Mango Pudding

‘Please tell me you have cake.’

You do have to pity a bewildered spouse. There he is, gently knocking on the bedroom door to check on you at 5.15 pm, after you’ve retired for an hour with another scratching, mean-cat of a headache and that seeping I’m tired from growing a human malaise.

A weak request from beneath a duvet for a cup of tea- that would be standard. Perhaps a meek mewl of ‘do we really have to go out tonight?’ ( being knocked up saddles even the most appealing social engagement with the lumpen ballast of putting on proper make up so you look half like your old self  in addition to the  sterling burden of making chatty conversation and sipping water while others nurse whiskeys and pints).

But the cake thing, the cake thing is new. And I meant it. I was consumed by hanger- the kind of hunger that manifests itself in a pale pink furze of fury- and that anger had swiftly fixated itself on cake as the solution. I honestly couldn’t imagine why he would be coming near me if he wasn’t bearing cake. Preferably with a small fork and a piece of paper towel to catch any crumbs lest they spill into the bed.. I wasn’t going to be picky about it. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting would be best, followed by a dense, solemn slice of apple flecked lumberjack.  But I would have taken a wedge of Victoria Sponge. Even a blueberry muffin in a pinch.

He only said one sentence, before slowly backing out of the room. ‘I think it’s a girl’.

This is the week in which the stowaway has unfurled itself to the dimension of a large Kensington Pride mango. It’s also  the last one in which we live in the dark- or the land of neutral pastels.  There was never a question that we’d wait to find out. We’re planners. We like to prepare. We’re the kind of people who will organise a surprise party, but then give each other the heads up the week before- just so the other can get their minds around it. And if there’s a present under the tree come Christmas, you can bet your nelly I’ll be tempted to peel back the paper for a peek.

So this time next week you will have revealed your bits and pieces to us. I’ve joked that at the end of the day all I’m really hoping for is a specific set of sex organs – though I hear there are some great support programs and surgical options available these days.

It looms in the calendar as a strange circled date. From the beginning, I was convinced you were a boy. When you’re not being referred to as ‘the stowaway’, I jokingly refer to you as ‘Sven’- the good luck charm who was gifted to us somewhere in far north Sweden (too much information? Possibly). My mother was similarly adamant of your blue hue from the first day she found out she was going to be a grandmother again. My step mother has recently joined this chorus. And just last week my yoga teacher took one sideways look at me and said ‘when did you find out it’s a boy?’

The prospect of bringing forth a small male hungry one is something that intimidates and thrills me in equal measure. When I shut my eyes all visions morph into a minute version of his dad; blonde with green eyes, generous with affection and easily placated with steady streams of both activity and food. There is nothing I love more than hearing stories of him as a small child, a quietly content thing who was kept busy for hours moving piles of bricks purposely from one side of the yard to another. Such simple pleasures.

Yet when I ask him what he sees, he says the opposite,  He’s not a man who needs a son to fulfil him (though I’m sure if it was, he’d be as proud as punch). He has visions of a fluffy faced, cheeky brown haired girl, who likes nothing more than nestling down with books and reaching up on tippy toes to help mix the containers of home made muesli. He’s basically parroting my baby photos right back at me.

And so here we are.

The Chinese calendar says girl. The ring on a piece of hair just isn’t sure (and neither is the internet- it seems solidly split on which direction equals which gender). As for the physicalities, at this stage I still have a waist when you look from the back (a touch wider, but it’s mostly all out front). My skin is rubbish and I’ve been sick enough (old wives will tell you that a girl will rob you of your looks). And then there’s the cake. A mad, crazy craving for sweets which the internet says means it’s matching X’s all the way.

The obvious choice of what to make this week would be a mango cake- possibly with fat flakes of coconut and festooned with cream cheese frosting. But instead, I’ve reverted to one of The Hungry One’s favourite things.

Every single time we go to Dim Sum/Yum Cha, the meal is not complete without mango pudding. It comes in petite portions- sometimes in curved bowls, sometimes turned out of novelty jello moulds. It’s a glowing gender-neutral orange/yellow. It’s the colour of sunbeam decals on nursery walls of those much better at living with mystery.

In good examples of mango pudding the texture is somewhere between a panna cotta, a flummery and a jelly. If you’re lucky it’s studded with small cubes of fresh mango. It should be creamy, but still bright with the light acidity of fresh mango. It should hold itself up on a spoon.

