Four years ago, when I traveled solo through Paris for three weeks, one of my missions was to taste tarte tatin.
I can’t remember what fueled my urgency to taste the upside-down French version of apple pie, but it propelled me through restaurant after restaurant until, one afternoon, after a full morning of museum-wandering, I found myself at a small table in a corner restaurant overlooking the Seine for lunch.
Finally, I found tarte tatin on the menu. I wrote in my journal while making my way through a so-so salade nicoise and I remember a kind-looking mother with a young child tapping me and making some kind of conversation. Most everything is a blur except for the moment the waiter placed the glistening slice of tarte tatin on the table. For a girl who despised apple pie as a child for the mushy texture of semi-cooked apples, diving into the soft, deeply caramelized apples nestled into a thick round of buttery crust was like a big fat sigh of there you are. I see the hype now.
Since then, I’ve been utterly taken by any dish that involves caramelized fruit topped with a crust and baked until hot and bubbling and beautiful.
Though I’d relegated most of my spices and baking recipes to a long hibernation as spring began to set in on Houston, a brief cold spell brought a little cool relief long enough to turn my oven on and bring a recent fixation to life. Honestly? This cake was born thanks to bringing an old issue of Cooking Light to the gym (wherein I fixated on this chai banana bread), an excess of ripe mangoes, and this Kitchn article that assured me that a gamble of combining the two would be a near-certain success.
And it pretty much was, if you consider ultra-moist spiced cake with a jewel-like spear of mango embedded in each slice to be a success. I’ve had some not-so-hot run-ins with flax eggs in the past so I’m generally wary of them, but flax actually works quite well as an egg substitute in this cake, particularly because the cake doesn’t need to rise very high as it’s mostly acting as a (really delicious, cakey) crust to the caramelized mango.
PS. You guys are excellent advice givers and I will either be in London or Paris by the time you read this–so feel free to leave more recommendations for things to do/see/eat in the comments! <333333
Upside-Down Mango Banana Cake
- 2 small mangoes peeled and sliced into long, flat slivers
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ¾ cups mashed ripe bananas about 1.5
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2.5 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons almond milk
- 2 tablespoons applesauce or additional mashed banana, milk, or yogurt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
- Scant ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon each: ground cardamom cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon each: ground ginger cloves, nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Toss the sliced mangoes in the brown sugar. In a 8 or 9-inch ovenproof skillet, add the coconut oil over medium heat. Once melted and hot, add the mango slices (laying them out in a decoration you’d want to see on top of a cake). Cook for about five minutes, or until mango starts to caramelize and brown (but not break down). Remove from heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, combine the banana, sugars, oil, milk, applesauce and vanilla and whisk together. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, flax seed, baking soda, salt and spices. Gently stir the dry into the wet ingredients until just combined.
- Pour batter over the mangoes in the skillet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until top is set and springs back under your finger. Let cool for a minute—and one minute only, or else it will stick!—before removing the cake from the pan. I did this by place a large plate over the top of the skillet, firmly grasping the handle with an oven mitt and inverting the pan so that the cake flopped out onto the plate, thankfully in one piece.