.

Sift together the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add 1-1/4 cups of the sugar and the salt and whisk to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla, and lemon zest. Make a well in the flour, add the yolk mixture, and then whisk thoroughly and quickly for about 1 minute until very smooth.

Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat on medium-high speed until the whites hold firm, shiny peaks. Using a rubber spatula, scoop about one-third of the whites onto the yolk mixture and fold in gently to lighten the batter. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula if necessary. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Let cool in the pan (the sides of the pan will help hold the structure of the cake as it cools) on a wire rack.

To unmold, run a small, thin knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake and then release and lift off the pan sides. Invert the cake, peel off the parchment, and cool completely. The cake will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. When ready to assemble, split the cake into 4 layers. You will only need 3 layers for this recipe. Reserve the extra layer for another use.

Lime Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
grated zest of 2 limes
1/3 cup lime juice

Combine the sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon. When the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and chill until cool, about 30 minutes. Whisk the lime zest and juice into the syrup.

Passion Fruit Bavarian Cream

[Treats Note: I bought frozen passion fruit pulp from the Hispanic supermarket and thawed it.  Worked out perfectly and was a lot cheaper than buying fresh passion fruits!]

2/3 cup passion fruit pulp, frozen or fresh (about 12 fruits) 
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1-1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons water
1-1/2 cups heavy cream, very cold

Pass the passion fruit pulp through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a small bowl and discard seeds. 

In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath of both ice and water. In a medium saucepan, bring about 2-inches of water to a simmer. Combine the egg yolks, sugar, passion fruit, and salt in a stainless steel bowl that will rest securely in the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk together and then place over the saucepan and continue to whisk until the yolks are hot to the touch (120°F), about 7 minutes. This is the bombe.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over water in a small dish and let stand for a few minutes to soften. When the bombe is ready, add the gelatin and whisk well to dissolve. Remove the bowl from the hot water and nest the  bowl in the ice bath just until slightly cool to the touch, whisking to cool the mixture evenly.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks.   Scoop about one-third of the cream into the bombe. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream with a rubber spatula.


Line the sides of the springform pan with plastic wrap, allowing enough overhang to cover the top of the cake completely when it is assembled. Leave the bottom of the pan unlined.

Fit one cake layer into the bottom of the pan. Using a pastry brush, moisten the later with one-third of the lime syrup.  Working quickly, pour half of the mixture onto the first layer of cake.

Top with the second layer, being careful as the filling is very liquid. Brush this layer with half of the remaining lime syrup and then immediately pour the remaining Bavarian cream over it.

Carefully top with the last layer and moisten it with the remaining syrup. Fold the overhanging plastic wrap over the top of the cake, covering completely, and refrigerate overnight.

When you are ready to finish the cake, release and lift off the pan sides and peel away the plastic wrap. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cake to a serving plate, if using, or leave it on the cake pan base.

1-1/2 cups heavy cream, very cold
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup unsweetened large-flake dried coconut

Using a whisk or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and sugar until  until the cream holds medium peaks. Using an offset spatula, frost the top and sides of the cake with the whipped cream, and then sprinkle the top and sides with coconut.

Return the cake to the refrigerator for about 2 hours before serving to allow the coconut flakes to absorb the moisture from the cream and soften.

Serve the cake cold. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


  1. Just wanted to say that your cakes look absolutely adorable and delicious ������

  2. A must try, making for my sister!


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