Celebrating Mangoes: Mango Saffron Cupcakes | No-Fuss Mango Cupcakes

Mango season has been around for a while now and I have not posted any mango-related stuff…even though I’ve been eating so many. I usually make something or the other- either a crumble, a cake, or some good old-fashioned fruits with custard. ย And yes, some savory dishes as well, like a chutney or even a mango curry.

This year, however, I’ve pretty much been eating them as is the entire season. I’ve had a near-perfect season. I haven’t encountered a sad or tasteless mango thus far. It’s been pretty darn good. So each time I bought mangoes, I’d just cut and eat them- I didn’t even feel like turning them into anything different.

Until I realized that time is running out. (Gasp!) I’d be pretty pathetic if I didn’t reflect some kind of seasonal change on the blog right? Because I’ll be honest with you- other than seasonal fruit (mangoes, cherries, lychees, strawberries,) and corn in summer and red carrots in winter, I really don’t what seasonal produce to expect in India.

Growing up in Kerala, there was mango season, monsoon and then the rest of the year.

When I lived in Delhi, I knew winter had set in when those gorgeous deep-coral carrots arrived in the market.

Considering I know so little about seasonal produce, I couldn’t let this mango season slip by. And I baked these cupcakes.

While mangoes are a wonderful dessert on their own, last year I realized that they bake pretty well too. After last year’s mango custard cake, I wanted to try baking a cake where the mango flavor was completely infused in the batter- and which had bits of fruit to bite into as well. I made this by trial and it is very pleasant indeed. Initially, I thought the mangoes would make the cake sticky, but that was not the case. The saffron leaves a subtle, flowery-honey taste. And that sun-kissed hue ๐Ÿ™‚

The rain came in sideways on my balcony when I took this picture!

The rain came in sideways on my balcony when I took this picture!



  • 100 g butter
  • 200 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 4-5 strands of saffron
  • 1/4 cup fresh mango puree
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh mangoes, cut into small cubes. (Use half of these in the batter and the remaining for decoration.)


  • First, make your ‘mango milk.’ Combine the mango puree and the milk and add the saffron strands to it so it infuses. (You can just blitz 1/4 cup fresh mango and milk in the blender too; or if you don’t have fresh puree, use packaged.)
  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 C and line a cupcake tin with liners.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and cardamom powder in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  • With a spatula, fold the flour mixture and the mango-milk mixture into the batter, alternately, mixing well after each addition. You should start and end with flour (flour-milk-flour-milk-flour.)
  • Take half the diced mangoes and place in a bowl. Sieve 2 tablespoons of regular flour over them, and gently combine with a spoon. (This will prevent the mangoes from sinking to the bottom while baking.) Gently fold these mangoes pieces into the batter.
  • Pour into cupcake moulds, filling batter 2/3 of the way up.
  • Bake in the oven at 180 C for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Take cupcakes out of the oven and allow to cool completely before adding diced mangoes on top.
The fruit bits didn't sink!

The fruit bits didn’t sink!

My Blog Turned 1! So I Baked A Mango Saffron Custard Cake.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

The batter will be quite thick- almost like icing

This is the first batch of custard which I didn’t pull off the heat soon enough- you can see how it coagulated!

Cake batter, followed by the custard, followed by another even layer of cake batter…

…topped with mango slices and saffron!

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.

The custard was just the right consistency between the crumbly cake layers

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!