Back in my childhood years there were two undeniable facts that were present in all family celebrations. One was my absolute dislike of birthdays. I can remember being in the kitchen surrounded by people singing happily a birthday song while I, strange as I was, covered my ears with both hands. There was even one time in which I hid underneath the kitchen table hoping that all that crazy people stopped their “chant”. Yes, I was a weird little one.
It is funny how some situations in our childhood establish a pattern in our heads and it stays there forever. To this day (and I turnt 40 in february) I am totally unable to sing ” Happy Birthday” to anyone except to my son. For the rest of human kind I pretend to sing moving my lips while others sing along cheerfully. Yep….weird.
The other all time classic in family celebrations was my mom’s strawberry cake.
She has never had any interest in baking, and cooking for her has always been somewhat a chore she did without much amusement. Maybe being married to a Chef had something to do with it. Still that strawberry cake was “some kind of wonderful”.
She would buy the sponge already baked, from a german brand at a local store. The following task was the filling and decoration of it, a perfect choreography that she had mastered over the years.
First it was time for the strawberries. She would wash them and cut them evenly setting them aside. Then she would place the different layers on the counter and cover each one with strawberry jam. As years passed she changed it to raspberry because as she said, it would cut the sweetness a bit.
With the cake built and the layers one over the other it was time for placing the strawberries on top. That was my favourite part! She would prepare strawberry jelly and let it sit in the fridge enough time so it was not too hard not too runny. It was sometimes my task to check the jelly which I would do with a spoon … which ended up in my mouth half of those times. What a precious moment!
The final step was placing the strawberries on top over a jam layer and cover them with the jelly. The sides of the cake were usually hidden with sliced or grained almonds.
How could that be possible? How could something be so delighfully delicious? Simple, no baking, no fuss. Just strawberries, jam and jelly….HEAVEN.
To my mom, the strongest and most caring woman I have and will ever know, this recipe “revisited”.
Mango and chocolate Cake
125 g yogurt (plain or pineapple)
125 g olive oil
250 g sugar
100 g flour
30 g cocoa (bitter kind)
1 table spoon of baking powder
1 pinch of salt
Mix all the ingredients with an electric whisk or mixer until well combined.
Grease and flour a baking pan of aprox. 20-22 centimetres and fill with the sponge preparation. Bake in a heated oven at 180°C for 45 minutes or until fully baked.
Let it cool and cut in two or three layers lengthwise. This would depend on how much your sponge has raised.
Peel and slice a big mango (aprox 800-1000g) in thin slices and set the fruit aside covered with the juice of half a lemon for decorating the top layer.
1 cup of water
1 mango stone
50 g mango
1 cup of sugar
The juice of half lemon
Place in a tall saucepan all the ingredients bringing it to a boil. Maintain the temperature until the water has been reduced in half. Take out the stone and scrub the mango meat around it with a spoon and add it to the syrup.
Let it cool for 10 minutes before blending it with an electric blender.
Place one layer of the sponge and brush it with the syrup evenly. You might want to use a silicon brush as it will be easier to clean afterwards. Place some slices of mango on the layer but just about 6-8 slices, repeat the procedure with the next layer.
Prepare the top layer by brushing it with the syrup and cover it all with the remaining mango. Brush lighly with the syrup just to add some shine to the fruit.
Refrigerate for half an hour.
Thanks for reading 🙂