|Photo used with permission from dimplesanddelights.blogspot.com|
Karen Pullen owns a bed & breakfast in Pittsboro, a small historic North Carolina town. She’s won a Derringer for short story writing, and earned an MFA in Popular Fiction from Stonecoast, the University of Southern Maine. Cold Feet is her debut mystery novel. Learn more about Karen at her website. -- AP
I never deliberately meant for my mystery novel Cold Feet to have so many food references. But fourteen times in 292 pages, someone is eating. That’s once every eleven pages. And not sandwiches or salads or anything generic. At a wedding reception people eat shrimp, crab claws, and oysters; spring rolls and beef medallions. My main character Stella Lavender fixes lentil soup, scrambled eggs and grits for her grandmother. Stella’s partner in her undercover drug operations is a gourmand, fond of grilled mahi mahi, mocha lattes, and cooking six course meals. As Stella investigates a murder, she stops by a chocolate shop where she must taste Chocolate High cake, and when, on page 136, she visits Magnolia Manor, one of two B&Bs in Cold Feet, she’s offered a piece of blackberry jam cake.
Melting in my mouth, the cake was moist and tender with hints of cinnamon and chocolate. I had to hold myself back from inhaling it in three quick bites. “What is that flavor?”
“The secret ingredient is blackberry jam,” [Camilla] said.
Camilla’s Blackberry Jam Cake is a combination of spice and pound cake, with nuts and raisins. It’s not real sweet, so you could even serve it for breakfast.
For the cake:
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter – important that the butter be almost room temperature. Your thumb will make a slight indent.
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, beaten
3 cups plus 1 TBS all-purpose flour
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
2 TBS cocoa
¼ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup blackberry preserves (not jelly)
For the glaze:
½ cup of blackberry preserves
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
1 ½ cups of powdered sugar.
Grease or spray a 12-cup bundt pan. Pre-heat the oven to 325.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well.
In another bowl, combine 3 cups flour, spices, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Alternately add batches of the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the egg-sugar-butter mixture, beating well with each addition.
In a small bowl toss the raisins and walnuts together with the TBS of flour. Stir into the batter. Add the jam and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven for about 50 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto a rack and let it cool completely before glazing.
Heat the blackberry preserves in a small sauce pan (or the microwave) until it thins a bit, then whisk in the powdered sugar and lemon juice till thick and smooth. Pour over cake.
I often take Blackberry Jam Cake to my book readings and serve a piece to everyone. Including myself, naturally.
You can probably connect the dots to guess some of what Cold Feet is about: an undercover drug agent goes to a wedding on her day off. But instead of a ceremony, there’s a murder, and Stella is pulled into the investigation. Combine wedding and family drama with a drug dealer, a fake Scotsman, religious scammers, a stalkerish ex-girlfriend, a litigious couple, and Stella’s cheating fiancé – and you have the ingredients for Cold Feet.