Mango, passion fruit and coconut cake

This year for her birthday, my daughter asked if I could make her a mango cake. An unusual request coming from a nearly-8-year-old (I was expecting mermaid or unicorn to be honest!), but I love the fact that for her, it was all about the flavour.

After a bit of discussion, we decided that coconut, passion fruit and lime would be good flavours to pair with the mango. I asked if she wanted it to be in the shape of anything, but she said that cake-shaped would be fine.

I built the cake in a tall ring mould which I lined with cellophane. The cake is quite delicate and I actually broke one of the layers in half trying to lower it into the mould, but you couldn’t tell once it was finished. I thought I’d show what it looked like as a ‘naked cake’ before I added the coconut flakes and pineapple flowers.

Coconut and lime cake

The coconut cake recipe is 100% Dan Lepard’s. It’s one of my absolute favourites and I’ve made it a lot since it was first published in the Guardian 15 years ago. The only thing I did differently was use extra lime juice to soak the cake in place of the rum (it was for a children’s party after all!).

Mango and Passionfruit Mousse

After a bit of mousse research, I based my recipe mainly on the Cakesperiments website. I wanted to incorporate passion fruit and I only had leaf gelatine, so there was a bit of adapting to do before I came up with this final version, but it was lovely! It set fully, but without being rubbery and tasted properly fruity. My daughter isn’t a fan of overly creamy things, so the tanginess of the yoghurt pleased her.

  • 12 sheets gold gelatine
  • 450 g double cream
  • 250 g icing sugar
  • 250 g Greek yoghurt
  • 600 g canned alphonso mango puree
  • 90 g passionfruit pulp (including seeds)
  1. Soak the gelatine sheets in a large jug of cold water while you prepare the rest of the mousse.
  2. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and set aside. Sieve the icing sugar over the yoghurt in a large mixing bowl, then stir together until smooth. Stir in 500 g of the mango puree.
  3. Put the rest of the mango puree in a small saucepan with 100 ml water and the passionfruit pulp and bring to a simmer. Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine sheets, then take the pan off the heat and stir in the gelatine to dissolve.
  4. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a bowl to remove the passionfruit seeds and any undissolved pieces of gelatine. Add a ladle of the mousse mixture and stir well, then scrape everything into the mousse bowl and stir until smoothly combined.
  5. Fold the cream into the mousse mixture until there are no remaining streaks of white, then layer up the mousse with the cake in a cellophane-lined mould. (If there’s any leftover, pour it into glasses and leave to set as a chef’s perk for later!). Set in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

For the jelly layer

The jelly is more intensely flavoured than the mousse and gives it a proper patisserie-style finish. The mango roses are a bit of a faff, so feel free to leave them out, especially if you decide the make the pineapple flowers. I gave my daughter the choice and she decided that “more is more” in true 8-year-old style!

  • 3 sheets gold gelatine
  • 90 g passionfruit pulp with seeds
  • 150 g canned alphonso mango puree
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled
  1. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes while you prep the rest of the jelly.
  2. Put the passionfruit pulp and mango puree in a saucepan with 150 ml water. Bring to a simmer, then take it off the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine, then stir it into the mango mixture. Pass it through a sieve into a jug to remove the passionfruit seeds.
  3. To make the roses, cut the cheeks off the mangoes, then slice them as thinly as you can with a sharp knife. Curl a slice into a spiral, then wrap more slices around the outside to make a rose. Transfer carefully to a plate and repeat to make as many as you can.
  4. When the jelly has reached room temperature (but before it has started to set), arrange the mango roses on top of the mousse. Pour the jelly into the mould, then set in the fridge for an hour or so.

Dried pineapple flowers

I loved these when I saw Syabira make them on Bake Off this year! I wondered if they would taste a bit woody and uninteresting, but far from it: the sweet and sour flavours of the pineapple are hugely enhanced when you evaporate off the water content, and the texture was somewhere between chewy and crisp. What was a bit of an afterthought for me turned out to be my daughter’s favourite part of the cake!

  • 1 pineapple, peeled and eyes removed
  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C (120° fan) | 275F | gas 1 and sit two wire racks on top of two baking trays.
  2. The most difficult thing about making the flowers is cutting the pineapple thinly enough. The pineapple I had was too big in diameter for my mandolin, so I had to cut the slices by hand. The core is more difficult to cut through than the rest, so after a bit of trial and error, the best way I found was to slice down to the core, then start turning the pineapple, cutting down to the core as you go until you have a slice that’s still attached in the middle. Then saw through the core to release the slice. There will likely be quite a few casualties along the way, but you only need 12 good ones for the cake. Call the rest “pineapple carpaccio” and serve it with mint sugar, vintage Jamie Oliver style.
  3. Cut 6 slits into each slice to separate them into petals, making sure that all the petals stay attached to the core. Space out your twelve best slices on the wire racks and dry in the oven for 30 minutes on each side.
  4. Transfer the slices to a 12-hole muffin tin, return to the oven, then switch it off and leave to cool completely inside.

I experimented with keeping the sides of the cake ‘naked’ and having the pineapple flowers cascading down the cake. I think this would work really well if you had a plain jelly without the mango roses, perhaps with a cluster of pineapple flowers on top too.

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