Finally, my favorite time of the year has arrived! It's that time of year when I get to tango with my mangoes!

Bill Pesch

HOME COOK: Bill Pesch is pictured in his kitchen, which he says sometimes "resembles a disaster area." Photo courtesy of Bill Pesch

Well, to be more precise, for this particular recipe for Chunky Fresh Mango Cake, I got to tango with my friend Fumiko Harada's mangoes.

There are two large mango trees in my yard. For weeks I've been checking them daily, hoping and praying they'd soon be dropping ripened fruit. I was dying to perform culinary surgery to transform them from heavenly softening globes of orange flesh into diabolically delectable desserts. To my great frustration, only occasionally would I find a fledgling fruit, barely the size of a walnut, lying on the ground. For baking purposes, they were worthless. I was starting to get very frustrated with Mother Nature and I kept offering silent prayers for culinary salvation!

Then suddenly one Saturday, my prayers were answered – but not in the manner I had anticipated. I woke up early, anxious to check for mangoes before the chickens beat me to any ripened fruit. During the day, it's not unusual to see anywhere between 20 and 40 chickens criss-crossing my property, scrounging for anything edible. During mango season, chickens are the scourge of the earth! They have no respect for my ownership rights to the mangos that fall in my yard! Every year they eat about 60% of my mango crop.

With a sense of urgency, I unlocked my front door and turned the doorknob. As the door swung open, I heard a thump. Suspended from the outside doorknob was a large plastic bag full of ripe mangoes! There was no note. Where did this manna from heaven come from, I wondered? At that moment, my cellphone pinged with a WhatsApp message. My good friend, Fumiko Harada, informed me that on her way to Ipan she had left the bag at my front door. She knew that I was desperate for the ripe fruit and her tree was already producing. She also loves desserts, but has no oven. As a frequent Sunday dinner guest at our house, she undoubtedly hoped I'd use the fruit to make one of her favorite delicacies, Chunky Fresh Mango Cake. I was only too happy to make her dream come true!

So, the next day I peeled and chopped all the mangoes. As Guam bakers know, this is a labor of love. It can be a tedious, time-consuming task, but blissful visions of the end product motivate us to keep on chopping!

I found this recipe a couple years ago on the Taste of Home website. The original recipe was for a 6" pie pan. This was much too small for my family and friends, so I've adapted the recipe for 13" x 9" baking pan.* So bakers, get ready ... on your marks, get set, go tango with your mangoes!

Week 28 – Chunky Fresh Mango Cake

Ingredients

For the cake

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1 cup canola oil

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional – I leave it out)

2 1/2 cups chopped, peeled mangoes

3/4 cup chopped pecans

For the topping (optional)

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Whipped cream and/or ice cream for topping (optional)

Steps

1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 12" x 9" baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Peel and chop the mangoes and place them in a small bowl.

3. In a large bowl, beat the white and brown sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract until well-blended.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

5. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the sugar/egg mixture and mix well.

6. Fold in the mangoes and pecans.

7. Pour the mixture into the greased baking pan.

8. Whisk the 1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar ant 3/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle it over the top of the batter.

9. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

6-inch recipe

*If you want to bake the original recipe for the 6" round baking pan, the ingredients are:

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 egg

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cup chopped peeled mangoes

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Follow the directions as given above, except bake for 30 minutes.

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