Featured, Kitchen

My “Authentically Me” Mango Cake

April 11, 2018

In honor of my birthday, I want to share a piece of me with you.
It, like me, is far less complicated than it seems.

Recipes to follow:
Blood Orange Vanilla Chiffon Layer Cake

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
Mango-Ginger Compote
Mango Cream Cheese Frosting

I turned 45 today, and it’s been a most rewarding experience—undoubtedly because I continue to throw down in an earnest effort to be my most authentic self and express gratitude for all that life has given me thus far. Of course, none of it would be possible without those in my life that actively reciprocate and love back. As my most authentic self, I experience more joy and am able to spread it to others. This cake gives a nod to my efforts toward personal authenticity. In sincere fashion, it embodies great flavor, and, like most things in life, it didn’t come easily.

It doesn’t always feel comfortable to show up as myself. I am most aware of my abundant quirks are abundant—what makes me different.

It has been quite a year for me personally. There were a lot of confusing times, and a lot of pain. In reflection, I imagine there were probably an excessive number of moments when I doubted myself and wasn’t fully true to myself. The good news is that one can never really run out of authenticity. It’s always right there waiting to be remembered. I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with people who want to show up to support and celebrate me, along with me. It makes the process of being my authentic self infinitely easier. This cake was made with the full support of a few really special people.

I feel most connected to myself in the kitchen, where I can dream up and cook special herb-centric dishes for those I love. As such, my birthday comes along with a big party founded upon a lengthy herbaceous menu washed down with lots of cocktails. There were #MuchosMangoes and this epic cake.

The cake, like life, came with challenges. The greatest challenge happened to be two online recipe failures for the chiffon part of the cake. I thought it would be easy enough to just use someone else’s chiffon cake recipe; afterall, I’m no kitchen newbie. I found a few good starts online, and I decided on one after reading through it and feeling confident the writer knew what she was doing. Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be true, and the first recipe bombed. First, I thought I did something wrong. This is what most people do when they encounter a shitty recipe: self-blame. After trying a few different batches of the same recipe, and about 20 eggs later, I confirmed that it wasn’t me; it was the recipe. It’s never an opportune time to fall victim to recipe failure, but it especially stinks when preparing for a special, celebratory event. Yet another reminder to remain careful when relying on new recipes!

I asked myself, “Was I about to ruin my own birthday cake?” The thought of that just about choked me before it propelled me in a direction to ensure that wouldn’t be the case.

I immediately began to scour the Internet for a better recipe. It was too late to change my idea. I was running out of ingredients and time. My party was the next day. I found one recipe by a blogger I trust, and the ingredients and method were similar to the first recipe I tried. Fortunately from that experience, I had some idea of what we needed to change. As I moved through the recipe, I suddenly realized the blogger was missing an entire important step, combining the meringue with the flour! In the other recipe I used, that was the part that failed, and I became panicked and feared total failure.

I had to take a moment to rally. I reminded myself who I was in the kitchen. I checked in with myself, and I wrote my own damn recipe right then and there. The first layer went in and turned out light, fluffy, airy and tall—just like my original vision for it. I baked all three layers, built up with compote and set with mango frosting. I had my resident artists decorate it, and the rest turned out to be an epic edible experience for many of my most favorite people.

Here is how you can have a piece of my authenticity in cake form!

Blood Orange Vanilla Chiffon Layer Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote, Mango Compote & Mango Cream Cheese Frosting

I don’t like sweet cakes. I don’t like plain or simple cakes. I require fresh fruits and natural flavors in my birthday cake. If I am going to make it, it will probably seem outrageous to others, but is rather simple to execute in the end. This cake has all of that.

Mango- Ginger Compote

Makes about 3 cups


3 large mangoes, chopped super fine
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
½ cup sugar
¾ cup water


Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes, stirring often. The compote will begin to thicken, and the fruit will breakdown in the syrup. Continue to stir, and cook another 10-15 minutes, or until really thick. Cool completely and refrigerate.

Strawberry –Rhubarb Compote

Makes about 3 cups


1 ½ cup finely chopped strawberries
1 ½ cup finely chopped rhubarb
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup water


Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes, stirring often. The compote will begin to thicken, and the fruit will breakdown in the syrup. Continue to stir, and cook another 10-15 minutes, or until really thick. Cool completely and refrigerate.

Blood Orange Vanilla Chiffon Layer Cake

Makes 3-9inch layers


2 ¼ cups cake flour (sifted)
1 cup sugar (superfine), plus ¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking poweder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup blood orange juice
½ cup cold water
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons blood orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 egg yolks (room temperature)
8 egg whites (room temperature)
½ cream of tartar


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease the sides of 3 9-inch round cake pans with butter, and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks, blood orange juice, water, oil and vanilla, until smooth. Slowly stir the flour mixture into the yolk mixture and whisk gently until smooth.

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed, using the bowl and whisk attachment of your stand mixer (Kitchen Aid) until soft peaks form (about 4 -5 minutes). Add the remaining ¼ cup superfine sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks appear.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold a little less than half of the egg whites into the egg yolk/flour mixture. This takes patience. Do it slowly until the clumps of egg whites totally dissolve into velvety cream. Repeat this process with the rest of the egg whites.

Scrape the batter into the three cake pans, making sure it is divided evenly. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 30 – 40 minutes, or until the edge of a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire baking rack. When totally cool, run a knife around the sides of the cake pan to release and then flip over onto a plate. Alternatively you can flip them per layer as you decorate.

Mango-Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 3 cups frosting

(You will need to make this recipe X2, but it is easier to make in a smaller batch)


2 -8 ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature and cut into cubes
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons) room temperature and cut into cubes
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
¼ cup mango puree (thick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Using your stand mixer (Kitchen Aid) with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until it softens a little. Start to add the butter a little at a time until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture is smooth. With the machine running on medium, add the mango puree and vanilla and continue to mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until a thick creamy frosting mixture is accomplished. Add a little more powdered sugar for a thicker mixture.

Now… for the cake’s assembly!

A word to the wise: use offset spatulas and a rotating cake stand (great for the active frosting stage) for best results.

Place your first layer on a cake stand, making sure the flattest side faces up. You can cut the cake to make it even, but I never do!

Place about ¾ of a cup of frosting on the layer. Using the offset spatula, spread it around evenly over the cake. You’ll want the frosting to spill over the sides. After the frosting is spread evenly, spoon over a generous layer of the mango compote, about 2 cups, again using the offset spatula to spread evenly.

Add the next layer of cake and repeat the frosting process (about ¾ of a cup) until a smooth even layer covers the cake. Gently spoon a generous amount of strawberry-rhubarb compote evenly over the cream cheese, using the offset spatula.

Add the final layer, and begin to spread a thin layer of frosting to the top, making sure you allow the frosting to pour over the sides.

At this point, it’s important to do a crumb coat that covers all sides. A crumb coat helps seal in any crumbs and keeps the cake inside the frosting. This takes a lot of patience, and I like to start with the cracks between each layer. I usually take two offset spatulas, and I start by pushing the frosting that spilled down the side gently between the cracks, trying to get a smooth, even surface. I add more frosting as needed. Once you have a crumb coat over the entire cake, pop the cake in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to let the cake settle and get cold so the final layer of frosting better glides over it.

Place a final layer of frosting over your entire cake. You can make it thin or thick, depending on your preference. I like just wavy marks. Some like it totally flat. Let your own preferences guide décor. It’s important to note that I decorated my cake with some mango slices and lavender flowers for a little flare!




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