great British blog off

The Great British Blog Off: Fresh Mango Loaf

Hello, internet people! It is Week 2 of my Great British Blog Off Project and so far, I’ve lost no steam and no enthusiasm. I baked the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., a day when many people take the day off from cooking after the labors of preparing a feast. Andy, who went to the grocery this morning to rectify our egg miscalculations, said the grocery was essentially empty. Makes sense on this great day of leftovers.

But me? I woke up raring and ready to go with this second bake.

This week’s recipe: Fresh Mango Loaf Cake

The Prep

Much like last week, I spent Monday-Thursday incredibly eager to take on this bake. Combined with the holiday bringing a shorter workweek, I decided I may as well move the bake a day up from the usual Saturday to Friday.
I grabbed most of the necessary ingredients for the cake during our regular weekly shopping trip and realized only on Wednesday that we had used far too many eggs during the week. We’re a very random household when it comes to egg usage–sometimes a carton of 12 lasts us well over the week, while other times we need an 18 egger. This week apparently was an 18-egg week, since we were down to two eggs the night before Thanksgiving (thanks, egg wash for apple pie).
So, Andy graciously offered to stop by Giant Eagle on his way back from the hardware store to grab another carton so I’d have everything I needed for my bake. Other than that, prep was smooth sailing since I already have a loaf pan and that’s pretty much all that’s required for this one in the way of tools.
In spite of my excitement and preparation, I truly have no concept of what this loaf is going to taste like. I’ve had mango maybe once or twice in my life, and the idea of combining it with bananas, cranberries, coconut, and lime? Nonsense as far as my taste imagination is concerned.

The Bake

First up on the recipe docket was toasting the desiccated coconut–or, in my case, shredded coconut since that was all I could find. I’ll confess I am not the biggest coconut fan, so I was pretty dubious sprinkling the flakes on a baking sheet and throwing them into the preheated oven. To my surprise, they smelled delightfully fragrant when I pulled them out a few short minutes later, toasted and browned.
From there, it was time to cut up my mango. If I’ve learned anything from watching Great British Bake Off it’s that you don’t want to have fruit pieces that are too large, or else they’ll sink to the bottom. So, I carefully cut them into tiny squares that I hoped were approximately the 1-centimeter size recommended by the recipe (I have no mind for spatial reasoning in inches, let alone centimeters).
My mango somehow clocked in a few grams lighter than the recipe called for, which was a surprise since it had suggested usage for leftovers. My bananas, on the other hand, hit the 250g with only two, rather than the suggested three. Since I’d only bought the one mango, I decided to just carry on and see what happened.
Mashing bananas into a bowl felt comfortingly familiar, unlike toasting coconut and cutting up mango. I’ve made a few loaves of banana bread in my day, after all.
A recipe of many bowls, I ended up at one point surrounded by a bowl with mango and lime zest, a bowl of mashed bananas, a bowl of dry ingredients, and a bowl of eggs and oil beaten together.
The dry ingredients, which included the toasted coconuts and dried cranberries, smelled… interesting when all mixed in together. Normally at the stage where you mix in wet ingredients you start to get a good scent sense of what a recipe will taste like, or at least, that’s my prior experience with cakes and loaves. Even after tipping in the mangoes, banana, and eggs, I couldn’t conceive of what the finished product would be. In the bowl, it looked like banana bread mixed with a tropical fruitcake.
Into the loaf tin it went, destined for an hour or so in the oven.
Unlike last week’s lemon loaf, this one needed to cool completely before adding the (optional) icing. Because I didn’t have the foggiest what it would taste like, I felt incredibly impatient as it cooled first for 20 minutes in the tin, then for another hour or so on the wire rack.
Finally, it was time to sift together the powdered sugar and lime zest to make an exceptionally limey icing that I smoothed on top before adding the little flourish of dried mango pieces on top. At last, we could eat.
I think my mango wasn’t a prime specimen, or maybe I still just don’t know what it should taste like, because the flavor of the loaf is very light. There’s a nice sharpness from the lime and a good sweetness to the fruitcake-like loaf, but I’m not sure if mine iteration exactly screams mango. Or maybe mango just isn’t that pronounced in general?
In all, I enjoyed the bake and the slice, but I don’t think this one will be going into my heavy rotation. For one, it felt a bit incongruous putting together tropical ingredients in the middle of winter, but for another, I’m still just not sold on mango as a concept.
Since the loaf is best eaten within the first day or so of baking, I dropped a few slices off on a friend’s porch for us to enjoy later while we watch the series final of Great British Bake off later today. She and her partner are a bit more adventurous than I am when it comes to flavor, and I have hopes they’ll enjoy this one even more than I did. Plus, one of the joys of baking is getting to share, which is a little harder to come by these days.
That’s bake number two in the books! Next week, I get to pull out my newly acquired springform pans and make the first two-tiered cake of the Great British Blog Off adventure, featuring our old friend… more lemons!
Like, seriously, a lot of lemons.

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