Friday, April 9, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger - Jessica Beck and Donuts to Die For...

Please welcome Jessica Beck to our kitchen. Jessica is the penname of an author who was nominated for the Agatha Award and named an Independent Mystery Booksellers Association national bestseller nearly a dozen times. This month, St. Martin's Press is launching her new series of mysteries set in a cozy North Carolina donut shop. Here's a little peek at Glazed Murder, the first novel in her series...

Glazed Murder

Suzanne Hart, owner of Donut Hearts, is at her store at 2 AM when she looks out the window and sees a body being thrown from a speeding car in front of her shop. She can’t see much, but it becomes obvious that the driver thinks she witnessed the whole thing. Suzanne endures a series of threats until she is forced to investigate the murder herself. To make matters worse, Suzanne’s ex husband Max is trying to work his way back into her life, something she’s not at all sure she wants to happen.

0-312-94610-4 / 978-0-312-94610-4
Coming August 2010
FATALLY FROSTED 0-312-94611-2 / 978-0-312-94611-1

Coming December 2010
SINISTER SPRINKLES - 0-312-94612-0 / 978-0-312-94612-8

You can visit Jessica at this Web site:

And now, here's Jessica...

Everyone deserves the chance to indulge themselves now and then, whether it comes in the form of escaping with a good mystery, carving out five minutes of blissful silence in a hectic day, or savoring a bite or two of a delicious, homemade donut. I would never dream of advocating a steady diet of donuts alone, but at the same time, I couldn’t bring myself to give up one of the special little perks that remind me of just how nice life can be. While donuts probably aren’t going to bring about world peace, they can sometimes create a little joy in our lives, and that can never be a bad thing, can it?

My family got hooked on homemade donuts early on. My mother-in-law, thankfully a true joy to have in my life, got me started doing two things in the kitchen: creating pie crusts by hand using lard, and making donuts dusted with powdered sugar. The donuts were an Easter event for my spouse’s family, a tradition I quickly adopted for my own clan. There’s something comforting about sharing the treats these days, and they’ve become something much more than just a delicious bite; they remind us of those who may be gone now, but will be with us in spirit as long as we keep up our family traditions from one generation to the next. The last time I made these donuts, my teenaged daughter watched every move, and I suspect that someday when I’m long gone, these will be a reminder for her as well. All in all, it’s not a bad legacy for a donut to have, is it?


This donut is a good place to start your morning, or your donut-making career. It’s a fairly simple recipe that yields good results, and with a little practice, can be your go-to recipe when you need a quick fix. ~Jessica


4-5 cups bread flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 dashes of salt
½ cup sour cream
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk


Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and sift it into another bowl. Add the beaten egg to the dry mix, then add the sour cream and the buttermilk to the mixture and stir it all in lightly. You may need more buttermilk or flour to get the dough to a workable mix. This varies based on temperature and humidity, and the dough should resemble bread dough when you’re finished. That is, it shouldn’t stick to your hands when you touch it, but it should be moist enough to remain flexible. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

Knead this mix lightly, then roll it out to about 1/4 of an inch. Then, take your donut hole cutter-a simple circle with a removable center-and press out your donut shapes, reserving the holes for a later frying. The cutters are inexpensive, and worth having on hand, but a floured drinking glass could be used, too.

Set your fryer for 375 degrees, and when the oil is ready, put four to six donuts in the basket, depending on the size of your equipment. This can also be done in a deep pot, but I find the precision of the fryer worth the money, especially if you’re going to make donuts very often at all.

Let the donuts cook for around two minutes on one side, then check one. If it’s golden brown, the shade I prefer, flip it over with a large chopstick or wooden skewer, and let that side cook another two minutes.

Once the donuts are finished, remove them to a cooling rack or a plate lined with paper towels, being sure to drain them thoroughly before serving. You can coat the top with butter and then sprinkle them with powdered sugar, cinnamon, or eat them plain.

Thank you for
joining us today, Jessica!
~ Cleo


The first book in Riley Adams' Memphis Barbeque series, Delicious and Suspicious, will be released July 6. To celebrate its upcoming release, Riley is throwing a giveaway! :) Are you interested in winning Williams-Sonoma’s Ultimate Grilling Rub Collection? It’s easy to be entered! Just send us an email to with “Contest” in the subject line.
Grilling Rub Collection Really, really want to up your chances? You’ll get one extra entry if you follow us on Twitter, one extra if you subscribe to our posts (in the right hand sidebar under “Subscribe”), and one extra for becoming a follower (by clicking the “follow” button in the right hand column under our book covers and blog roll.) Just send us an extra email at and let us know what you’ve signed up for. If you’re already a follower or subscriber, let us know that, too!

