Cakes & Baking

Vanilla cake with passion fruit

This ‘three-milk’ cake is so deliciously moist, you may have to battle for a slice

As I said last week, I’ve just moved house and I’m busy getting to know my new kitchen. One of the biggest changes is that it’s got a gas oven – well, two actually. Goodness, I haven’t used one of those in years, not since Abdal and I bought our first house together. Back then I thought it was the bee’s knees, because it was the first time I’d had an oven of my own that actually worked and wasn’t just somewhere to store frying pans, but I can see why they aren’t so popular these days. I’ve just made a chocolate tart and polenta cake and, because a gas oven is much hotter at the back where the flame is, I had to rotate the tins halfway through, which isn’t ideal when you are baking.

That said, gas ovens are great for cooking meat and fish. I made a roast chicken and potatoes and baked a whole fish the other night and they were brilliant. As a result, I’m going to replace one of the ovens with an electric fan oven, and then keep the other one as gas so I’ll get the best of both worlds. I’ll be very spoilt.

This moist vanilla cake will definitely be one for the fan oven. It’s a bit like a drizzle cake, only instead of drenching the sponge with syrup, you use evaporated, condensed and full-fat milk – hence the reason it’s also known as a “three-milk” cake. We used to have it at school and it was so popular it caused fights to break out in the lunch queues. In the end the school had to rotate which year group went up first, so everyone got a fair chance.

Even now, my sisters and I squabble over it. If I make one, I’ll send them a picture of me hugging it. They’ll get really angry, asking why I couldn’t have made it last week when they were round.

The only change I make to the traditional recipe is to add some whipped cream to the top (so it’s like a “quadruple milk” cake) and top this with passion fruit. I like the texture of the seeds and the way the sharpness of the fruit cuts through the richness of the cake.

Vanilla cake with passion fruit
Serves 8-10

5 eggs
175g caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
150g plain flour, sieved
2 tbsp baking powder
125g unsalted butter, melted
200ml sweetened condensed milk
200ml evaporated milk
200ml whole milk
200ml double cream
3 passion fruits, halved and pulp removed

1 Preheat the oven to 160C fan. Line and grease a 9in round cake tin.

2 Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla bean paste in a bowl and beat until the mixture has increased in size and is light and fluffy.

3 Add the flour and baking powder and fold through. Add the melted butter and incorporate well, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.

4 Take out of the oven and leave in the tin. Using a skewer, prick holes all over the cake.

5 Mix together the condensed, evaporated and whole milk and pour all over the cake. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

6 To serve, whip the cream to soft peaks and spread all over the top of the cake. Top with the passion fruit.

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