One of the (many) challenges of being part of my family is the range of dietary requirements. We’ve got vegans, wheat allergies, even caffeine-and-chocolate-induced migraine sufferers so finding a cake that can be enjoyed by everyone is no small task. Over the years we have worked our way through a lot of overly-dry or overly-wet, stodgy, and weird-tasting cakes, all in the hope of finding a recipe that is not only passable, but as delicious and delectable as any good cake should be. And this could be that cake.
This is a gluten-free, grain-free, vegan cake, that actually has the flavour and texture of cake. It is light and delicate and beautifully moist, all while containing no outlandish or obscure ingredients. It is also perfect for this time of year – mangoes are cheaper and more abundant in supermarkets and greengrocers, and fruity, tropical, coconut flavours give major summer vibes, even if the weather isn’t cooperating.
If you’ve ever made a smoothie with fresh mango, you’ll notice that it tends to be much more foamy and aerated than with other fruit (though avocado can have a similar effect). This led me to consider its cake ingredient potential – fruit purees are great for binding and adding moisture, but too much can cause the cake to be heavy and dense. My hypothesis was that I might be able to use mango in greater quantities than other fruit purees, creating a cake that is really moist and holds together well, but is still light and delicate.
My main concern was that the cake wouldn’t rise, due to the quantity of mango and yogurt.
I needn’t have worried.
On my first attempt, as soon as I mixed the wet and dry ingredients the batter starting swelling to a mousse-like consistency, rather like that insulation foam that you squirt out of a can. I bunged it in the oven as quickly as a could, where it continued to rise very effectively.
So after cleaning the oven, I made a note to go easy on the baking soda next time round and also use a cake tin with higher sides. The cake itself was actually not bad – the texture was along the right lines and the flavour was pretty good, so it didn’t require a complete rethink, just some tweaking to avoid having to clean the oven again.
The process is not dissimilar to a lot of vegan cakes; you measure out the wet and dry ingredients separately then combine at the last minute before baking. For the wet ingredients you need two mangoes, and if they are pretty small you might want another for the topping. Peel the mangoes then use a knife to slice off the as much of the flesh around the stone as you can. You’ll need 400g mango for the cake, and anything above that you can pop in the fridge to use for the topping. I haven’t tried this with tinned mangoes but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work just as well. Blitz the mango using a food processor, blender, or stick blender until you have a smooth puree, then add coconut yogurt, lemon juice, sugar, and oil and whizz again until fully combined.
The main dry ingredients are ground almonds and gram flour (also know as chickpea flour or besan, and you can find it in the world food section in supermarkets). The ground almonds give the sponge its crumb-like texture, and the gram flour also acts as an egg-replacer, helping bind the ingredients together. The downside of gram flour is that it tastes very bitter before it’s cooked, so no eating the raw batter I’m afraid. Baking powder and bicarbonate of soda provide the lift, salt gives a little extra flavour, and then it’s all mixed together.
Make sure your oven is hot and your cake tin is greased and base-lined with baking paper before you combine the wet and dry ingredients. As soon as they are mixed together the bicarbonate of soda will start reacting with the lemon juice – you’ll see the batter getting puffy – and it’s this reaction that will help the cake to rise and give you a nice light crumb, so you want to get it in the oven straight away before all that gas creating potential has run its course. Bake for 45–50 minutes at 160C fan. Similarly to brownies, it can be a challenge to know when the cake is done. It’s worth checking after 40 minutes in case the top of the cake is browning too much and you may want to cover it with some tin foil before cooking for another 5–10 minutes. I tend to stick a skewer in the middle and pull the sponge aside a little to double check that there’s no liquid batter (the hole can always be covered with icing), as due to the moisture levels in the sponge, a skewer may not come out clean even when the cake is done.
Finally, for the icing, I suggest a really simple mixture of coconut yogurt, sweetened with a little maple syrup, drizzled over your cake and then adorned with bright and cheery cubes of mango. You could use icing sugar, agave syrup or golden syrup instead of maple syrup, but I love the flavour of maple and it loosens the yogurt to a more icing-like consistency. And you can always add some edible flowers if you’re feeling fancy, or want the quickest possible route to a cake that photographs reasonably well so you can get on and eat it.
If you give this a go, I would love to hear or see how you get on! You can comment below or @ me on Instagram or Twitter @greedybearbakes.
Vegan Mango and Yogurt Cake
A wonderfully light and moist cake that's both vegan and grain-free, made with mango puree and coconut yogurt
Vegan, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Soya-free
For the sponge:
- 2 good-sized mangoes*
- 100g coconut yogurt
- 100g caster sugar
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or olive / vegetable / sunflower oil)
- 1½ tbsp lemon or lime juice (about ½ a lemon or one small lime)
- 125g ground almonds
- 100g gram flour (chickpea flour / besan)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ¼ tsp salt
For the topping:
- 200g coconut yogurt
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (or icing sugar / agave / golden syrup)
- 100g (approx.) fresh mango, diced
- Pre-heat the oven to 160C fan, grease a 20cm cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
- Peel the 2 mangoes and slice as much of the flesh as you can away from the stone. Weigh out 400g, and put any extra in the fridge to use for the topping later on.
- Using a food processor, blender or stick blender, whizz 400g mango until you have a smooth puree. Add 100g coconut yogurt, 100g caster sugar, 3 tbsp oil, and 1½ tbsp lemon or lime juice, and whizz again until smooth and combined.
- In a large bowl, measure out 125g ground almonds then sieve in 100g gram flour, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda and ¼ tsp salt. Whisk until fully incorporated.
- Ensuring the oven is at temperate and your cake tin is nearby, pour the mango mixture into the flour mixture and whisk vigorously until just combined. Scrape into the cake tin, level, and bake for 45–50 mins. I would recommend checking after 40 minutes, and covering the cake with foil if the top is already dark golden. When the cake is done a skewer should come out relatively clean, bearing in mind that it is a very moist sponge. Leave to cool for 10–15 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a cooling rack.
- Once the cake is completely cool, mix 200g coconut yogurt with 2 tbsp syrup or icing sugar and spread over the top of the cake. Dice the remaining mango and pile on top.
*You’ll need 400g mango flesh to make the sponge, which you should easily get from two mangoes. However if your mangoes are on the small side you might want to make sure you have a third to use for the topping.