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A Simple Mango Cake for Mother’s Day

May 12, 2018

Sometimes simplicity can lead us to a place beyond opulence

Some might argue that I shouldn’t have a voice for  mothers or mothering, after all I don’t have kids of my own and I haven’t had a relationship with my own mother for over thirty-four years, a decision I sit comfortably with, mind you.   Arguably, (my dad always said I liked to argue), I would assert, that because I don’t have kids or a mother, I have excellent far-sighted vision towards the act of mothering. With that I have come to recognize the paramount value of mothers and their nurturing powers and prowess. I have spent many hours in life cooing over mothers and their relationships as I travel the globe. I derive great joy from observing mothers in their natural state of being and loving purely.

When I think about mothers and the many types of mothering relationships that exist, I am often reminded of the “simplicity” or naturalness of motherhood- the instinct of it. Simple is by no means easy, motherhood is by far the most difficult job the planet knows.

At the heart of motherhood there seems to be a power source that omits a natural sense of nurturing that (for most mothers) guides them, and they in turn guide those they love, through this often confusing thing we call life. This power is one of the most potent sources of energy I have ever been around. It’s an innate sense of fidelity to something greater than oneself. Not a sacrifice of self, but an essential piece of a larger body. And it always seems so simple and natural despite the tremendous challenges most of us recognize that come with motherhood. But there, inside them, lies the power that drives them to persevere, to move forward, to continue to try and connect with themselves while still connecting to a larger energy source; family, community, planet. I’m in awe of mothers and mothering. My father did the best he could as a father and mother to me and my brothers, but I know I missed out on receiving one of the most potent forms of love a person can be granted- motherly love.

My own expression of motherly love is tied in with my passion for pleasing others and more often than not reveals itself through food. I have long been a curator of cooking and eating experiences on this particular holiday and brought families together in cooking and food environments that were nurturing, educational and joy filled; simple and natural happenings that fed the power of mothers.

To stop and acknowledge the depth of power mothers possess on this one-day is not too much to ask of any of us. Our lives are all enriched, even those of us who do not have good mothers, by the many mothers who give unconditionally daily for the greater good of something greater than just one person.

That, for me, is all quite sensational.

I think the day is deserving of a thoughtful cake recipe.

One that is easy (perfect for kids to make) and cheap, that doesn’t take much time, showcases fresh healthy fruit (mangoes- what can I say ?) and has rich rewards of opulence, a simple cake that possesses flavor and reward that you cant help but wonder how it came to be.

Strawberry & Mango Whipped Cream Coconut Milk Cake

The coconut milk seems to give this vanilla cake more richness than regular milk. Feel free to interchange regular milk and coconut milk depending on what you have on hand.

Serves 8-10


For the cake

1 ¾ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
½ cup melted butter
½ cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the mango strawberry topping

8-10 strawberries, chopped
1 mango, cubed small
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar

For the whipped cream

1 ½ cups of heavy whipping cream, very cold
½ teaspoon vanilla


For the cake

Preheat to 350°F. Butter a 9 -inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add the eggs, melted butter, coconut milk and vanilla. Mix either by hand or with a mixer. Gently pour the batter into the cake pan and spread evenly, all the way to the sides.

Bake the cake about 20-25 minutes or until its slightly browned around the edges and the blade of a knife comes out clean.   Cool the cake completely before topping.

For the strawberry- mango topping

While the cake is baking combine the strawberries, mangoes, lemon zest and juice and sugar and gently mix together. Let stand at room temperature while the cake is baking.

For the whipped cream

Once the cake has cooled completely. Make the whipped cream. Combine the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. ( A cold metal bowl works great but not a big deal if you don’t do this.)

Using an electric mixer, or an electric whisk attachment to your hand held emulsifier (use a deep large cup if you use this to avoid splatter), whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over whip, the cream will become harder and more butter like if you over whip it.

The Kitchn has a great tutorial and tips on making perfect whipped cream.

To assemble the cake

Dollop your whipped cream evenly over the top of the cake. Spread it to make a shallow well for the fruit to go into, making sure there is a layer of whipped cream over the entire top of the cake. Gently spoon your fruit topping into the whipped cream well and arrange fruit neatly as your creative spirit guides you. Refrigerate the cake for about 20 minutes to chill slightly before serving.

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