Towering Coconut Mango Cake

6-Layer Coconut Mango Cake

It’s been a longer week than I care to think about with life’s semi-usual highs and lows and in this case, I’d say they were one in the same.  Dealing with bronchitis has kept me out of the kitchen and away from food, so I’ve gotten a break of sorts.  Some break.  But it has allowed me to stay put and finally move my blog to where you’re reading right now.  After much trial and error I was finally able to export the files at my old TypePad site, have them split, then imported here.

I’m nearly almost sort of maybe possibly feeling a bit techish over this.  But only a smidgen.

Each time I do something like this I learn so much:  more about technology, and far more about what my patience can tolerate.  Not once did I throw anything.

So I think cake is in order, don’t you?  A sky high cake layered with creamy tropical flavor and an incredibly moist crumb all slathered in whipped cream and sprinkled with coconut.   But before we get to the cake, can I ask a favor?  Please look to the right sidebar and sign up for a feed.  You can choose to receive my food talk either by reader or email which allows you to enjoy it when it suits you best.

Mmm…cake.  If you’ve been searching for a dessert recipe for a special occasion this Spring, this would be it.

This is a six-layer cake inspired by pastry chef Cynthia Wong’s beauty featured in Food & Wine’s “Last Bite.

Towering Coconut Mango Cake Recipe

Cake Ingredients

4-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2-1/4 c. sugar
1 T plus 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 c. unsweetened reduced fat coconut milk
3/4 c. water
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 egg whites at room temperature

Curd Ingredients

3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 c. “Hero” mango nectar
4 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean—split, seeds scraped
1/2 c. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

Topping Ingredients

1 c. sweetened coconut
2 c. heavy cream, chilled
2-1/2 T sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla


  1. Make the curd filling first: In a medium saucepan, whisk sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in mango nectar, egg yolks, and vanilla seeds cooking over moderate heat and stirring constantly until thickened — about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, 1 T at a time until each is incorporated.  Scrape filling into a glass bowl, press sheet of plastic on surface and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
  2. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350° F positioning two racks in the center of the oven.   Line bottom of three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and very lightly coat all with olive oil.
  3. Using the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low. Mix in butter, coconut milk, water and vanilla until combined. Scrape down bowl, then beat at high speed until very smooth — about 2 minutes.
  4. Pour batter into another bowl to reserve and thoroughly wash the mixer bowl, drying well.
  5. Now beat the egg whites until soft peaks form making sure not to over beat. Fold half of egg whites carefully into batter until incorporated, then fold in remaining whites until no white remains. Divide batter evenly among cake pans making sure to level surface. Bake about 40 minutes or until wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on racks about 15 minutes, then invert back onto rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours.
  6. To assemble the cake: Use a long serrated knife to cut each cake in half horizontally creating 6 layers. Set one layer on cake plate cut side up. Spread with 6 T curd filling. Repeat with the remaining cake layers and filling, ending with a layer of cake, uncut side up. Using an offset spatula, smooth any curd seeping from between layers and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  7. To make the topping: Whip the chilled heavy cream until soft peaks begin to form, then add the vanilla and sprinkle in the sugar.  Continue mixing briefly until beginning to firm.  Spread on the cake and sprinkle coconut over the top.  Chill until serving.

Cake Batter

Mango Curd Filling

Layers Assembled

6-Layer Coconut Mango Cake

Recipe Notes:

  • It’s always interesting when you’ve been married for twenty years and counting and you didn’t know something about your husband.  Like the evening he first tasted this cake.  Savoring yet another of several bites into his slice, he mentions, “This cake is really, really good, and I don’t like cake.”  Huh?  He doesn’t like cake?  Go figure.  It’s not like I’ve been whipping up cakes all my life, but goodness.  I knew he didn’t like mayonnaise, so I guess the positive side of this is that at least there’s no mayo in this recipe, right?
  • Want to hear something ridiculous?  I only have 2 8-inch taller cake pans, but have 2 very shallow 8-inch cake pans.  So I figured I’d be just fine by splitting the batter between the four pans.  Thinking I was beyond smart (which is true on most days…) I thought I’d split the 2 larger layers to make 4 smaller ones, then leave the 2 smaller layers in tact.  Right.  But I didn’t factor in that the batter needed to be divided into THIRDS instead of fourths.  Yes, um, I clearly wasn’t thinking.  So the 2 smaller layers were quite nice, and the w larger layers were no so much.  What I should have done was pour 1/3 of the batter into each of the 2 deep pans, then SPLIT the last third of the batter between the 2 shallow pans.  Still can’t remember what I was thinking about.  Maybe the involved dinner party I was getting ready for?  That’s usually what happens.
  • But wait — there’s more!  Once the layers were sufficiently cooled, I began my cutting.  I’d decided to cut the larger layers and leave the others, ending up with the expected six layers.  Except I wasn’t paying attention again and cut through THREE layers before I realized it.  I now had six layers for my cake, and a whole layer left, untouched.  I couldn’t make a 7- or 8-layer cake because I wouldn’t have enough curd.  Yes, the “6 T of curd filling on the layers” cuts it right now to perfect and you’ll be scraping the bowl on that last layer so be careful.
  • Yes, I have an extra layer in the freezer just waiting for something creative on my horizon.
  • On to the coconut.  I truly don’t love sweetened coconut, so I bought a coconut, punched holes in the eyes and drained the liquid (which I saved and is now in the freezer along with that layer…)  I cracked and peeled the hard shell from the coconut meat and then using my veggie peeler, made long shavings.  I spread them onto a parchment lined baking sheet and toasted them.  They were lovely!  But they tasted awful.  In fact, the coconut didn’t taste like a coconut normally does, so I’m thinking it may have been bad.  I love fresh coconut and always have, so I know what it’s supposed to taste like.  This was sort of musty tasting and almost soaplike.  There was no way I was putting that on my cake.  Oh well.
  • But the cake is quite lovely even after all of my blunders.  The moral to this story is to 1) pay closer attention when altering a recipe; and 2) plan ahead more effectively when putting on a dinner party.  I truly do plan thoroughly — almost obsessively — but I usually want to do too much.
  • I used Hero nectar, but there are others.  Honestly, this cake could be made with any curd you enjoy.  It’s truly lovely.
  • I ended up with low-fat unsweetened coconut milk.  That’s all I could find, and I’m wondering if more fat would have changed the cake at all.
  • The coconut flavor is not pronounced and neither is the mango.  They sort of work well together.  The cake isn’t cloyingly sweet which make it perfect for me.
  • It keeps extremely well in the refrigerator, so could be assembled a day ahead and well wrapped without the topping.  Topping can be ready to go and spread on a couple of hours before serving.
  • A printable version of the recipe is available here.
Cake Slice
Enjoy leftovers for breakfast the next day.