mango gingerbread upside down cake

I need to be banned from Whole Foods until the Champagne mangos are out of season or at least not on sale anymore. Somehow I walk out of there with at least 6 every time. Maybe it’s partly to consol myself because I should be eating mangos in New Delhi, not Jamaica Plain, right now. But something in the air (ahem, a giant volcanic ash cloud) has me stuck here. Mangos and Kiran Desai are all I got. 
People, listen up, these mangos: sweet-tart, juicy, firm, flowery aromatic, golden perfect little orbs. Insane. Really. Stop reading and go buy yourself a bag of 6 right now. 
Risking redundancy, since I’ve already presented a baked mango incarnation this week, I present another. Because, well, I have that many mangos at my house. I made a coconut chiffon cake earlier this week with, you guessed it, mangos (and cream) layered inside and on top. It was kind of a mess – the cake collapsed on itself and, being impatient and short on time, I layered it still a little warm and the cream melted everywhere. Bad recipe, but good idea. I immediately set out day dreaming about reincarnating the cake in another form, namely as a caramelly coconut mango upside down cake. So, perusing my bookshelves and the internet for a recipe from which to start, I cam across a recipe for an apple gingerbread upside down cake on Smitten Kitchen. I was, well, smitten, and sufficiently distracted from coconut to abandon it all together, but not the mango, no. So, now to the “double redundancy” (a redundancy itself): ginger and mango together twice in one week. What can I say? It’s a winning combination.

I know, gingerbread in April? Here’s the thing. This season is what I call “pretend it’s spring.” It feels like spring, looks like spring, but here in New England it doesn’t taste like spring yet. California is knee deep is asparagus and peas and strawberries, and we’re knee deep in asparagus and peas and strawberries brought in from California. Give it one more month, and I’ll be making strawberry-rhubarb everything, but for right now it’s ginger mango.  This cake is best served a little warm with some whipped cream or whipped crème fraiche. Serves 10-12.

For the Topping

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Champagne mangos (or 1 regular mango) peeled and thinly sliced

For the Cake

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened slightly
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup dark molasses
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or use plain yogurt or kefir)
  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Make the Topping
Butter a 10 inch cake pan. A trick a sometimes use to make upside sown cakes easier to un-mold is to line the cake pan with a piece of parchment paper and then place the removable bottom from a same or smaller size tart pan over the parchment paper to hold it down. I then butter the tart bottom and layer the fruit etc. on top of it. 
Combine the sugar, butter, and salt in a small sauce pan and heat until melted and combined. Pour into the bottom of the cake pan and arrange the mango slices neatly on top of the topping. Set aside.
Make the Cake
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Combine the egg, molasses, honey, and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cinnamon in another bowl. Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, alternate adding wet and dry to the butter mixture. Be sure to scrape down the bowl and mix well after each addition. Pour the batter overtop of the mangos and bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its pan 15-30 minutes and then carefully invert onto a plate.