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Vanilla Layer Cake With Mango Curd

This image may contain Food Cake Dessert and Torte
Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Susie Theodorou and Natasha Pickowicz, prop styling by Rebecca Bartoshesky

Breaking up the components and preparing them ahead will make tackling this layered cake feel more manageable.


12 servings



cup (100 g) sugar

Pinch of kosher salt


vanilla bean, halved lengthwise


cup (100 g) silver tequila



envelope unflavored powdered gelatin (about 2½ tsp.)


(heaping) cup (200 g) fresh mango pieces (from 1 large ripe mango), puréed until smooth


Tbsp. (80 g) fresh lemon juice


tsp. kosher salt


cups (400 g) sugar, divided


(150 g) large eggs


(110 g) large egg yolks


Tbsp. (85 g) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces


cup (100 g) extra-virgin olive oil



  1. Soak

    Step 1

    Combine sugar, salt, and ½ cup water in a small saucepan; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and discard pod. Bring to a simmer and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour in tequila. Strain into a small bowl (you should have about 1 cup). Cover and chill.

    Step 2

    Do Ahead: Soak can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.

  2. Filling

    Step 3

    Place ½ cup cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin evenly over top; chill until ready to use.

    Step 4

    Cook mango purée, lemon juice, salt, and 1½ cups sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-low, stirring to dissolve sugar, until steaming (don’t boil), 5–7 minutes.

    Step 5

    Meanwhile, whisk eggs, egg yolks, and remaining ½ cup sugar in a medium bowl until pale and foamy, about 1 minute.

    Step 6

    Ladle some mango mixture into egg mixture, whisking to combine, then stream egg mixture into remaining mango mixture, whisking constantly. Cook, adjusting heat to keep mixture just under a simmer and stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until thick enough to coat spatula and an instant-read thermometer registers 170°, 8–10 minutes. Remove from heat and scrape in softened gelatin; stir to dissolve. Add butter, whisking in a piece at a time, then gradually stream in oil, whisking constantly. Strain curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Set in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water and stir to cool quickly. You should have about 4½ cups curd. Remove from water and cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto surface; chill until set, at least 4 hours.

    Step 7

    Do Ahead: Curd can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.

  3. Assembly

    Step 8

    Line a 9"-diameter cake pan or springform pan with plastic wrap, pressing into bottom and leaving generous overhang. Fit a 1-piece round of cake into pan, placing bottom side up. Using a pastry brush, dab a quarter of soak across entire surface of cake. Stir chilled mango curd to loosen, then scrape a third over cake and smooth in an even layer with a small offset spatula. Place another round of cake on top of curd, bottom side up, this time using a 2-piece layer. Repeat soaking and filling process. Top with the remaining 2-piece round of cake, bottom side up, and repeat soaking and filling process one more time. Top with remaining 1-piece round of cake, bottom side up, and brush with remaining soak. You should have 4 layers of soaked cake separated by 3 layers of filling. Wrap plastic overhang up and over cake; chill at least 12 hours and up to 2 days to allow mango curd to set and cake to absorb soak.

    Step 9

    To frost, remove plastic from top of cake and invert cake onto a cake plate or platter. Remove pan and plastic. Dollop about 1 cup buttercream over top of cake and smooth across top and down sides, creating a very thin layer. You want to fill in any gaps, adhere any crumbs to the cake, and seal in the fillings (this is called a crumb coat). Chill cake 10 minutes, then scrape remaining frosting on top of cake and spread all over, working down and around sides. Decorate as desired.

    Step 10

    Do Ahead: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Chill until frosting sets, then cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature 1–1½ hours before slicing.

    Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Susie Theodorou and Natasha Pickowicz, prop styling by Rebecca Bartoshesky

    Step 11

    Highly recommended reading: Layer cake tips, tricks, and common mistakes from Natasha Pickowicz.

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  • This recipe was bomb! I used claire saffitz sponge cake for that part instead which worked out wonderfully and was quite forgiving. The steps take time but are completely worth it. I would definitely recommend splurging for the vanilla beans for the icing. My favorite part was the mango curd. Can’t wait to try the other variations of this some other time!

    • Sanjay

    • Worcester, MA

    • 7/11/2022

  • Can other fruit be substituted for the mango? If so, what would work best? Thanks!

    • Anonymous

    • 12/18/2020

  • THIS CAKE! Cannot recommend these recipes enough! They are not too sweet, moorish and look spectacular. The recipe is written beautifully and includes all the critical point. The sponge comes out perfect, every time! BRAVO! I will make these cakes until the day I die! Well done!

    • cakerbakergrazer

    • Australia

    • 6/7/2019

  • This cake is a show-stopper. I made it for Thanksgiving this year and it absolutely wowed with its incredible flavor and beauty. I followed directions exactly as written and my cake turned out exactly as pictured. This cake was fairly labor intensive but absolutely worth it (take the authors advice and make some things ahead of time).

    • Anonymous

    • Ohio

    • 12/9/2018