Having been lucky enough to be a guest in Vicki's home in scenic Prince Edward County, Ontario on a couple of occasions, I can assure you that she's a wonderful and relaxed hostess and a terrific cook. She didn't serve this cake though, so I plan to cadge another invitation ASAP!
Take it away Vicki!
My newest novel, UNDER COLD STONE, takes place over Canadian thanksgiving weekend. Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October. It’s a traditional harvest festival, not a celebration in memory of historical events. Simply a time to bring in the crops and get together with family and EAT!
Unlike in the U.S. Christmas is a much bigger holiday than Thanksgiving. In most families, people will gather for Thanksgiving but they aren’t likely to go vast distances and travel across the country (or around the world) as they are for Christmas.
Thus in Under Cold Stone, Constable Molly Smith’s mother, Lucky, is away for Thanksgiving, having a short holiday with her new paramour at the fabulous (and real!) Banff Springs Hotel in Banff National Park.
Molly Smith is left at home with a stack of favourite family recipes. Unfortunately Molly cannot cook. But she wants to have the full Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings for just her and her fiancé, Adam. How hard can it be? she thinks. I am quite a good baker, and I make lots of pies and cakes and tarts from scratch, including the pastry. For the cooking sections of this book I had to pretend I’m not.
Molly is surveying her disaster of a kitchen when her mother calls from Banff. Something has gone dreadfully wrong, and Molly gratefully abandons her attempts at cooking. Solving a murder has got to be easier than this.
Traditionally the meal at both Thanksgiving and Christmas is turkey. We do not eat green beans with cheese sauce (ug) or anything with marshmallows on it. Marshmallows are for putting on hot chocolate or roasting over a campfire. Nothing else except maybe Rice Krispy treats. We do like those.
We also like pie, and might have a couple of fruit pies at Thanksgiving as well as at Christmas. In my house, I make two desserts: a fruit pie and a cake. This is because one of my daughters is the only person in the western hemisphere who does not like fruit pie.
This cake is absolutely perfect. Quick and simple and totally delicious. Perhaps something Molly could try next time she faced with the holiday meal.
White Layer Cake
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
5 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment as well. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat well, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating until combined. Add milk and vanilla and beat until just combined.
Divide batter between pans; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 33 to 35 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely.
Frosting: Beat together butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium. Add confectioner's sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add salt, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
STEP 4Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread 1 cup frosting on top. Place remaining cake layer on top.
Spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, swirling to coat in a decorative fashion.
In April Vicki Delany will have two new books published, Under Cold Stone, (Poisoned Pen Press,) the seventh book in the Smith & Winters police procedural series and Juba Good, a Rapid Reads Novella from Orca Books set in South Sudan. Her first Rapid Reads book, A Winter Kill, was shortlisted for the 2012 Arthur Ellis Award for best novella.
Once you discover Vicki, you'll find a wonderful stash of books to enjoy.
Vicki also writes standalone novels of psychological suspense and the light-hearted Klondike Gold Rush books.
In a total change of pace, she is now writing the Lighthouse Library series for Penguin Obsidian, a cozy series set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, under the pen name Eva Gates. Look for By Book or By Crook in February, 2015.
Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world, Vicki enjoys the rural life in bucolic, Prince Edward County, Ontario.
Vicki is proud to have been chosen as Canadian guest of honour for Bloody Words, the Canadian mystery conference, in June 2014.