I don't think there's a fruit in the world that can compare, even distantly, with the luscious mango.
I am not talking about the sorry, hard, pale-yellow approximation available here in supermarkets. What I mean is the radiantly golden, deliciously juicy mango that makes an appearance in Indian markets at the beginning of summer.
There really is nothing like an Indian mango, especially the variety called the Alphonso. The bright orange flesh of that fruit, its deeply velvety texture, its sinfully decadent richness of taste is to be eaten to be believed.
This summer, when we traveled to India despite all our worries about the sweltering May heat, the fact that we could gorge on the Alphonso until we could almost eat no more-- almost, but not quite--was enough to make the nasty weather bearable.
Coming to today's recipe, I love making fruit (or veggie) breads, but last Saturday I didn't have any bananas, carrots or pumpkin pulp on hand. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and when I saw in the pantry a tin of mango pulp that I'd picked up on my last visit to the Indian store, I had a delicious thought.
Now let me make this clear: mango pulp, even the variety that claims to be made from Alphonso, is not all that great. It is too sweet with added sugar and always tastes a little tinny. Still, it comes in handy for mango lassis and shakes, and being a bit of a mango freak, I usually keep one or two tins around.
To make a long story short, I decided to use the mango pulp to make a mango bread. I worked from my pumpkin bread recipe, modifying it as I went along. Since the pulp was much thinner than the canned pumpkin puree one would use for a pumpkin bread, and I wanted to use more of it to get an intense mango flavor, I used a little more flour, cut down on the sugar and water, and doubled the amount of pulp.
The resulting bread was surprisingly delicious, although let me be the first to admit that fresh mango puree would make it much, much better (try it, you lucky souls who live in India). The bright orange of the baked bread was also gorgeous. The two cups of mango puree gave the bread just the right mango-ey punch.
To go with my favorite fruit, I used cardamom, my favorite spice. These two are wonderful flavors both on their own and married to each other.
So here it is, a very special recipe for a very special bread. This one goes to Sweet Vegan!, the vegan food event I am hosting through Oct. 31.
Luscious, Delicious Mango Bread
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 level tsp powdered cardamom seeds
1/4 tsp salt
In a bowl, beat together until well mixed:
4 tbsp canola or other flavorless vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
Add 2 tbsp flax seed powder and beat in.
Add 2 cups mango pulp and beat until well mixed.
Add the flour mixture and mix well.
You can add about 1/2 cup of slivered almonds to this, although I didn't because I didn't have any on hand.
Pour the batter into a standard 9X5 inch greased loaf pan and bake in a 350-degree oven around 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, or with a few crumbs stuck to it. Please note that because no two ovens are the same, even at the same temperature, the bread might take more or less time to bake in your oven. Whatever you do, don't skip the toothpick check!
Cool on a rack before unmolding and cutting into slices.
Update: The second time I tried this bread, I reduced the sugar to 3/4 cup. The result was just as good, so in the interests of health I am going to update the amount in the recipe above from 1 cup to 3/4.