Papaya Olive Oil Bundt Cake

by Dr. Hennie Fisher
Papaya Cake

Bundt cakes are not named thus because of a particular cake recipe, but rather because of the shape of the cake tin or Bundt pan, an American invention originally made from heavy cast aluminium. However, Bundt cakes may be an offshoot of the European brioche-like cake called Gugelhupf. In northern Germany, Gugelhupf is known as Bundkuchen (a combination of Bund and Kuchen). There appears to be uncertainty about the word Bund, which may mean ‘bunch’ or ‘bundle’, a reference to the particular way that the cake batter is bunched around the tube pan.

Although olive oil is not commonly used in cakes, it is a frequently used ingredient in cakes from the Southern Mediterranean countries such as Liguria, Crete or even Tunisia. Be careful to not use overly powerful flavoured olive oils, as they will affect the taste of the cake, but mild fruity olive oils work excellently with the papaya purée.

This recipe requires a dessert wine, offering a little additional sweetness but also some flavour interest. It is probably not a great idea to use your very best Noble Late Harvest for this, but deeper richer dessert wines will provide a fuller flavoured cake. One could probably get away with using a little muscadel or even a sweet sherry or a white port.

The cake lasts a couple of days, but because it does not have butter in its shelf life is limited, and after day 3 the texture deteriorates somewhat. However, it is not a very large cake, and one should easily use it up in a day or so. It could be served with whipped cream, but because of the olive oil, it has a distinct Mediterranean flavour, and is therefore much better with double thick full cream plain yoghurt. It could equally well be served as dessert – increase the glaze and keep some extra to dollop along with a nice thick slice of cake and yoghurt.

Ingredients for one large Sponge Cake that can easily be cut into 12 – 16 portions:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 165 ml olive oil
  • 50 ml dessert wine
  • 150 ml papaya purée
  • 300 g cake flour
  • 165 g castor sugar
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 1,25 ml (¼ teaspoon) bicarbonate of soda
  • 2,5 ml (½ teaspoon) salt

For the glaze:

  • 150 g icing sugar
  • 150 ml papaya purée
  • 60 ml olive oil


  • Selection of edible flowers and petals
  • Cut out papaya designs, such as cubes or large Parisian balls


Set the oven at 170°C, with an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Liberally grease and flour a Bundt pan, ensuring that all the little indents and design of the tin is carefully prepared – tap out any excess flour so that any decorative pattern in the tin remains sharp.

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and set aside. In a freestanding mixer, beat the eggs with the whisk until very foamy, pale in colour and somewhat thick. Mix together the olive oil, papaya purée and dessert wine, and add to the egg mixture. Beat lightly – some of the volume of the eggs will deflate, so do not over mix. Add the flour mix and whisk only until all the flour is evenly mixed into the liquid mixture. Transfer to the Bundt pan, smooth the surface lightly and place the cake on top of a baking sheet into the oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a testing skewer comes out clean. Remove and let the cake just sit for around 5 minutes, and then turn it out onto a cooling rack on another baking sheet.

Mix together the glaze ingredients and pour over the warm cake, so that the majority of the glaze can be absorbed into the cake. Carefully spoon up some of the excess glaze that may have run over the cake and pour again over the cake, but be careful not to incorporate any cake crumbs. Cool the cake and decorate with edible flowers and papaya shapes.