For NDR and AL, for really bringing the force into my home.
Growing up I have distinct memories of Brother #1 and his complete Star Wars MANIA. We had an AT-AT at home, and I think at one point several action figures that we would play with. Brother #2 would actively watch all the movies and just loved all the action. He talked like Yoda, used Star Wars philosophies to help him through the day, and when he couldn't win at something fairly, resorted to Jedi mind tricks to get his way. Even with all that Star Wars love under the same roof as I, Star Wars passed me by.
Even when the prequel (Is that what we call them?) came out when I was newly married, I watched it because I thought I was supposed to watch it, but I didn't find the story all that compelling and all that crazy shooting with the weird looking outer space creatures just didn't appeal to my fancy. I watched the first of that new trilogy and didn't bother with the second or the third. And interestingly enough, Husband is also not into Star Wars either. Star Wars it seemed wouldn't be in our gene code for Children.
It didn't shock us much when Daughters were not into Star Wars. After all, how many young girls do you see wielding light sabers? I know a few but none are Daughters' friends. But Son is a whole new ball game because Husband and I own NOTHING of Star Wars in the home and yet suddenly Son became obsessed. He talked about light sabers and the characters and all the cool flying things and suddenly Star Wars was on his mind. At the school book fair, Son chose a one of those "Star Wars Lego Dictionary" books and had Grandpa read it for him cover to cover. His current favorite game is to open any page of that book and ask us to name all the people on it. (very tedious game mind you.)
But it is the two most RECENT additions to the home that has just taken Star Wars to another level. One mother/friend upon seeing Son's obsession with Star Wars casually commented that her family was going to be getting rid of ALL the Star Wars legos that they had collected.(2 boys - guess how big THAT collection was.) She asked if I wanted them. I said I only wanted them if they were all intact and I wasn't going to be building anything without any guide books. The following week two HUGE boxes of Star Wars vehicles arrived. The look on Son's face when he opened the box of lego nonsense is not one I'll soon forget. The second Star Wars installation came in the form of two light sabers that another young gentleman was no longer playing with and wanted to give to Son. The mother reassured me saying that they were "not the type that lit up or made crazy sounds" and so I agreed. Those arrived and Son has been having light saber battles with anyone who is willing to stand still and hold up the light saber. He makes his own sound effects. Between the Legos exploding Star Wars characters and ships in almost every room of the house and light sabers that have a habit of appearing everywhere but where Son wants it, Star Wars is in this home.
But the final infiltration of Star Wars into our household is in my own maneuver this evening. Daughter shrieked as she came running down the hall about some bug that was chasing her. I watched this bug as it flew into the bathroom. Looking around for something with which to kill it, I happened upon Son's new/used light saber, grabbed it, extended it to its fullest and began swiping at the bug. Son began screaming, "Don't KILL THE BUG WITH MY LIGHT SABER" as I twirled the light saber around madly. I took aim, and swung the light saber, hit the bug mid flight and the bug landed in the toilet.
I think I just became a Jedi.
But if my fancy bug maneuver isn't enough to make me a Jedi (what does one have to do anyways?) this bundt cake should. Because it is, by far, my favorite one. Mango in flavor, tropical in tone, and delicious in texture - it's like the perfect slice of flavor. Vanilla bean specks in both the cake and the syrup subtly perfume the cake and the result is nothing short of a Jedi mind trick.
The Force is with you if you bake and serve this cake.
Mango Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Mango Soaking Syrup
Makes 10-inch bundt cake, serving 12 to 14
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out; SAVE empty pod for syrup
½ cup sour cream
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ cups diced fresh mango
⅔ cup fresh mango puree, strained (Simply blend mango and then strain it through a mesh strainer)
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
empty vanilla bean pod
Place rack in center of oven, and preheat oven to 350. Grease and lightly flour inside of 10 inch bundt pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. Mix together buttermilk and sour cream.
Using either a stand mixer (paddle attachment) or a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and beat at medium-high speed until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating for 30 to 40 seconds after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla bean. At low speed, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with sour cream. (Add a bit of flour, a bit of sour cream mixture, a bit of flour, a bit of sour cream mixture, a bit of flour.)
Using a spatula, carefully fold in diced mango, incorporating it into the batter. Carefully spoon batter into bundt pan.
Bake cake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then invert it onto another rack. Place the cake, on the rack, over a baking sheet.
While cake is baking, make syrup. Combine mango puree, sugar, water, and empty vanilla bean pod in a small non reactive saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Using a pastry brush, dab syrup generously all over surface of the warm cake, allowing it to soak into the cake before reapplying. Let the cake cool completely.