One of the most obvious perks of working as a food photographer is the bounty of delicious edibles left over after a shoot. From little nibbles of the “hero” dish to the vast number of extras that aren’t quite perfect enough to make the cut, there’s always something good to eat in this business, and rarely does one leave the set hungry.
Just the other day, a huge amount of dried fruits and nuts was dropped off at the office, to be used as background pieces and props. And when I say huge, I’m not kidding- There was enough to cover the entire kitchen table, and then some. A bit old and no longer at prime freshness, each individual bag was marked “DO NOT EAT” in bold sharpie, multiple times, in no uncertain terms.
Reluctant to toss anything out though, I covertly snuck in a few bites between shots- Just to test the waters, you see. Turns out that despite the warnings, all of these dried pears, cherries, and mangoes were perfectly fine, and still quite tasty! Easily talking my way into taking the whole bundle home with me after work, it was then a matter of what to do with so much dried fruit… Where to store it is still an issue, too!
Sad to say, mangoes, which made up the bulk of this haul, are my least favorite of any dried fruit selection, tough and leathery with mostly just an astringent bite in the way of flavor. Simmered in a flavorful liquid, however, they quickly turned into a pleasantly tart, summery treat. Pureeing that mixture, it quickly became obvious that it was destined to be baked into something sweet, so who was I to resist?
Blended with non-dairy white chocolate chips and topped with sweet segments of little clementines, this impromptu cake was a gratifying exercise in recycling ingredients. Those clementines were also on their last legs, becoming drier every day they sat in the fruit drawer of the fridge, begging to be eaten. Creating a cake with satisfying density and a ridiculously moist crumb, just a very small piece should be enough to sate your sweet tooth. I baked mine into cute little disposable loaf pans, making them delightful little gifts, but you could easily use a large 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, or muffin tins instead. Just increase the time to 1 – 1 1/2 hours for the large loaf, and start checking on the muffins after 20 minutes have elapsed.
Thrifty Mango Bread
6 Ounces Dried Mango Pieces
1 3/4 Cups Orange Juice
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Vegan White Chocolate Chips
3 – 4 Clementines, Peeled and Segmented
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease or line three 3 x 6 inch loaf pans.
Place the mango pieces and orange juice in a small sauce pan, and bring it up to a simmer over medium-low heat. Let it bubble away gently for 15 – 20 minutes, until the mango is significantly softened and dehydrated. Remove the pot from the heat, and cool before moving the mixture into a food processor or blender. Puree thoroughly until completely smooth.
Move the puree into a large bowl, and stir in the sugar, oil, and vanilla until smooth. Separately, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and white chocolate chips. Slowly incorporate the dry goods into the wet, and stir just enough to combine. Distribute the batter between your prepared pans, and top with the clementine segments. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Let cool completely before slicing.