Seventeen-year-old Emily Benedict, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, intent on learning more about her mother, Dulcie, moves in with her grandfather, but is disappointed to find that her grandfather doesn’t want to talk much about Dulcie. She soon discovers, though, that many still hold a grudge against Dulcie for the way she treated an old sweetheart before dumping him and disappearing. Luckily, Dulcie’s high school adversary, Julia Winterson, is baking cakes every day with the hope that they’ll somehow attract the daughter she gave up for adoption years ago but also in the hope of rekindling a love she fears might be lost forever. Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect.
This truly is a “sweet” read with lots of magical elements that the author is known for. I still think Garden Spells is her best work to date. For those in Book Bites groups perhaps you’ll remember the great book discussion we had with that novel. It seems that I am frequently disappointed by later works from various authors. Still, I would recommend it for those looking for a quick and easy read. And just in case all that talk of cakes should inspire you….here’s Julia’s recipe for hummingbird cake.
Julia’s Traditional Southern Cakes
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple, well drained
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped firm ripe banana
Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon together. Add eggs and oil to the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until ingredients are moistened. Stir in vanilla, pineapple and pecans. Stir in the bananas last. Spoon the batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in 350 degree oven, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a standing mixer, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until ingredients combine. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix.