Make it. Eat it. Love it.
Dragon fruit is the most beautiful fruit. Ever. I dare you to try and find something more beautiful then this. It’s so pretty that you may not even want to eat it because you would rather just stare at it instead. The outrageous pink outside leads way to the more outrageous magenta flesh inside spekled with tiny black seeds. Its like mother nature was on acid when she created this flamboyant fruit. It makes people stop and point and say “what is that?”.
Well it made me stop and point and say “what is that?”. It was last year, only my second time visiting the shuk here in Be’er Sheva. I was with my friend Nadia and we were shopping for ingredients to make a back to school brunch for our husbands and their new classmates starting their medical school journey. While gathering beautiful fruits for a fruit salad we spied this crazy looking hot pink fruit with what looked like flames coming out of it. I have seen photos of dragon fruit before but never had the pleasure of holding one, buying one, eating one. Until now. I didn’t care what it tasted like, I wanted it. Our jaws dropped to the floor when we cut into it. I wanted to bottle the color and paint a wall in my house with it. All the pictures I have seen of dragon fruit have a beautiful white inside but the ones we had bought had the most vibrant magenta coloring. I was in love.
The taste of this neon fruit isn’t as dramatic as you would think. I was expecting a burst of fruity magenta flavor but instead got a mildly sweet juicy burst instead (think mild kiwi crossed with watermelon). For most people it’s a bit of a let down from what they are expecting, but I quite enjoyed it. It was refreshing and was perfect mixed into a fruit salad. After my frist experience with my new lovely dragon fruit, I was excited to be able to have it regularly and try new things with it. However, like most things in Israel, it is seasonal and that unfortunately was it for me and dragon fruit last year. But this is a whole new year and a whole new dragon fruit season and Im being smart about it and stocking up.
I wanted to do something amazing with dragon fruit, something special, but was totally failing at finding anything online other then dragon fruit granita or sorbet. After watching the Masterchef episode where the contestants battled it out in the pressure test round by baking beautiful layer cakes, I knew what direction dragon fruit and I were heading. I was hoping for a bright magenta batter and was excited to get that as I mixed the dragon fruit in, but when baking the color completely disappeared. Boo. But the addition of dragon fruit made the cake sweet and unbelievable moist. I never made a layer cake with more then just 2 layers before and was beyond excited when I cut into this one to see how beautiful it was. I was on the phone with my mom and completely stopped our conversation to brag about the awesome cake I just made. She asked if it tasted good and I replied quickly with, “who cares what it tastes like?! Its soooo pretty!”. By the way, it was pretty delicious. I totally would have been saved in that pressure test kitchen.
For Cake Batter
2 sticks butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pans
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting pans
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk
1 dragon fruit, pureed
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
For Decorating and Filling
1 dragon fruit, half sliced thin and half cut into cubes
For Cake (makes two 9 inch cakes)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan and dust with flour, tapping out excess, set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using an electric mixer.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla.
Add the flour mixture and the milk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour and beat until combined after each addition.
Beat in the dragon fruit until combined.
Fill prepared pan with half of the batter.
Bake cakes for 35-40 minutes or until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cool completely.
In a mixing bowl cream the butter with an electric mixer.
Sift the sugar and cocoa powder together and gradually add to the butter, beating well after each addition.
Add the cream and vanilla and beat until well blended and fluffy.
To Assemble Cake
Cut the two 9 inch cakes in half horizontally and set each piece next to each other.
Place first layer of cake on cake plate and add a thin layer of frosting to top.
add a few pieces of sliced dragon fruit.
Place next layer of cake on top and add a thin layer of frosting and dragon fruit slices.
Repeat with the following cake layers.
Once the last layer of cake is placed, frost the cake with remaining frosting and top with cubed dragon fruit.