Saturday 22 March 2014

Umbongo Cake

Umbongo cake

Umbongo, Umbongo, they drink it in the Congo.... How many of you remember the (rather politically incorrect) television advert for the fruit juice drink from the 80s? Did you know Umbongo is still around?

The letter that we have chosen for Alphabakes this month is U and as soon as I remembered Umbongo, I knew I wanted to recreate the flavours in cake form - so that's exactly what I've done! I bought a carton of the juice drink - it didn't taste quite like I thought I remembered, but it was a long time ago! Reading the back of the carton I discovered that the main ingredients are apple, lemon, orange, pineapple, passion fruit and mandarin. So I stocked up on fruit and went to work creating my own recipe - it tasted amazing (even though I say so myself!).

Umbongo Cake
An original recipe by Caroline Makes

You need:
3 cups self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 mandarin
2 apples, peeled and chopped
300g tinned or fresh pineapple, chopped
2 passion fruit, scooped out

Preheat oven to 180C. I have to confess that I forgot to add the sugar in this recipe until later so the picture isn't particularly representative... you should start by creaming the butter and the sugar.

 Then beat in the eggs, and fold in the flour and baking powder. Finally mix in the oil.

Zest the orange and lemon and juice both fruits along with the mandarin. Add the zest and juice to the cake mixture and stir in gently.

 Chop the apple and pineapple and scoop out the middle of the passion fruit and mix in.

You can still see the passion fruit seeds in the mixture. They retain a little of their crunch when the cake is cooked, so you may prefer to leave the passion fruit out, but I didn't mind the seeds.I asked a friend for his opinion and he thought the seeds were fine in the cake and said he could definitely taste the passion fruit amid all the other flavours.

Grease and/or line two 9 inch cake tins - I sprayed mine with Cake Release. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

Allow to cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack.The cakes are pretty soft as the mixture is so runny, due to the juice, so if you remove the cakes from the tin too early they will crack - as the one on the left did here! I left the one on the right in the tin to cool and it came out perfectly.

 I wanted to add some Umbongo into the icing, and made a cream cheese icing with cream cheese, icing sugar and a dash of Umbongo. The icing tasted mainly of icing sugar though - the Umbongo would work better in a glaze I think, but I wanted a thick creamy frosting for this cake.

 I spread the icing in the middle and on top of the cake. For some reason I can never get cream cheese icing to be particularly stuff, I wonder what I'm doing wrong?

I also spread the icing around the side of the cake.

The cake was very moist and the icing quite squidgy, so you definitely need to eat this cake with a fork - but what a cake! I'm really pleased with my recipe - this is probably one of the nicest cakes I have made. It doesn't exactly taste like Umbongo so I would say the cake is inspired by Umbongo rather than tastes like it, but the flavour combination is wonderful and the amount of fruit makes the cake very moist and light.

I'm sending this to Alphabakes, the blog challenge I host along with Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker, as our letter this month is U.


  1. Marvellous!
    I have never heard of Umbongo but it sounds utterly wonderful !!
    The cake looks yummy.

    1. It was very popular with school children in Britain in the 80s... I wonder who else remembers it?

  2. Mmmm, this sounds gorgeous and so fruity and tropical. And am I allowed to say one of your five a day per slice maybe?! A really clever use of the letter U too - I can't see anyone having the same idea =D

  3. What a great idea for a U themed bake. I love all the fruit you've managed to pack into it.

  4. hysterical!... I loved that advert but I don't thunk I ever actually drank the stuff... cake looks gorgeous, really gorgeous and a brilliant letter U!

  5. unusual-i wouldn't have thought of using umbongo for the alphabakes letter "u".

  6. Oooh has to be the best use of the letter U! I loved Umbongo, haven't had it for years. Have to admit that I've never even considered what actual fruit might have been in it - sounds absolutely delicious in cake form.

  7. Brilliant use of U! I love all that fruit in there, I can imagine the cake must have been very moist and tasty. Love that you paired with with cream cheese frosting -yum! Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.

  8. Good for you for recreating the flavours of such an unusual ingredient for the challenge! I am sure it tasted delicious.

  9. I have never heard of Umbongo but with that combination of flavours, it sounds like the perfect inspiration for a 'U' cake! The cake looks amazing and very inviting! I love the softness of the icing.....


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