Bestselling author Katie Graykowski has published more than twenty novels. She likes sassy heroines, Mexican food, glitter nail polish, and red velvet cake—even if she fails at baking them. Today she joins us to share a successful cake recipe. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
When Mustang Ridges, my heroine, needs comfort food, she turns to cupcakes. As long as they aren’t vegan, any flavor will do. But her favorite is red velvet.
Just like my heroine, I love red velvet cupcakes. So why, do you ask, is the recipe below for strawberry cupcakes?
The truth is … I make the worst red velvet cake in the world. As an amateur baker, I’ve tried dozens of red velvet cake recipes, and they all end up dry, flavorless, and dense.
My husband’s grandmother, Nell Deplantis, made the best red velvet cake ever. We lost her a few years ago, and she took her red velvet cake recipe with her to heaven. I did get her potato salad recipe, so there’s that.
In my ever-ending quest for the perfect red velvet, I combined several different recipes. Normally, this yields fantastic desserts like double cheesecake brownies, chocolate rum tres leches cake, and chocolate covered strawberry custard parfaits.
So armed with my Frankenstein-ed red velvet cake recipe, I committed one entire Sunday to the creation of red velvet perfection.
Just look at the fantastic cake above.
I even made extra frosting.
And then I cut a piece. Not only was it dry enough to suck the spit out of my mouth, but it tasted like vinegar and salt. Here’s what happened to that cake.
To add insult to injury, I managed to get red food coloring on the bottom of my shoes so my kitchen floor looked like a murder scene. Did I mention I have concrete floors? Anyway, red velvet is permanently off my baking list.
Moving right along … strawberry cupcakes. This is what I make for myself on my birthday.
I cup frozen strawberries*
2-1/2 cups flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 oz. box strawberry Jello
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. butter (softened to room temperature)
3/4 cup juice from frozen berries
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 large eggs
2 sticks butter, softened
10 oz. frozen strawberries, drained
2 lbs. powdered sugar
* NOTE: Defrost strawberries ahead of time and allow to warm to room temperature. Drain berry water but retain for recipe.
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour three 8-inch pans.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, Jello, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add softened butter to the dry ingredients. Mix until butter is incorporated and soft crumbs form. It will look like sand. Add water from frozen strawberries, buttermilk, and vanilla to the crumbly mixture and mix to combine. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well. Scrape down sides of the bowl as needed. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Divide evenly between the 3 pans. Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Or if you're making cupcakes, line the cupcake tins with cupcake wrappers and remember to grease those too. After baking, for layer cakes, remove from pans, cool and then frost. It's okay to leave the cupcakes in the pans to cool.
To make frosting, dump everything in a bowl and mix well. Spread on cooled cakes.
So what if my birthday is next month. Birthday candles are always a good idea.
PTO Murder Club Boxed Set
Rest In Pieces
Mustang Ridges isn’t a town, a stripper, or some old western movie. She’s a feisty, single mom living in the small town of Lakeside, Texas where money does buy happiness and keeping up appearances is much more important than the truth. Six months ago on her thirtieth birthday, her husband decided that married life, fatherhood, and his job as the Lakeside Chief of Police weren’t as exciting as a permanent vacation to Grand Cayman with his mistress and a million dollars in diamonds he stole from the police evidence lockup.
This makes Mustang a pariah in a Lakeside full of piranha. But she refuses to leave. If she can’t join them, then she’ll beat them at their own game. With a little luck, some intimidation, and the help of her good friends Monica and Haley, Mustang presides over her own little slice of Lakeside, the Bee Creek Elementary Parent Teacher Organization.
All is quiet in Lakeside until Molly Miars, the kindergarten teacher, is found dead. According to the new police chief, she overdosed on heroin. That doesn’t explain why her head was the only body part to make it to her funeral.
Vowing to do right by Molly, the PTO decides to investigate.
What do money laundering, a castor oil plant, gold coins, and a kindergarten teacher have in common? Mustang must figure it out before the killer finds her.
Blown To Pieces
After restauranteur, Big Tommy Prather, is blown to pieces in his front yard, Mustang Ridges and her two best friends are on the case. While the local police have ruled the death an accident, Mustang and the girls suspect murder. They can prove it…sort of.
As the small community of Lakeside, Texas mourns the loss of one of its most beloved citizens, Mustang, Haley, and Monica do their level best to find someone who might want Big Tommy dead. Only…every single person they interview, loves Big Tommy.
What do missing people, a chili parlor, and audio cassette tapes have in common? Mustand must figure it out before her best friend is blown to pieces.
Just One Piece
When Mustang Ridges receives a severed penis in the mail, she knows it's going to be a bad day. She's sure there's a body to go along with the penis, but she can't find it.
While on the hunt for the owner of the penis, she stumbles across a dead body. It's Jane Dough, a substitute teacher at Lakeside Elementary. The Lakeside Elementary PTO is on the case. It appears that Jane might have been a prostitute who supplemented her income with a little substitute teaching on the side. After vowing to vet substitute teachers more carefully, Mustang goes head-to-head with the brothel’s madam.
What do a severed penis, a dead body, and a brothel have in common? Mustang must figure it out before the killer sends her another body part.
Bits And Pieces
When Mustang Ridge’s son goes off to middle school, all she wants to do is drown her anxiety with a gallon of coffee and a dozen red velvet cupcakes. Unfortunately, someone has bought all of the cupcakes at Lakeside Cupcakes except for the nasty vegan ones. She may be desperate, but she’s not that desperate. As she walks back to her car, something large falls from the sky and crashes onto the roof of her car.
It’s a body.
It seems like she’s always stumbling over bodies, but now they’re falling from the sky?
The body currently acting as her new hood ornament turns out to be Marty Smith, the man everyone hates … especially, Jill, the owner of Lakeside Cupcakes. After she’s arrested for his murder, she offers Mustang a lifetime supply of free cupcakes if she finds out who really killed Marty.
Mustang and the girls are on the case. They start questioning suspects and have a hard to finding anyone who doesn’t want Marty dead.
What do a Voodoo Priestess, a possible serial killer with a Barbie fetish, and the island of Bonaire have in common? Mustang must figure it out before Marty’s killer finds her.
Buy Link (Entire box set currently free!)