It has been an entire MONTH since I posted. I know. Quite awful indeed. This little blogasaurus turned one on the first of June, and I should have baked a cake and posted then, but I was suffering from malaise, as Blair Waldorf would say dramatically. I actually had a very bad bout of viral fever, which I caught from my mother and passed on to my one-year-old son, and all of us were very ill-disposed for a good week.
The reason was an unhealthy number of weddings we had to attend in the latter part of May. 9 different soirees to attend, in the form of luncheons, cocktail parties, dinners, intimate family affairs and yes, the wedding ceremonies itself. The thought of dressing up and spending so much time with friends and family was very appealing at first, but by the third day I wanted to hide under my saree and not make conversation.
As a result of excessive merrymaking and high temperatures, I naturally fell behind when it came to work and spent the last 2 weeks playing catch up. And now, I am finally back on track and in good health, and I have time to bake and cook again.
I discovered the blog Eat Little Bird a while back and have been smitten since. I chanced upon the blog when I was looking for a great yellow cake recipe. I was sick of my vanilla cakes looking kind of Tilda Swinton-ish. You know, kind of like pale meringue. (I love Tilda the actress, by the way. No one could have played the White Witch better!) I saw my friend Deepthi’s post about adding custard powder to get a perfect sponge cake, and further googling brought me to this wonderful Rhubarb Custard Tea Cake at Eat Little Bird.
Since I believe in adding a little spin to every cake recipe I find, I chose to substitute the rhubarb with…MANGO!!
Yes, it is mango season here in the tropics, and boy am I loving it! Mangoes for breakfast, mangoes at tea time and mangoes with cream and honey for dessert after dinner. Lord a-missy me, I do believe I could eat mangoes all day. (I watched Gone With The Wind TWICE on my laptop when I was ill. Just feelin’ some Southern comfort, that’s all it be. You can gag now if you need to.)
Anyway, if you visit the original recipe and look at the pictures, you will see how beautiful the rhubarb stalks look- a beautiful contrast of yellow and magenta. Since my cake would run the danger of looking rather jaundice-y with the combined yellowness of the batter and the mangoes, I sprinkled a few strands of saffron for a visual breather. And also because saffron has such an indulgent, calming fragrance. It just makes any sweet treat a little more luxurious :)
This cake was rather crumbly, perhaps it was because I got too much air in the batter- I am still figuring out kitchen physics, so maybe it became crumbly because of a completely different reason. Either way, this is an extremely pleasant cake and the custard in the middle makes it that much more fun. I was happy to note that the custard came out of the oven just like in the original…” firm upon slicing, yet with still enough wobble to provide a contrasting texture to the cake.”
The tartness from the mango was a happy variation from the plain vanilla custard cake.
MANGO SAFFRON CUSTARD CAKE (Adapted from Eat, Little Bird’s Rhubarb Custard Tea Cake.)
For the cake:
- 200 grams butter
- 1/2 cup castor sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup vanilla custard powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 large mango (I used alphonso) sliced lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon saffron strands, to sprinkle over the top
- 1 tablespoon melted butter, for brushing over the top
- 1 tablespoon sugar, to sprinkle over the top
For the custard:
- 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
- 1/4 cup castor sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C
- First, get your custard on. Whisk together the custard powder and sugar in a saucepan. Then, place it on the stove, add in the milk and allow to boil, while stirring continuously.
- As soon as the custard thickens and starts bubbling, pull it off the heat and add the butter. (Please do pull it off the heat immediately. With my first batch of custard, I was so engrossed in staring at the bubbles that it got too thick and coagulated and formed lumps and was basically rendered useless.)
- Cover and allow custard to cool.
- Next, start on the cake. Cream the butter and sugar together until it is fluffy.
- Then, add in one egg at a time, and 1/4 cup flour so that the batter begins to come together.
- Next, add the remaining flour, plus the custard powder and the baking powder. You will get a pretty thick batter, but do not worry, that is how it is supposed to be.
- Grease the bottom and sides of your baking dish and spread half the batter evenly at the bottom.
- Top this with a layer of the cooled custard, followed by another layer of the cake batter. Make sure the second layer of cake batter covers the custard evenly and all around the edges.
- Arrange the mango slices on top, pressing them into the batter slightly.
- Sprinkle the saffron over the top.
- Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle the extra sugar as well.
- Bake at 180C for about 1 hr and 20 minutes.
I followed Thanh’s recipe almost down to the wire, measurements and all, the only difference being I used 1 large alphonso mango, cut into slices, instead of rhubarb stalks.
The only thing I was unhappy about? The fact that I didn’t have a deeper 8-inch baking dish! I ended up distributing the batter and mango between two not-so-deep 6-inch baking dishes. Had I baked one large cake, the layers would have been more prominent, that’s all. Also, since I was using a smaller baking dish, I needed to keep it in the oven for about 55 minutes.
And it was all yellow. C’mon, we all liked Coldplay at some point, right?
Here’s to another year of cooking and blogging; baking and making new friends!