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Jane Asher’s exclusive recipe for a murderous celebration cake
“There is nothing more indulgent than afternoon tea. I have particularly fond memories of the lazy afternoons spent with my grandmother, Agatha Christie, at Greenway as she tried out her latest ideas on us over a pot of tea and delicious cakes. As a thank you to her fans the world over we have invited the queen of party cakes, Jane Asher, to create a recipe for Delicious Death as a novel way to mark the 120th anniversary. The recipe is inspired by a passage in one of the Miss Marple books, her 50th novel, A Murder is Announced. I hope that you will enjoy this truly decadent cake; the dark Belgian chocolate centre and the zing of its brandy soaked cherry and ginger filling. I’m certain my grandmother would have loved it.”
INGREDIENTS: 175g dark chocolate drops (50-55% cocoa solids) 100g softened or spreadable butter 100g golden caster sugar 5 large eggs ½ tsp vanilla extract 100g ground almonds ½ tsp baking powder FOR THE FILLING: 150ml rum, brandy or orange juice 150g raisins 55g soft dark brown sugar 6-8 glace cherries 4-6 pieces crystallized ginger 1 tsp lemon juice FOR THE DECORATION: 175g dark chocolate drops (50-55% cocoa solids) 150ml double cream 2 tsps apricot jam 10g crystallized violet petals 10g crystallized rose petals 1 small pt of gold leaf
Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC, (300ºF, 135ºC fan assisted). Grease an 8” deep cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment or silicone. PREPARE THE FILLING: in a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and stir over heat until the mixture is bubbling. Allow to simmer gently, while stirring, for at least 2 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thickened. Allow to cool. In a small heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate drops over simmering water
or in a microwave, being careful not to let it overheat. Set aside to cool for a few minutes. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until very pale and fluffy. Separate the eggs, setting aside the whites in a large mixing bowl, and, one by one, add 4 of the yolks to the butter/sugar mix, beating well between each one. Add the melted chocolate and fold in carefully, then stir in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the ground almonds and baking powder, then stir them into the cake mix. Whisk the egg whites until peaked and stiff, then fold gently into the chocolate cake mix. Spoon the mix into the prepared cake tin, leveling the top, and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 55-65 minutes, or until firm and well risen. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out on to a rack to cool completely. Using a serrated knife, slice the cake in half horizontally. Spread the cooled fruit filling onto one half and sandwich the two halves back together.
TO DECORATE: put the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and melt them together over simmering water or in a microwave. Spread the cake all over with warmed apricot jam and place on a rack over a baking tray. Keeping back a couple of tablespoonfuls, pour the icing over the whole cake, making sure it covers the top and the sides completely, scooping up the excess from the tray with a palette knife as necessary. Add any surplus to the kept back icing. Carefully transfer the cake to a 10” cake board or pretty plate. Once the reserved icing is firm enough to pipe, place it in a piping bag with no. 8 star nozzle and pipe a scrolling line around the top and bottom edges of the cake. Leave for 2-3 hours, to set. Place the violet and rose petals into a plastic bag and crush them into small flakes. Sprinkle these liberally around the chocolate scrolls. Finally, with a cocktail stick, pull off some small flakes of gold leaf and gently add them to the top of the cake.
FROM A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED (1950) . ..
‘The cake that you want me to make, it is the –?’ Mitzi uttered a sound that to Miss Blacklock’s English ear sounded like Schwitzebzr or alternatively like cats spitting at each other. ‘That’s the one. The rich one.’ to ‘Yes. It is rich. For it I have nothing! Impossible for it chocolate and much make such a cake. I need butter, and sugar and raisins.’ us ‘You can use this tin of butter that was sent And some of the raisins we were from America. keeping for Christmas, and here is a slab of chocolate and a pound of sugar.’ s. Mitzi’s face suddenly burst into radiant smile cried, in ‘So, I make him for you good – good,’ she richness! an ecstasy. ‘It will be rich, rich, of a melting icing – I And on top I will put the icing – chocolate es. make him so nice – and write on it Good Wish that tastes of These English people with their cakes a cake. sand, never never, will they have tasted such –’ Delicious, they will say – delicious Her face clouded again. cake! ‘Mr Patrick. He called it Delicious Death. My that!’ I will not have my cake called lock. ‘It was a compliment really,’ said Miss Black h dying to eat such a cake.’ ‘He meant it was wort
THE QUEEN OF CRIME
In a remarkable career spanning over 55 years Agatha Christie not only wrote 71 novels and 165 short stories but also published two volumes of poetry, wrote two autobiographies and a number of very successful plays. Her most famous play, The Mousetrap, holds the world record for the longestrunning play and she has, to date, sold over two billion books, making her the most widely published novelist of all time.
2010 is also the 80th anniversary of Miss Marple’s first appearance in print and the 90th of Christie’s Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot. Over 4 million books, graphic novels, audiobooks, DVDs, games and items of merchandise are sold each year, which means something Christie-related is sold every eight seconds somewhere in the world. You can find A Murder is Announced, and other Agatha Christie books, published by HarperCollins, in all good bookshops.
We’d love to see how you got on with creating your own Delicious Death cake. Send your photographs to www.agathachristie.com and find out how other fans around the world are celebrating Christie’s birthday.
AGATHA CHRISTIE and DELICIOUS DEATH are registered trade marks of Agatha Christie Limited (a Chorion Limited company). All rights reserved.