Comments for Jessica welcome!
Just hit the comment link below...


  1. beyond perfect... I love this post... And the idea of the series.

    Thanks for the drop in, and now...let me be the first to comment...

    I have to go since... It's time to make the doughnuts

  2. To A Year on the Grill,

    Thanks so much for your kind words! There's something comforting about a warm donut, isn't there?

  3. To Cleo and everyone else at Mystery Lover's Kitchen,

    I appreciate the opportunity to join you all today! I love this site, and look forward to trying out more of the delicious recipes and wonderful books you all so graciously share with us!

  4. Congratulations on your new release!! And thanks so much, Jessica, for joining us at the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today!

    Mmmm....doughnuts! These look absolutely fantastic..and would you believe I've never tried making one? Thanks for sharing a good starter recipe with me!


  5. Jessica - thanks so much for being with us today. Love the recipe and the history of how your family donut recipe came to be handed down. One of my teenaged daughters watched me make stuffing for years and now she's in charge of it. Love that.
    Can't wait to try making donuts at home!

    Side note to Dave: You beat me to it! I thought I'd be the first to say "Time to make the doughnuts!" Great minds think alike, I guess.. *grin*


  6. To Riley/Elizabeth,

    What amazed me the first time I made donuts was how easy the entire process was. There's nothing like a little (or a lot) of powdered sugar on a hot donut you made yourself! Thanks for the welcome!

  7. To Julie,

    It's amazing what our kids pick up, especially when we don't even realize they're watching us.

    I have a dozen recipes in Glazed Murder, and tossed out three for every one I used.

    That's what I call research!

  8. Congrats on your book release and I can't wait to read my copy.

  9. Can't go wrong with donuts. Wishing you much success on the book release. Definitely adding it to my wish list.

  10. To Dru,

    Thanks so much.

    I hope you enjoy Glazed Murder. I know I had a great time writing it! It's always so exciting to hold that first copy in your hands. It never gets old!

  11. To Mason

    I couldn't agree more! I loved going to donut shops doing research! Talk about a nice day at work!

    Thanks for your well wishes, and adding Glazed Murder to your list!

  12. YUM! I now want this book and one of those donuts :)

  13. To Juju,

    What a great idea! Swing by the bookstore, grab a copy, then head to the kitchen, or the donut shop!

    If I could, I'd join you!

  14. I can't wait to get my hands on these! The donuts as well as the books! Awesome series... can't wait!

  15. To Jeanne C.

    Thanks so much for your kind words. I personally believe that donuts are the answer to world peace. Well, maybe not world peace, but they surely make me smile!

  16. Welcome, Jessica! As it happens, I have a recipe for doughnuts sitting here because I've been thinking about making them. Okay, drooling about it. I may give your recipe a shot first, though! It doesn't sound impossible!

    ~ Krista

  17. To Krista,

    Thanks for the welcome! I suddenly realized that I forgot to thank Julie, too! Sorry about that, you'all are wonderful.

    The great thing about most donut recipes is they deliver a great treat for not much money, so experimenting is pretty painless!

    I've found some of my favorite recipes 'tweaking' others until I find something I love.

  18. I'm on vacation with my husband this week. I brought your new book along to enjoy in the evenings. The problem is that I'm getting so much fresh air and exercise that I keep falling asleep way earlier than usual. Glazed Murder has travelled from Ma. all the way to Savannah and half way back (we are in Charlotte today).
    I've enjoyed what I've read so far and promise to finish as soon as we get home and all that wash gets done!

  19. To Elizabeth,

    That's so funny! Thanks for sharing. I hope I'm not putting you to sleep!
    I'm glad you're enjoying it! It sounds like a wonderful vacation.
    Have a safe trip home.

  20. Thanks for joining us, Jessica! Love the covers and the topic of your series -- YUM!!!

  21. To Jenn,

    Thank you. Everyone here has been so welcoming! It's great to be among you all.

    And I agree about the covers. They just get better and better.

  22. I love donuts, but have never tried making them myself. I'm dieting right now, so I won't be trying these soon, even though they sound delicious!

  23. To Janel,

    No doubt, none of the donuts I make are low cal! I've had people say we shouldn't indulge in them at all, and even my characters admit donuts should be a treat and not a steady diet. But wow, there's nothing like them when it's the only thing that will satisfy a craving!
    One of the reasons I like food related mysteries is because they give me a vicarious 'taste' of someone else's life and what they eat, and that's something we all can enjoy!