A Night of Miracles and Mango Coffeecake

Having just finished Night of Miracles, by Elizabeth Berg, I've got to say she's got another winner! I've reviewed several of Berg's novels in the past (The Art of Mending and Never Change), but am not letting that stop me.  When they're good, they're good, and you want to share it!

This one calls to mind the sadly late Maeve Binchey, featuring a number of diverse characters in a small town, whose lives are tied together in various ways. The central figure, an elderly woman, Lucille, is a consummate baking queen, who has begun to teach classes in her home, between fending off a few encounters with the Angel of Death.

So mentions of food abound, not just baked goods, but plenty of scrumptious Southern cooking turns up here, with another of the characters working in a local cafe.  Beware of constant temptations from the likes of Upside-down Chocolate Pudding Cake, Praline Cupcakes, and sugar cookies stuffed with raspberry jam.  Oh Boy!

From the Publishers:

"Lucille Howard is getting on in years, but she stays busy. Thanks to the inspiration of her dearly departed friend Arthur Truluv, she has begun to teach baking classes, sharing the secrets to her delicious classic Southern yellow cake, the perfect pinwheel cookies, and other sweet essentials. Her classes have become so popular that she’s hired Iris, a new resident of Mason, Missouri, as an assistant. Iris doesn’t know how to bake but she needs to keep her mind off a big decision she sorely regrets.

When a new family moves in next door and tragedy strikes, Lucille begins to look out for Lincoln, their son. Lincoln’s parents aren’t the only ones in town facing hard choices and uncertain futures. In these difficult times, the residents of Mason come together and find the true power of community—just when they need it the most."

I was called upon to bring some baked goods to an event, and summoned up my domestic goddess persona (what my ex-son-in-law called me).  This novel inspired a pan of Mango Coffeecake, the recipe adapted from one recently posted by Beth Fish Reads.

Mango Coffeecake
  from King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Baking, via Beth Fish Reads
One 9 x 13-inch cake
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) diced fresh peaches (or mangoes)

  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purposed flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch cake pan.

Make the cake: Whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the egg. Add the dry ingredients one third at a time, alternately with the buttermilk. Add the vanilla. Stir in the peaches until evenly distributed. Pour and spread into the prepared pan.

Make the topping: combine the butter, sugar, flour, and cinnamon until evenly mixed. Sprinkle over the top of the batter.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Just scrumptious, perfect with coffee or tea!  My mango was a large one, on the slightly under ripe side, which is best for cooking.  I'll share this over at Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event, and with Heather's Foodies Read Challenge, September Edition.  Check out the good food and book suggestions.


Beth F said...

I love small-town novels, I'll have to give Berg a try. I soooooo happy you tried that coffee cake. It really is the best and a great way to use up almost any kind of fruit.

judee said...

Visiting from Weekend Cooking. This sounds like a book I would enjoy after reading your review. And the mango cake- I'll take a slice now.- we are mango lovers

Mae Travels said...

Using mango instead of peach is an inspired idea! We get pretty good mangos when peaches are out of season (which unfortunately is most of the time)..

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

I always enjoy Berg's novels. Thanks for introducing me to this one.

Carole said...

Love mango in any form. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

shelleyrae @ book'd out said...

I added A Night of Miracles to my wishlist just the other day. Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe.

Tina said...

It’s like Maeve Binchy?! I love Binchy so I’m going to try this author. Can’t go wrong with King Arthur, I’d love that coffee cake.

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

I loved Night of Miracles, and I like your comparison of this to Maeve Binchy's novels, it's very apt.