I am haunted by memories of the coffee cakes I enjoyed in my twenties. I grew up near Seattle and attended college in Portland, Oregon. The cold in the NW is different from the cold in Virginia. It’s wet and sinks into you more deeply. In Seattle or Portland, ducking into a coffeehouse (and they are coffeehouses, not coffee shops) you feel like you’ve come into someone’s living room. A coffeehouse is a place to get dry and warm and to stay awhile before returning to the inhospitable world.
Back then, the best NW coffeehouses served not-too-sweet coffee cake from large sheet pans. Studded with fresh fruit and topped with crunchy goodness, the sweet cake and hot coffee rekindled your inner fire. Of course, this was a long time ago. Still, as the weather begins to cool in these first days of Fall, I long to recreate that feeling of sweet comfort. This coffee cake does just that.
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
- 2 ripe mangos (about 2 cups) cut into ¾-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- grated zest of 1 lime
- 3/4 stick (6 tbsp) unsalted butter at room temp
- 2 large eggs, at room temp
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9-inch square pan.
First we make the topping. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix together and add the cubes of butter.
Mix until crumbly, about 3-4 minutes. Then add the vanilla. Mix another minute until it is completely incorporated. Add the toasted nuts and work the dough with your fingers until it clumps together.
Refrigerate the crumb topping until you are ready to use.
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg. Set aside.
Meanwhile, cut the mango flesh into cubes. Then toss the cubes of mango with 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice.
Cream the butter and lime zest in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mixing until creamy. Add the sugar and mix at medium speed until lightened, about 2 minutes. You will probably need to scrape down the bowl a couple of times. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add ½ the flour mixture. Mix until incorporated. Then all the buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Finally add the rest of the flour mixture and…you know.
Scrape the thick batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Cover with the cubed mango and press in slightly. It may seem like too much fruit, but it’s not. Scatter the crumb mixture over the mangos and batter.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the crumbs are turning golden, the cake that pops out between the fruit will be light brown and the entire cake is just starting to pull away from the pan. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool just until it is warm or until it reaches room temperature, if you can wait that long.
The final result? This hits all the high notes for a coffee cake, sweet, crunchy and comforting. My only criticism is that I found the fruit to be a little one-dimensional. I wanted more tang. I think this would be even better with raspberries, blackberries, wild blueberries or even fresh cranberries tossed with sugar. More research is clearly needed.
- Use different fruit combos
- Switch out the nutmeg for cardamom to add an Indian twist
- Try with sweetened flaked coconut added to the crumb topping for a more Caribbean flair.