Mango Coconut Cayenne Cake

We’re particularly happy with last weekend’s baking experiment. Most cake recipes that use cayenne are chocolate cakes, but we wanted to see if the spice would work with other flavors in cake, and we think it does. Both mango and coconut take spice very well, and so we saw no need to hold back – there’s a whole heaping tablespoon of cayenne in this cake. Not to mention our other favorite cake spices, ginger and cinnamon. Despite the heat, which will be present in every bite, the cake is sweet, fruity and light – just what you want for a slice of dessert. Having it with a bit of mango basil sauce helps, too.

For the cake:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tbsp powdered ginger
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup white sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup mango puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract

For the mango basil sauce:
3 mangoes, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp dried basil

Make your cake. Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Cover the bottom of each with a circle of parchment or wax paper.

In one bowl, combine and sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. In another, combine coconut milk and mango puree. Mix well.

In a large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar gradually. Beat for 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Beat after each addition. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

Add one-third of the flour mixture and the milk mixture. Beat on low speed or by hand until just incorporated. Add vanilla and orange extracts. Add remaining flour and milk mixtures in two batches. Beat between additions. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Stir by hand to finish.

Divide batter between prepared pans. Smooth surfaces with rubber spatula. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes or until  the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a cake tester or skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes.

Make your sauce. Combine mango slices, white wine, orange juice, sugar, basil and cornstarch in a sauce pan. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until fragrant and thick. Serve warm.

Have some cake. Have it with a bit of cream too, if you like. And if you really like the heat, add another dash of cayenne on top of your fruit sauce.

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