Since I've been taking part in the #readcookeat challenge, I find myself eagerly looking out for foodie mentions in the books I read and, as I have a passion for globe-cooking and trying out exotic cuisine, I was really looking forward to some great foodie references in my latest read, Deadly Deceit by Jean Harrod (click through to read my review), because it is set on the Caribbean islands of Turks & Caicos. There were a few references to dishes that I jotted down as I read :
p46 "They're conch shells. The islanders cook the conch's edible muscle in soups and stews. It's a local delicacy."
p100 "It's chicken, baked with tomatoes. One of my own recipes"
p129 Roger Pearson helped himself to another spoonful of coconut fish curry from the bowl in the centre of the table.
Well, there was no way I was eating giant sea snails, even if I could find somewhere to source them from (!), chicken and tomatoes didn't sound particularly inspiring and coconut fish curry sounded very similar to a Brazilian dish that I have already made, Moqueca de Peixe. I therefore decided to use the exotic setting as inspiration instead and go googling for Turks & Caicos Islands cuisine. One recipe that I came across was Banana Crunch Cake, which sounded promising. The original recipe needed ripe bananas but the ones in my fruit bowl were still more green than yellow, so I decided to try with an overripe mango instead. I tweaked the recipe quite a bit though, so do go through and look at the original. Tastewise it was lovely but it sunk when I took it out of the oven and the middle stayed soggy. I'd leave out the coconut water next time as it definitely didn't need the extra liquid.
Tropical crunch cake
juice and zest of a lime
pinch of salt
115g self-raising flour
1 ripe mango
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
(1/2 cup liquid - see below but with hindsight I would leave this out)
a handful of coconut chips
Cream together the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs, one at a time.
Mash the mango flesh. (You can see from the colour that it was well on its time, but it still tasted fine.)
Add the mango to the mixture, along with the salt, vanilla essence, lime juice and zest, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Add some coconut chips or dessicated coconut.
Mix in the flour.
The original recipe made me smile because it said to add 1/2 cup (well, 1 cup but I'd reduced all the quantities by half) of evaporated milk, pasteurised semi skimmed milk or whatever you have available. In other words, any liquid you want, so I used coconut water, to stick with the tropical theme and also because there was a carton in the fridge that needed using up. I think this was my downfall though because the cake batter was wet enough already.
I ended up with a smooth, runny cake mix.
Transfer to a greased loaf tin and cook for ... well, the original recipe said 70 minutes and I'd halved the quantities so I started keeping an eye on it after 40 minutes.
After an hour and a half, it was finally starting to look cooked and a knife stabbed in the middle came out pretty much clean (like when making banana bread).
However, as I put it on the side to cool, disaster struck. Within 5 minutes it had sunk in the middle and when I tipped it out, the outside was cooked but the inside was still molten. I put it back in the oven for 20 minutes more which firmed it up a bit but it still stayed soggy in the middle, so I'd definitely reduce the amount of liquid in the batter and increase the cooking time. Using dessicated coconut instead of coconut chips would help absorb some of the moisture too and I'd raise the oven temperature from 180° to 220°. (Hindsight is a wonderful thing !).
It may have looked a mess but it tasted nice, with a definite tropical flavour coming through from the coconut, lime and mango.
Linking up with the #readcookeat challenge over at Chez Maximka.
Also adding to #KitchenClearout linky because it used up an overripe mango and a carton of coconut water that was lurking in the fridge.