Friday, May 8, 2020

A Cake for Agatha, plus #giveaway

Maddie Day here, with a recipe for Delicious Death Cake. 

I'm also known as Edith Maxwell, and under that name a book I wrote received the Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel last Saturday night!

Yes, Charity's Burden, my fourth Quaker Midwife Mystery, was announced as the winner for this highly competitive award. An Agatha is the highest honor for a traditional mystery. I am so thrilled and, frankly, still a bit stunned. 

Here's the blurb:
The winter of 1889 is harsh in Amesbury, Massachusetts, but it doesn't stop Quaker midwife Rose Carroll from making the rounds to her pregnant and postpartum mothers. When Charity Skells dies from an apparent early miscarriage, Rose wonders about the symptoms that don't match the stated cause of death. With several suspects emerging, each with their own possible motives, Rose and police detective Kevin Donovan race against time to solve the case before another innocent life is lost.

In normal times, the Agatha Awards are presented at the annual Malice Domestic banquet in North Bethesda, Maryland. The winners are feted and hugged and congratulated and photographed, and then everyone adjourns to the bar for more basking in glory. This year? I watched the announcement on my kitchen latptop and got a brief congratulations from my non-fiction-reading partner (who promptly adjourned to his den). I poured myself a hefty bourbon and started reading hundreds of online congratulations. 

Frankly? It wasn't as anywhere near as much fun, but what can you do? The Malice organizers assured the winners that we'll all be celebrated at the conference next year and will receive our Agatha teapots at that time.

My blogmates here encouraged me to announce the award on my next post, in case you are one of the few who hadn't heard. But the Quaker Midwife Mysteries take place in the late 1880s and do not include recipes. My occasional forays into preparing recipes from that era have not been successful, so I won't plague you with a fruitcake of enormous proportions. 

The next best thing has to be an Agatha cake. That is, a cake mentioned in an Agatha Christie book! I went searching and discovered that A Murder is Announced has lots of food mentions. It includes a chocolate cake "of a melting richness" called Delicious Death because "it was so good, it was worth dying for." I hadn't read a Christie book in a long time, and I was a little surprised (I shouldn't have been) at how well the writing stood up. I see an Agatha-reading binge in my near future.

The cake described in the book had a block of chocolate, sugar, "much butter," and...raisins. Me, I don't put raisins in chocolate cake,and I was all out of blocks of chocolate (more's the pity). Being quarantined, I used cocoa powder and oil in this version of the cake, because I'm always afraid of running out of butter. But don't worry, the mocha frosting has nearly a stick of butter in it, and the cake definitely has a melting richness.

So let's get to it. 

Delicious Death Cake


1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (not shown in photo)
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature (if you don’t have any, you can mix 1/2 tbsp lemon juice into room temperature 2% milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before using)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup boiling water
Mocha Frosting
6 tbsp softened butter
3 3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted into the powdered sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder (not shown in photo)
1/6 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Extra milk, if necessary
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a nine-inch cake pan, line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper, and oil the paper.
Whisk sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk egg, buttermilk, and oil. Pour the wet mix into the dry and beat on low until just combined (scrape the bottom and sides several times to make sure there are no dry clumps left). It will have a texture like very thick brownie batter. Stir in boiling water until just combined, scraping again to make sure everything is completely incorporated.

Transfer the batter to pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the sides while hot. Turn the cake out of the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Allow the cake to cool completely on the rack.

Beat butter in a large bowl until smooth. Stir coffee into powdered sugar mix. Mix 2 cups of the sugar mix a little at a time, beating continuously until smooth. Gradually beat in the milk and vanilla. Beat in the remaining powdered sugar mix a little at a time. If necessary, beat in extra milk 1 tbsp at a time to reach spreading consistency.

Transfer cake to serving plate and frost. 

Serve with a dollop of malice domestic!

The next Quaker Midwife Mystery is Taken Too Soon (not yet up for preorder) and will be out in early September. Doesn't it have a pretty cover? The book takes place on Cape Cod.

Maddie's next book is Nacho Average Murderwhich comes out June 30 and is the seventh Country Store Mystery. I still have ARCs and would love to send one of you (US only) a signed copy. 

Readers: What's your favorite Agatha Christie book or movie?

Robbie Jordan is temporarily leaving Pans ’N Pancakes, her country store in South Lick, Indiana, to visit Santa Barbara, California—where wildfire smoke tinges the air, but a more immediate danger may lie in wait . . .

I hope you'll visit my alter-ego Edith Maxwell and me on our web site, sign up for our monthly newsletter, visit us on social media, and check our all our books and short stories.

Maddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell) is a talented amateur chef and holds a PhD in Linguistics from Indiana University. An Agatha-nominated and bestselling author, she is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and also writes award-winning short crime fiction. She lives with her beau north of Boston, where she’s currently working on her next mystery when she isn’t cooking up something delectable in the kitchen.


  1. It’s been so long since I read any Agatha that I don’t remember. But I’m older so there’s lots of things I don’t remember these days. Thank you for the opportunity to win. suefoster109 at gmail dot com

  2. I love murder on the Orient express. Thank you for the chance!
    maceoindo at yahoo dot com

  3. I have been reading Agatha Christie again recently and love the Timmy and Tuppence stories. I love the Quaker Midwife series and look forward to the new release. And the chocolate cake sounds delicious.

