Layered cakes can be stressful to make if you're bent on producing a perfect, wedding-cake finish. But they don't have to look perfect to make a splash. This vibrant cake explodes with colour and flavour in the deep coral of the papaya, the lashings of coconut cream and zingyness of the lime. Save any extra papaya compote for spreading on toast; it's delicious.
For the papaya compote
1 ripe papaya (about 600g after peeling and deseeding), cut into roughly 2cm pieces
200g caster sugar
½ vanilla bean (optional)
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
60ml lime juice (from 2 large limes)
For the sponge cake
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
275g caster sugar
finely grated zest and juice from 2 large limes – you will need 1 tbsp zest and 60ml juice
3 large eggs, at room temperature
225g self-raising flour
¼ tsp salt
125ml coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
For the coconut cream
180ml coconut cream, cold
180ml double cream, cold
20g icing sugar
30g runny honey, agave or maple syrup
1. To make the papaya compote, combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Stir gently until the sugar has dissolved, then increase heat to medium and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes until the mixture looks like loose jam. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then lift out the spices and vanilla bean (if using).
2. To make the sponge, preheat the oven to 160C fan-forced (180C conventional). Grease the base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin and line with baking paper.
3. Place the butter, sugar and lime zest in a cake mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Sift the flour and salt together, then on low speed, add to the creamed mixture in three batches, alternating with the coconut milk. Beat until it is just combined, then add the lime juice and vanilla essence. Mix until incorporated, then scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
4. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
5. When ready to assemble, slice the cake in half horizontally and place the bottom layer, right side up, on a serving plate. Keep the top half close by.
6. Place all the ingredients for the coconut cream in the bowl of a cake mixer and beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
7. To assemble the cake, spread about half the compote on top of the bottom sponge layer. Dollop half the whipped coconut cream on top of that, spreading it almost, but not quite, to the edge. Gently place the upper sponge layer on top, then spread the remaining coconut cream on top of that. Finish by dolloping some compote on top of the cream.
Tip: Each component is easy to make, but you can streamline the process by making the compote up to three days ahead (keep it refrigerated) and baking the cake the day before serving (or up to three weeks ahead, if freezing). All that's left to do on the day is whip the coconut cream and assemble.