At the 2021 Minnesota State Fair baking competition, no one could have predicted how tasty this Coconut Curry Mango Cake was going to be, including me. With surprising ingredients and a colorful exterior, the cake stood out for its perfectly balanced flavors, rich taste, and tender yet firm texture.
Recipe credit goes to Maggie MacIntosh. She used a Cooks Illustrated coconut cake recipe as a starting point and began experimenting.
Garam masala, turmeric, mango nectar, and mango crystals are among the unique ingredients Maggie features in this award winning cake. Between that creativity, how well she combined all the ingredient amounts, and how perfectly she baked the cakes, this Coconut Curry Mango Cake really stood out. Plus Maggie nailed it with the coconut aroma, in both the cake itself and the frosting. The mango filling was a colorful element that added yet another dimension to the cake. Well done!
Maggie won 1st place in our Blue Ribbon Best Coconut Cake Contest with this cake. She wins $100 in King Arthur Baking Company gift cards. Here’s a shot of Maggie and her daughter, celebrating her win and all the fun the fair has to offer. Congratulations Maggie!
If you’re curious about the winner selection process, here’s the judging criteria.
- Unique, innovative, creative recipe……………………………………………25%
- Appearance, color, presentation………………………………………………..25%
- Texture, internal appearance…………………………………………………….25%
- Flavor, aroma…………………………………………………………………………. 25%
Coconut Curry Mango Cake – Step by Step
Want to re-create the magic of Maggie’s coconut curry cake and its mango filling? We walk you through it with a detailed overview, including photos.
Here’s everything that goes into the batter, from the cake flour and spices, to butter, sugar, and eggs.
You starting with whipping the egg and egg whites before adding cream of coconut, water, and extracts.
Next, you mix the dry ingredients: cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, garam masala, and turmeric.
Then you mix in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Once you slowly combine everything together……you divide the batter between your prepped 8-inch pans. It makes a nice thick batter. Spread it around.
While those bake and cool, get your filling ingredients together. Whip that up.
Do the same with your buttercream frosting.
Whip it good. It should form stiff peaks. Here’s a shot when it’s reaching perfection.
Last, you slice each cake in half to get 4 equal layers, then assemble everything together. A great tip from Maggie was to pipe the frosting on the edge of each layer to help hold in the filling.
We didn’t get shots of this, but applying a crumb coat–thinly frosting top and sides of cake before fully frosting the cake–prevents a messy look.
To finish, sprinkle toasted coconut on top and press into sides of cake. This will give the cake a classic look, like this.
Or you can opt to dye the toasted coconut in one or more colors and decorate in circular patterns on top (as winner did).
These resemble the colors Maggie used: yellow, orange, and red.
And this is her stencil she used decorating the top of her cake.
Feel free to reach out to us direct if you want help re-creating the multi-color decor Maggie used. We have additional notes from our test runs and Maggie we can share.
If you love this cake’s concept but want a faster, easier version of the recipe, stay tuned. We are working on a sheet cake version of this magical Coconut Curry Mango Cake we will share later.
In the meantime though, this cake makes a fun fall baking experience. Fun fact: some of our tasters thought the curry/turmeric combo was a tastier, gingery pumpkin spice. Give it a try and see what you taste.
Coconut Curry Mango Cake
1 large egg
5 large egg whites
3/4 cup cream of coconut
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons garam masala (Penzey’s spice preferred)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
3 3/4 tablespoons tapioca flour or cornstarch
3 cups mango nectar, divided
1 teaspoon mango crystals (from Northern Brewer)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Optional: yellow food color
Frosting & Decor
4 large egg whites (kept chilled)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups unsalted butter, softened, each stick cut into six pieces
1/4 cup cream of coconut
1 teaspoon coconut extract
Optional: yellow, orange, red food colors
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, with oven rack set to lower middle position. Grease, line and flour two 8-inch cake pans. In bowl, beat egg and egg whites, then combine with cream of coconut, water, coconut extract, and vanilla extract; set aside. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, garam masala, and turmeric in bowl of stand mixer on low speed to combine. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 2-3 minutes. Add – with mixer still running – 1 cup egg white mixture, and increase speed to medium-high. Beat until fluffy, about 45 seconds. Add remaining liquid in a slow, steady stream. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of bowl. Beat at medium-high speed another 15 seconds. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Bake 40-45 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes on rack, then remove from pans. Finish cooling on rack. Keep oven on. Toast shredded coconut 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned.
In saucepan, whisk tapioca and mango crystals with 1/4 cup mango nectar to make smooth paste. Add remaining mango nectar and teaspoon salt, and stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat 3-5 minutes, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice and yellow food color; let cool.
In heatproof bowl, mix egg whites, sugar and salt. Place over saucepan of simmering water. Continuously whisk until mixture reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer mixture to bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until glossy and temperature is about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat in butter, 1 piece at a time. Add cream of coconut, extract and food color. Completed frosting needs to be between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust temperature and repeat if needed.
Slice each cake in half horizontally to form 4 layers total. Place bottom layer on cake board; pipe thick frosting border around outside edge of top of layer. Fill area inside border with mango filling; top with second layer. Repeat with third and final layer, while ensuring top and sides are level. Apply a crumb coat, thinly frosting top and sides of cake. Spread remaining frosting over entire cake. To finish, sprinkle toasted coconut on top and press into sides of cake. Optional: dye toasted coconut in multiple colors (yellow, orange, red) and decorate in circular patterns on top (as the cake creator/contest winner did).