Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Passion Fruit Mini Cakes

Pin It

I love browsing food blogs with beautifully styled photos. There is something magical that styling brings ... it gives the food soul, I think. I love being able to feel the character of the dish, or the mood of the people at the table, and for that brief moment, be transported to another time and place.

Unfortunately, styling can take up a lot of time and creative effort, which is why I can't do it as much as I would like to - yes, I can't afford the time, but mostly because I am always stumped for new ideas!

Take these Passion Fruit Mini Cakes, for instance. I had them on the cooling rack and must have stared at them for a good 5 mins without knowing how to proceed. I think my helper secretly laughs at me whenever I quizzically stare back and forth between my food and tableware. Which plate to use? Need cups? Got any decor? Show 1 cupcake or show all?

Honestly, I tend to get a tad flustered when it's time for photography, because it's always a mad scramble ... so, I keep going back to the same styling "template" that I have grown accustomed to (can you tell how bored I am with my shots already?). And of course, when utterly uninspired, I take the lazy way out and do food close ups. ;) Needless to say, I am in awe of bloggers who constantly apply different looks for each shoot (and dish). Power to them!

Pin It

Anywaaaay, I bought some passion fruit recently, but they tasted so tart it was impossible to eat them. Also, the sight of the black seeds kinda freaked my kids out, so I knew baking was in order. ;) I did a few checks here and there, and stumbled on this recipe. I noticed almost all recipes for Passion Fruit Cakes use the pulp and not the juice. If I had it my way, I would have used the pulp too ... the small, crunchy black seeds are the distinctive feature of anything passion fruit. But then, my 3 bosses would never touch the cake with a 10-foot pole! Would I bake this again? Hmmm ... not really. I think I prefer passion fruit in a sauce or curd, more than in a cake. ;)

(largely adapted from Best Recipes)
- 125g butter
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- Pulp or juice of 4 passion fruits (to get the juice, simply strain the pulp of 2 passion fruit through a wire mesh sieve and discard the seeds)

- 1 tbsp soft butter
- 1 1/2 cup icing sugar
- Pulp (or juice) of 2 passion fruits
* Note: I chose to make a syrup instead of an icing. Read on for the recipe.

Pin It

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Cream butter and sugar.

3. Add eggs and continue to whisk.

4. Add sifted flour, alternating with milk, and fold well.

5. Add passion fruit pulp (or juice) and fold well. The batter is very soft and creamy, almost like half-melting ice-cream.

6. Pour into paper-lined or greased cake tin (recipe does not state size of tin). I poured into large muffin tins that were greased ... and the batter yielded 12 mini cakes altogether. This batter rises quite well, so make sure you only fill up to about 3/4 full.

7. While the cake cooks, make the icing or syrup.
- For icing: Mix butter with icing sugar until well combined. Add passion fruit pulp and mix well.
- For syrup: Strain the pulp of 2 passion fruit through a wire mesh sieve. In a saucepan, heat the passion fruit juice, add 2 tbsp sugar, and simmer it over very low heat. The mixture will thicken into a syrup, but do stir constantly and make sure it doesn't burn. Leave to cool.

8. After the cake is cooked, leave it to cool briefly before removing it from the tin. It should feel nicely warm to your touch. Prick holes all over the top. Then pour icing/syrup over. Allow the cake to soak up the icing/syrup before serving. This cake is best served slightly warm. :)

Pin It


  1. I second that! With my limited tablewares and "props" it makes it very hard to style and take a soulful picture of the food. But well, it's the deliciousness of the food that counts :)

  2. Your photos are fine if not wonderful my dear ;)

    Glad to know u are all well again! xx

  3. I think your photos look fantastic, not lazy at all. And your little passion fruit cakes look delicious. I love the syrup. I much prefer syrup on cakes than icing.

    I personally prefer to do a lot of food closeups when taking my photos or maybe I'm just lazy when it comes to styling. The most important thing, to me anyway, is how the food itself looks not it's surroundings, which can often distract from the food.

  4. Photography is something I often struggle with, too, especially with my limited cookware, serving ware, props and settings! But your blog looks great - I always look forward to reading your posts. And I actually think it's quite nice to have the flavour of passion fruit without the seeds! :)

  5. As much as you feel uninspired, I think your styling for this post is good Ju.

    Doing too much distracts attention from the food and I think capturing the processes before (the muffin tin) and after (pouring of the syrup) the product is finished adds to the story telling. I'm a big fan of minimal styling and more process/ingredient driven photos - of course this is when I can afford juggling both the camera and the cooking.

    I'm sure you've seen the Japanese approach to food styling as well, I think they are simple yet addictively attractive.

  6. Your photos are gorgeous, Ju.
    The lighting for this post is really good. Bright and clear and cheerful :)

  7. i liiikkkee your photos... :P
    sorry... love!

  8. But the photos are fabulous and styling is beautiful!

    I am worse when it comes to photography - totally hopeless, mediocre with a lousy point-and-shoot camera :(

  9. Your photos have always been nothing short of fantastic. I wish I could do them like you but the lack of props, a greedy toddler and the severe lack of daylight hours at home severely limit me. I'm constantly amazed at how you don't even need to photoshop!

  10. Ju, your photos are always so good, your expectation is real high :P

  11. Ju, I bet these little cakes must have tasted scrumptious!

  12. I love all your photos and the composition. Your lighting is perfect. I have not seen one boring photo in your blog. I will be very happy if my photos are 50% as nice as yours:D

  13. All your photos and presentations are sublime!!

    How can you be bored? the best of the best..I laughed at the seeds:)

    Very cute post Ju!

  14. I love your photo shooting! Not bored at all! Always inspired by your photography.

  15. Hi Ju,
    I just purchased passion fruit this weekend. We had some in our fruit salad for brunch and they're delicious, always one of my favs.

    I will have to try your recipe, it sounds delicious. Thank you!

  16. I think your styling is great! I always love how your photos turn out!

  17. Hi there!
    Thanks for sharing the process you go through. Your pictures are beautiful. It is truely a thoughful process.


  18. You are too modest! I have always been in awe of your photos and styling and props and light ... in fact, yours is one of the blogs that I look to for inspiration when I have the bloggy "blahs." For reals.

  19. Looks cute and moist! And your photo and styling are both nice. I am horrible when come to styling food.

  20. Your photos are always lovely, and well styled. I' always take the lazy way out and do close ups, am usually too tired to style, I figure doing the cooking/baking is good enough! ;)

    In an ideal world I'd have a massive prop room, ala Donna Hay. How awesome would that be...

  21. Ju your pics are far from boring...from someone who never styles anything...the food is either going right into our mouths or right out of the pan or the oven...
    Your creations are a thing of great beauty...all the time...

  22. Very pretty photos! :) The little cakes are adorable and sound very tasty!

  23. same here, am still learning how to style my food and them photos! i hc recently tried your rich choc cake, they wre awesome!gonna try this passion fruit cake coz i lurve passion fruit!

  24. I'm the same way when I take photos. Your pics still come out nice:)