Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mango-blueberry upside down cake

Mangoes are in season. This is surprising to me--seems like they would be a summer fruit--but they've begun showing up in our produce box, which means, their time is now.

I searched the Hungry Dog to see what I did last time we got mangoes and was reminded of the crazy mango bars, a post which, although I like it, makes me sad, because it reminds me of Frances. Like about one million other things do. Today is two months without her, and while it's gotten easier on a day-to-day level--(after all, you must adjust to things about which you have no choice)--when I think about that dog, I realize my heart is still smashed into tiny pieces.

Anyway, that doesn't change the fact that I had a couple of rapidly ripening mangoes to use up and on friday I came across Barbara's post about a mango upside-down cake with basil ice cream--an intriguing combination, no? I decided that this (yet another) rainy weekend would be a good time to give it a whirl.

Unfortunately, I encountered a few challenges from the get-go. For one, I couldn't tell if my caramel had darkened or actually burned, and since it was screaming hot, I couldn't taste it. Also, the butter and sugar seemed to remain sort of separated, which I was fairly sure wasn't right. But after awhile, I figured that was as good as it was going to get and so I turned off the heat.

Then, one of my gorgeous mangoes was spoiled. Luckily, by chance I'd picked up a little box of blueberries at the store earlier. So I sprinkled the berries in to fill the holes between the mango slices.

The rest of the cake was simple and pleasant to put together, even if it involved a number of steps, including separating the eggs, whipping the whites, and folding them in. I like doing all those things, though, and I find satisfaction in a producing a lovely, light batter.

When the cake emerged from the oven and I flipped it onto a plate, it looked beautiful and weird. The blueberries had turned purpley-black and with the glowing orange mango, it was fit for Halloween.

When we dug into it later, although the flavor was good, it seemed a bit heavy, which I hadn't expected. I had beaten the whites to stiff peaks and folded them in ever so carefully, but somehow I must have over-mixed and lost some of the airiness the cake should have had. It sounds like Barbara's was ethereal. Mine was more like a cake-shaped brick.

So, overall, while not a failure, not exactly a success. I had better luck with the plum upside down cake I made from Alice Waters's cookbook last year. But, I trust Barbara and her cake turned out perfectly. So, give it a go. Just be more gentle with the folding step. And let me know if you try that basil ice cream--sounds like a winner.


  1. It looks very pretty-was it a little sticky? It looks glossy.

    I'm sorry again for the loss of Frances. Hopefully soon, when you think of her-it will bring a smile remembering the funny things she did.

  2. Sorry about the cake-brick although it does look pretty. I'm not at the top of my baking game either tonight: just made some funny-looking (albeit fairly tasty) hamantaschen. As for mangoes, my new favorite twist is mango puree as a foil for haupia. Try that with your luau pork next time!

  3. I just came by from Barbara's blog, the pair of you are really tempting me to make this cake. I love how it turned all purply blue and orange, not just for Halloween.

    I like to freeze the mangoes I can't use and pop them into smoothies, with strawberries. We think of them as sunshine smoothies, great for days we need a pick-me-up. Sending hugs your way.

  4. tamilyn: Thanks, you are sweet :)

    Jary: sounds good. Do you add anything--sugar or lemon to it or is it just straight up puree?

    shaz: Give it a try--I am sure with your baking chops you will have better success than me. And, I like your idea of freezing mangoes, I'm going to remember that in the future.

  5. Looks yummy...even though it wasn't a super success. I didn't know mangoes were in season. Interesting CSA box! Sorry about Frances :(

  6. i just saw barbara's post and salivated--this is a great follow-up. i like the halloween-y look--tis a great use for wo-mangoes. :)

  7. ALY: Thanks :)

    grace: It is a striking cake, isn't it?

  8. Upside down cake might be one of my favorite things. And I like my caramel on the burnt side. :)

  9. The blueberry "dye" is quite nice! Blue/black is always a risk color for pastries, but I think it works here.

  10. Went shopping for rhubarb.. and found none! So picked up some mangoes! Will have to try this. Sounds like it could work all summer long (apricots, peaches, plums, pears, etc.) - Pete

  11. camille: the caramel actually did taste pretty good...

    Jessica: the blue-black looks ok, sort of rustic I guess--not as refined as the lovely colors you produce in your pastries!

    Pete: Also check out the Alice Waters upside down cake recipe that I posted last summer (I think).

  12. Sorry it didn't work out exactly how you wanted. I can't wait till we have Alphonso mango season, they are my favorite fruit in the world. Look out for them daaaahling, they are not to be missed.
    *kisses* HH

  13. I think it's the brown sugar. I'm so used to making caramel with white sugar and butter. Brown sugar was different...I agree it did separate a bit, but I kept whisking and it turned out OK. Yours looks great. Blueberries would be interesting to try.
    My mangoes were barely ripe. And the cake was quite light and airy. Don't know how to explain that one.

  14. HH: I'll give it another try. It was my mistake, not the recipe!

    Barbara: My leaden hand, perhaps??