Today we welcome Vicki Delany back to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. You may also know her as Eva Gates. She's written police procedure and caper series, stand-alone Gothic suspense, and cozies but today she's introducing a brand new series, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries with a hardcover book giveaway. Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the draw, US entries only please.
After you’ve engaged in a shopping frenzy at the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, located at 220 Baker Street, West London, Massachusetts, be sure and pop next door for afternoon tea at Mrs. Hudson’s.
Head baker Jayne Wilson does a marvelous job of crating the perfect, fully-traditional afternoon tea. You might even be lucky enough to get one of the special Sherlock tea pots and matching cups.
Occasionally, for a special occasion, Jayne is forced to reply on her business partner Gemma Doyle for help in the kitchen.
A kitchen is not my natural environment, but the following afternoon found me in the back of the tea room as ordered, ready to help out.
“It would look more appealing if you mixed the offerings up a little,” I said.
“No, Gemma, it would not.”
“We can tuck the circular sandwiches around the scones, and the square sandwiches in with these small brownies, that way you’d have consistency of shape.”
“I don’t want consistency of shape. I want sandwiches on the bottom tier, scones in the middle, and the tarts and cookies on the top. That’s the way afternoon tea has been served since time immemorial.”
“Actually, afternoon tea isn’t a long-standing tradition. It’s generally considered to have begun around 1840 when Anna, Duchess of Bedford…”
“Gemma, stop talking. Butter that bread. The smoked salmon spread and the chicken salad are already prepared. The cucumbers, watercress, and herbs are sliced. All you have to do is put the sandwiches together. Follow the assembly instructions I prepared, and cut them according to the design I printed out for you. When they’re ready, cover them in plastic wrap. Got it?”
“I am capable of making sandwiches.” I glanced around the busy kitchen. “Do you have a ruler?”
“What do you need a ruler for?”
“It says here that the cucumber sandwiches are to be two inches long by three quarters of an inch wide. A ruler would ensure accuracy.”
“Roughly, Gemma. Roughly is good enough.”
“Very well.” I set about cutting the crusts off the white sandwich bread slices laid out before me. Jayne began rolling out the dough for another batch of strawberry tarts. The tea room had been exceptionally busy all day, she said, meaning they’d had to serve some of the food she’d prepared for the big group due to arrive at four. At the moment, Jocelyn was washing dishes and Fiona was arranging pots of tea for a table of six who’d just come in.
I was rather enjoying this making of sandwiches. Like a well-oiled machine, I went down the row buttering the crustless slices of bread (lightly), back up the row adding an ice-cream scoop of chicken salad, down the row sprinkling on pretty, green herbs, back up the row putting the tops on, and finally slicing them into triangles.
“Those have got to be the neatest sandwiches I’ve ever seen,” Fiona said.
“Thank you,” I said. Next up: the smoked salmon spread, which would be rolled into pinwheel shapes.
Jayne often makes a mini-version of these cupcakes so go in the top tier of the tray. As dictated by tradition.
· 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
· 2 teaspoons baking powder
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1/2 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
· 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
· 1 1/3 cups sugar
· 2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites
· 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
· 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
· 1 1/3 cups large-flake unsweetened coconut
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Pulse shredded coconut in a food processor until finely ground, and whisk into flour mixture.
3. With and electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in whole eggs, whites and vanilla, scrapping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of coconut milk, and beating until combined after each.
4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling eat three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; turn out cupcakes onto wire racks and let cool completely. cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature , or freeze up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
5. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread a generous dome of icing onto each cupcake, and, if desired, garnish with flaked coconut. Store at room temperature until ready to serve.
Icing: Use your favorite buttercream vanilla icing. I like to use a splash of coconut milk rather than plain milk. If you don’t normally add milk to your icing, you can cut down slightly on the butter and replace with coconut milk.
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers, author of twenty-four crime novels, including standalone Gothic thrillers, the Constable Molly Smith series, and the Year Round Christmas Mysteries. Under the pen name Eva Gates she writes the Lighthouse Library cozy series from Penguin.
Her latest is Elementary She Read, the first in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series from Crooked Lane (March 14, 2017).
Vicki is the past-president of Crime Writers of Canada. Her work has been nominated for the Bony Blithe and the Arthur Ellis Awards.
Visit Vicki at www.vickidelany.comFacebook: Vicki Delany & Eva Gates (evagatesauthor) and twitter: @vickidelany and @evagatesauthor