[Recipe] Mango Upside Down Cake

Whether you are following your nose and creeping front yards to forage the perfect specimen, or running and hiding while trying not to squish the rotten ones, no one can escape mango season in South Florida. It’s here!

Michael surprised us this morning with the fruits of his Graham tree home-baked into an upside down cake.  Crumbs are about all that’s left!  “It’s no Haden, but my kids love when I make this cake, so I brought you guys some!”  Graham is a fiberless cultivar that originated in Trinidad and became popular nursery stock tree in Florida for home growing due to its fine flavor and good disease resistance. It was even selected as a curator’s choice mango for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s 2008 mango festival. Not bad!  

Fresh fruit caramelized and embedded in rich buttery cake makes a great dessert any time of year, especially this time.  The beauty of this one-pan cake is its simplicity: you don’t even need a cake pan.  When people take their first bite, the reaction is always the same: oh my God! It’s great with a scoop of basil ice cream as a point of contrast to the caramelized to the point of almost burnt brown sugar… or just plain vanilla will always do!  Enjoy this oldie but goodie below, from Michael’s Genuine Food: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat.

Mango Upside-Down Cake

Serves 8 to 10

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
2 1-pound firm-ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into ½ inch slices
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, separated
2⁄3 cup buttermilk
Basil Ice Cream (recipe follows), optional

Put a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add the 4 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted, stir in the brown sugar. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture looks like caramel, about 5 minutes. Swirl the pan around so the caramel covers the bottom completely. Remove from the heat. Tightly fan the mango slices over the caramel in concentric circles to cover the entire bottom, overlapping the slices.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat the softened butter with a handheld electric mixer on medium-high speed. Gradually sprinkle in 1 cup sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Stir in the buttermilk, then add the remaining dry ingredients, stirring to incorporate.

Beat the egg whites in another bowl with cleaned beaters until frothy.

Sprinkle in the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and continue to beat until the whites hold stiff peaks. Gently fold half of the beaten whites into the batter with a rubber spatula to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining whites; it’s okay
if some white streaks remain.

Pour the batter over the mangoes and spread evenly to the edges of the skillet. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center, 45 to 50 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the inside rim of the pan to loosen it from the sides and make sure the cake will come out easily. Set a serving plate firmly on top of the pan and carefully flip it over to invert the cake onto the plate. Cool before serving with basil ice cream, if desired.

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