  4. CONGRATULATIONS🎉 on your award!!! The cake looks wonderful!!!!
    I finished reading all the Agatha Christie mysteries when I was in high school. I can't say I have a favorite the characters are all so interesting, but the very first one I read was Elephants Can Remember. My mom let me borrow her hardcover. I don't recall how old I was when the love of Agatha Christie started maybe junior high. My mother had read the Nancy Drew series to us when we were younger and my love of mysteries just started from there.
    Everyone here on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen is so great thanks for a chance to win.😊

  5. My favorite would be Murder on the Orient Express! I am anxious to try the chocolate cake recipe and like that it just makes 1 9 inch cake. It is just the right size for 2 people. dbahn(at)iw(dot)net

    1. Exactly. Not too big. And I still have frosting in the fridge.

    2. Dianne, random picked you as our winner. Please check your email, and congratulations!

  6. Shared but not entering since I have a copy coming. Can't wait to read it!

    Oh my goodness love the cover of "Taken Too Soon"! I get excited just at the prospect of getting to read that one too.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  7. What a delectable recipe. We would enjoy this treat. My favorite is And Then There Were None. Thanks for this great giveaway.saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  8. Chocolate cake is always a good idea! Our next-door neighbor makes a fabulous chocolate square, moist and delectable, that has raisins in it. It reminds me a little of the Chunky candy bars from our childhoods, minus the nuts.

    I need to reread the Agatha Christie books, since I can't remember much. However, I did love the Tommy and Tuppence mysteries best.

    But first, catching up on Rose Carroll's exploits! She is one of my all-time favorite characters, and I thank you for creating her, Edith. Your Agatha was well-earned.

    k maslowski at fuse dot net


  9. Time to read more Agatha Christie indeed . . . I do have fond memories of A POCKET FULL OF RYE . . . the playfulness of rhymes contrasts well with the seriousness of crime. I'm looking forward to the new Midwife, but who is that hussy showing off her ankles? ;-)

  10. My favorite is And Then There We’re None.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

  11. Congratulations on your Agatha award! My favorite Agatha Christie story is And Then There Were None. This cake looks yummy. Thanks for the recipe! aut1063(at)gmail(dot)com

  12. Huge Tommy and Tupper experience fan. Saw the movies on PBS recently. Look forward to reading your books under both names. Thanks

  13. Ooh, chocolate cake, yum. I liked The Man in the Brown Suit.

  14. I have enjoyed a number of Agatha Christie books. And the movies that followed. But don't remember any specifics. I have often entertained a dichotomy of thought. Which series I liked best. Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot. And your recipe solves a problem for me. I was trying to decide what to do about dessert. Make a chocolate cake. Thank you for the recipe. bessdeepotter84 at gmail dot com

  15. The newest Murder on the Orient express movie was fairly well done! kristin.segura at

  16. Congratulations on your win! That is such an interesting series. The theme is so different but it captures all the emotions, just a great read. This was going to be my break out year for travel to family, conventions, etc. after needed home tasks but oh well. Soon. I like the recipe with your modifications and its smaller size. I've realized that the first thing I look at now in a recipe is how much flour it uses. (I saw elsewhere you scored flour. Yay!)

  17. Congratulations on winning the Agatha award. The cake looks yummy, but I noticed you have baking soda listed twice in the recipe. Is this right? Thanks for the giveaway.

  18. I'm sorry to say that the only Agatha Christie book that I have read is Murder on the Orient Express. I've hear good things about The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, so that is next on my list. Congratulations again on your Agatha!

  19. Karen Halsey
    Congratulations on winning the Agatha Award. Agatha Christie is my favorite author that got me interested in mysteries. Try to watch series on pbs and movies made based on her books when on. Recipe sounds great. Thanks for sharing

  20. Congratulations on your award! My favorite Agatha Christe book is "Murder On The Orient Express".

  21. I don't remember any of those books. Your looks good.

  22. Mine would be Murder on the Orient Express. Thanks for your great generosity.

  23. Edith, congrats on your Agatha Award! I've read nearly all of Christie's books & loved so many. A few months ago I binge-watched a lot of Poirot and Miss Marple on Britbox & Acorn. Some favorites are And Then There Were None, Death on the Nile, and Murder on the Orient Express. That cake looks scrumptious, will be trying it soon!
    lola777_22 at hotmail dot com

  24. I like many of Agatha Christie's book. I think the first one of hers I read was And Then There Were None. I was hooked on mysteries since. The paperback copy my parents had was titled Ten Little Indians. I still have that copy. bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

  25. My favorite was, the movie And Then There Were None. It made quite the impression on me as a kid and also started me reading the Agatha Christie mysteries.
    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

  26. My favorite Agatha Christie story is And Then There Were None.
    Congratulations on the Agatha Award!

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

  27. Congratulations Maddie. I believe I have that cake recipe or something pretty close to it and it was a big hit last time I made it. My favorite Agatha movie is the original Miss Marple movies from the 1960s with Margaret Rutherford. I can watch those over and over.

  28. Congratulations on a well deserve win. The cake looks delicious. doward1952(at)yahoo(dot)com

  29. Very best wishes on your wonderful achievement!
    This cake sounds perfect. And it would go well with that bourbon!
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  30. I started reading Agatha Christie mysteries in elementary school and have been a fan ever since. If I had to pick a favorite book and movie, I would say it is And Then There Were None.

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  31. I love the name "Delicious Death Cake!" I've read a few Agatha Christie but my favorite was one I read in my high school novels class, And Then There Were None. Runner up is Sleeping Murder that I read when I was about 10.

  32. Murder on the Orient express. Your cake looks delicious! I'd love to read your book. I haven't read that series yet. Wish I had it now! Here's hoping thank you for the chance😊

  33. Murder on the Orient Express. Thanks for the chance! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com