Dexter Mcgowan - Tropical II
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Tropical Oatmeal-Mango Cake




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~ Erma Bombeck

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A Tropical Cake, Rich and Moist
The New York Times, May 15, 2002
By Mark Militello

Mark Militello is the chef and owner of Mark's Las Olas in Fort
Lauderdale, Fla. This column was written with Florence Fabricant.

"I am not a chocolate lover, and carefully executed fancy individual desserts are not for me. Give me a big piece of homey cake, something like pound cake, and
I'm happy.
This cake is a good example. When I bake it at home I use a large springform pan. But at Las Olas, my pastry chef, Anthony Hunt, prefers to spoon the batter into individual dome molds, garnish the plate with mangos, strawberries and kiwi, and top it with a tuile of dried mango and raspberries. It may be prettier that way, but home cooks will be much happier using the springform.
When I first started out with my own restaurant, I did everything myself, from baking breads to pastry. In those days, there was no way to fuss with a little individual dessert. So I got in the habit of doing larger cakes.
And after 20 years, I still like them.
The nice thing about this cake is that it's very moist, so it keeps for days. When you taste it, your first impression will be of the spices in it, and the nuts and coconut in the topping, all of which give it a very Caribbean personality. You almost don't realize that it's made with oatmeal and mango.
It has a richness that will make you think it's a butter cake, and most people are surprised to find out that the only butter is in the topping; there's no butter or oil in the batter.
It's important to use old-fashioned rolled oats, not the instant kind, and you'll get a more interesting flavor if you toast them first.
Take time beating the eggs and sugar so that the batter falls back in a flat ribbon when the beater is lifted. The mango sort of disappears into the texture of the cake but it cuts the sweetness of the brown sugar. Some slices of mango or scoops of mango sorbet on the side would be delicious and would bring out the flavor.
Many of my desserts use tropical fruits. My tarte Tatin is made with pineapple that Anthony caramelizes with lots of fresh ginger. I have also adapted a pretty common home recipe for pudding cake, except that I use passion fruit instead of the more usual lemon. My macadamia-banana tart, which has a filling similar to pecan pie, is best when it's made in a big tart pan, with a roughly crumpled phyllo crust.
But in the restaurant, you'll see all these desserts baked in individual pans and molds, and garnished with ice creams, sorbets, fruit and twirls and tracings of sauce. I'm constantly fighting with Anthony because he wants to show off with these high-style desserts. I usually lose."

Tropical Oatmeal-Mango Cake

Time: 1 1/2 hours
Yield: 8 servings.

9 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely diced mango
 2/3 cup chopped pecans
 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut.

1. Use about  1/2 tablespoon butter to grease a 10- to 11-inch springform pan. Dust with 2 tablespoons sugar. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place oats in dry skillet, and toast until light brown. Transfer to bowl, and add 1 1/4 cup hot water. Set aside. Sift flour with cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.
3. Mix 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup brown sugar in bowl of electric mixer. Beat in eggs until smooth and mixture falls back in a ribbon when beater is lifted. Fold in vanilla, softened oats and mango. Fold in flour mixture.
4. Transfer batter to pan, place in oven and bake for 45 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean and surface is lightly browned. Remove from oven. Turn on broiler.
5. Mix pecans with remaining butter and remaining brown sugar. Stir in cream, and fold in coconut. Gently spread this mixture on top of cake.
6. Place cake under broiler, and broil until surface is bubbly and lightly browned. Watch carefully so topping does not burn. Transfer cake to rack, and allow to cool before removing sides of pan.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company | Permissions | Privacy Policy

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