Sri Lankan Butter Cake with Passionfruit Frosting, Fresh Mango, and Lemon Curd

I’ve never tried to write up a complicated cake recipe like this, so please let me know if any of the steps are confusing!

(I feel like it was a good choice to put 25 stars on my 50th birthday cake, and just 1 candle. 🙂 I thought about 50 stars, but it was getting crowded…)


Sri Lankan Butter Cake with Passionfruit Frosting, Fresh Mango, and Lemon Curd

I’m always a little disappointed by American birthday cakes, because I grew up with Sri Lankan butter cake, which I much prefer. It’s a slight variation on the classic British pound cake, and a legacy of colonization. Historically in Sri Lanka, margarine would often be used instead of butter, due to cost, but butter tastes better. This is a somewhat dry cake, which makes it work beautifully with tea if served plain, and pairs well with your choice of fruit filling and frosting for a celebration cake.

NOTE: This recipe is designed for either a square or round cake cooked in a single 8″ or 9″ pan. If you plan to use different sizes of pan, adjust cooking times accordingly. For a classic ribbon cake, you’ll want to cook in separate batches or in multiple pans at the same time, so you can color each layer of cake differently. For 3-4 thin layers cooked separately, bake for roughly 15-20 minutes.

Butter Cake:
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 1/4 c. butter, room temperature
1 1/4 c. sugar
4 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/3 c. milk, room temperature
1 T rosewater (or a few drops rose essence)
2 t. vanilla extract

zest of one lime (or lemon)

Passionfruit Frosting:
2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
5 c. powdered sugar
6 T passionfruit puree

food coloring (optional)

Mango & Lemon Curd Filling:
2 c. chopped fresh mango (thawed from frozen works fine)

1/4 c. lemon curd


1. Preheat oven to 325. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside. Butter and flour the pan(s) (baking spray with a mixture makes this easy).
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down sides a few times.
3. Beat in eggs and egg yolk one at a time, then add vanilla, rose, and lime or lemon zest.
4. Fold in milk and flour mixture alternately. (If adding food color, divide as desired and color at this stage.)

5. Add finished cake batter to a round 9″ pan and bake for 30-40 minutes (adjust as needed for your pans), until a toothpick comes out clean; turn out onto wire rack and let cool. Serve as is with a nice cup of tea, or add frosting for birthday cake.

NOTE: Cake may be made and refrigerated a day or two ahead (wrap tightly in plastic wrap once cooled), and then frosted, if desired.

1. Beat butter until pale and fluffy, scraping down sides a few times (about 5 minutes).
2. Add half of the powdered sugar, beat on low until mostly incorporated, then scrape sides, turn up to high, and beat until light and airy. Add remaining sugar and repeat process.

3. Slowly add in passionfruit puree; add food coloring if desired. Your frosting is ready to spread on a cake (or eat straight from the bowl).


1. Combine mango and lemon curd.


1. Layer cake, a thin layer of frosting, filling; repeat twice. (You may not use all the filling.)

2. Add the final layer and frost entire cake. Chill to set. Serve with any extra mango & lemon curd filling on the side, to add as desired.

NOTE: Americans often ask me where to find passionfruit puree. I’ve tried several, and so far, like Funkin Pro the best for strong passionfruit flavor, available online. It can also sometimes be found in the Mexican section of the grocery, in the frozen fruit section.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *