Mango season is upon us and this Almond Mango Curd Cake represents my intention to indulge in all things mango. Buttery, with a delicate crumb mimicking a pound cake, this almond mango cake is not too sweet and is baked with generous spoonfuls of mango curd heaped on top. Homey with a rustic soul, it’s nothing fancy but it is one of the most pleasing cakes I’ve baked. It just made me so happy.
My almond mango cake was inspired by Regina Schrambling’s lemon curd cake in the New York Times food columns. I changed the original recipe to make it healthier. I’m compulsive about trying to bake with whole grain flours and unrefined forms of sugar. Using whole grain flours necessitates altering the liquid content in the recipe and balancing the eggs and the fat as well. Goes without saying that, all my experiments don’t always succeed but this one did. Spectacularly so.
Making mango curd is simple. If you’ve been whisking up tangy lemon curd, (one of my favourites), then you have this down, easy. The routine stays the same with one little exception – a thick, sunset-hued lava flow of ripe mango pulp must to be added to the egg yolks and sugar. A couple of teaspoons of tart, tangy lemon juice helps to balance the sweetness of the mango and mask the egginess of the yolk, making for a balance of taste. Finally, a few cubes of butter bring the whole rich concoction together. The recipe makes more mango curd than you need to top the cake with. Serve it with the mango cake – its velvety texture lends the mango cake a touch of luxe. Many crooked fingers were used in my home to make sure that not a smidgen of mango curd was left lurking in any part of the bowl.
In Mumbai, the Alphonso or Aapus as it is locally known, is the king of mangoes. Pleasantly plump with deep saffron flesh, its pulp is luscious and juicy and devoid of fibres. I blitzed in the processor to get thick, luxurious pulp. Tinned mango pulp will do, as will other varieties of mango, so long as they are not fibrous.
In the last couple of years I have been making a serious effort to bake with whole grain flours wherever possible. Although this almond mango cake does not have a large quantity of flour, I tried tweaking it to incorporate healthier alternatives. Aside from the almond meal / flour, my version contains oatmeal and whole wheat flour. Since whole wheat flour needs more liquid, I added a few tablespoons of milk to lighten the batter. Plain yoghurt, single cream and sour cream will do the same job. Sieving the flours instead of just scooping with a cup or spoon is a good way to aerate the flour and keep the crumb light. And while the batter must be mixed well, over mixing can result in a dense, stodgy cake.
I never buy almond flour, simply because it can be very easily made at home. Just blanch the almonds for an hour, peel them, let them dry and powder in the food processor. You can do this a day ahead to save yourself time. Yes, homemade almond flour is not as finely ground as the store-bought one, but the difference is marginal; plus, I like a cake with a little bite – definitely adds character to the baked goods. For this particular mango cake, the blanched almonds were toasted lightly before they were pulverized.
Mango season in India is hot…very hot. So I store the cake covered in the fridge and bring to room temperature (that happens very quickly in this weather) before I serve it. The curd keeps in the fridge for 4-5 days. A beautiful cake, it is perfect for both sharing with your family or being served at dinner parties.
Almond-Mango Curd Cake
For the mango curd
- 250 g ripe mango puree
- 4 egg yolks
- 50 g sugar
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsps cornflour
- 50 g cold butter cut into cubes
For the cake
- 40 g oat flour or oatmeal
- 80 g whole wheat flour
- 50 g almond flour
- 127 g unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 4 tbsps milk
- 100 g + 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp toasted almonds sliced
To make the mango curd
- Whisk the yolks together with the sugar, lemon juice, cornflour and mango puree in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (double boiler). Continue to whisk or mix with a spatula for about 5 minutes till the eggs are cooked and the mixture thickens to a creamy consistency.
- Take the bowl off the heat and whisk in the butter till fully incorporated. Place a piece of cling film to on the surface of the curd so that it fully covers it; this will prevent a ‘skin’ from forming while it cools.
- Cool the mixture and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours till it firms up to a custardy texture.
To make the cake
- Preheat your oven to 175℃. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan and dust with flour, making sure to remove the excess flour. I line the bottom with a slightly oversized baking parchment before I grease and flour. It helps to transfer the cake to a plate / stand more easily.
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
- Sift the whole wheat and oat flours together with the salt and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add it to the butter mixture.
- Beat the eggs separately till foamy. Take care not to overbeat.
- Add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture, followed by the almond flour and milk
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Dollop spoonfulls of mango curd on the surface of the cake, sprinkle with toasted almond slices, sprinkle with a tbsp of sugar and bake for about 40 minutes. The curd should have baked and set and you should get a clean toothpick when you insert one into the cake.
- Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan before removing it and cooling on a wire rack.