It’s an excellent thing to eat after an Asian supper with a bit of sweetened evaporated milk puddling over the top. It’s also delightful for brunch, with a large bowl of tropical fruit salad. And it goes down just fine at 5.15 pm, when your husband comes into wake you and the bump and you discover that there is no cake to hand.

Nb, we’re taking bets. Please feel free to take a punt on whether it’s pink or blue below.

Mango Pudding

Serves 2-3

(Makes 2 large portions, or 3 smaller ones)

Nb, like papaya and kiwi mango has an enzyme which is aggressive towards gelatine. For best results bring the mango puree to a bubbling simmer for a few minutes and stir in the sugar, allowing it to completely dissolve, before adding the softened gelatine. This should help things set. Make this 4-6 hours before serving.


1/2 cup evaporated milk, or pouring cream
2 medium- large mangoes
3 tbsp caster sugar
2 1/2 sheets of gelatine (weighing 5 grams)
1 cup of cold water, for soaking gelatine

Here’s how we roll

1) Take the flesh from one and a half ripe mangoes and puree it with a stick blender (nb, for the easiest way to peel a mango, see here). You want to end up with 1 1/4 cups of mango puree in total. Dice the remaining half a mango and set aside.

2) Place the mango puree and the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, so the sugar dissolves and the mango bubbles away for 2 minutes.  Taste the mix. It should be quite sweet- though that will depend on how ripe your mangoes were. Keep in mind that the sweetness will fade once it is chilled. If you think it could do with a little more sugar, add some.

3) Place the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes, until they soften and become suspiciously gloopy. Squeeze them out.

4) Add the evaporated milk/cream and gelatine leaves to the warm mango puree. Stir to combine, until the gelatine has dissolved.

5) Place half the diced mango in the bottom of each serving bowl.

6) Pour the liquid pudding mixture over the top. Place in the fridge to set for 4-6 hours.

7) Serve with a dribbling of evaporated milk, condensed milk or cream.


Forty Weeks of Feasting

Each week mad websites and baby books will tell you how big your baby now is in comparison to a seed, fruit or vegetable. It starts as a poppy seed and goes from there. To make this process a little more palatable, join me as I bake my way through. Here’s the journey so far.

Week 18 Sweet Potato, Red Onion and Feta Pie. Recipe here
Week 17 Red Pepper, Chicken, Onion and Date Tagine. Recipe here.
Week 16 Avocado Mint Salsa with Pea and Mozzarella Quesadillas. Recipe here.
Week 15 Orange, Polenta and Rosemary Cake. Recipe here.
Wk 14 Lemon Creme Fraiche and Parmesan Pasta. Recipe here


Wk 13 Clementine/Mandarin Curd. Recipe here.
Wk 12 Plum and tomato tartines. Recipe here
Wk 11 Sprout and mushroom gratin (in which we come out of the closet). Recipe here
Wk 10 Date tart. Recipe here
Wk 9 Roasted grapes with baby chickens. Recipe here.
Wk 8 Raspberries and elderflower spritz. Recipe here.
Wk 7 Blueberry pancakes. Recipe here
Wk 6 Lentil and ginger soup. Recipe here
Wk 5 Sesame Miso Crisps. Recipe here
Wk 4 Poppy seed scrolled loaf. Recipe here.
  1. I love how you’re doing the food recipes based on how big your baby is–too cute! The gender curiosity reminds me, a friend of mine’s sister is pregnant and it is too early to tell the gender, but her midwife says that she can often tell (and she hasn’t been wrong yet in 20 years of her profession) by heartbeat. Girls have quicker heartbeats, boys have slower ones. While it’s not foolproof, it’s often correct. Who knows, maybe there’s something to it?

  2. charlie aarons on 15 March 2013

    I love your blog what a great legacy for the stowaway. Whichever variety of baby you get, let’s hope he/she doesn’t turn out to be a fussy eater!

  3. When I had a girl, people were saying my tummy looked like a boy-tummy. I never had nausea or bad skin with either gender. The ring said I would have a boy and two girls, I ended up having a girl and then a boy. Who knows? Whatever it is, it will be one of the most exciting moments of your life when you find out! So excited for you.

  4. I think it’ll be blue flavoured. And gorgeous!!

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