“Delicious Death” Celebrates Agatha Christie in a Spectacular Way
Agatha Christie’s birthday is on September 15, which in 2020 makes it the 130th year since her birth. While I planned on celebrating with some social media acknowledgement and perhaps a little Chris-tea in my Agatha mug, my husband sneakily came up with a spectacular way to mark the occasion.
While the original plan was to have the book I’m working on released by now, 2020 has had its own agenda. As encouragement, the hubs decided to bake a “Delicious Death” cake from a recipe the BBC published ten years ago.
If you are a Christie reader, you no doubt recall that this was the cake Mitzi baked for Dora Bunner’s birthday in “A Murder Is Announced:”
“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.”
“Yes. It is rich. For it I have nothing! Impossible to make such a cake. I need for it chocolate and much butter, and sugar and raisins.”
“You can use this tin of butter that was sent us from America. And some of the raisins we were keeping for Christmas, and here is a slab of chocolate and a pound of sugar.”
Mitzi's face suddenly burst into radiant smiles.
“So, I make him for you good - good,” she cried, in an ecstasy. “It will be rich, rich, of a melting richness! And on top I will put the icing - chocolate icing - I make him so nice - and write on it Good Wishes.”
The BBC recipe was created by actress Jane Asher who has appeared in a couple of Christie TV episodes. She riffed on the chocolate and raisins and “rich, rich” mentioned in the book for her version. When I looked at the recipe, it sounded tasty, but it involved too many ingredients and steps. I’ve been cooking for many, many years so I feel I’m pretty competent. But I’m also kinda lazy.
My husband makes (quite good!) pancakes every other Saturday and once prepared a “Manzo Stufato” for our anniversary dinner 30+ years ago. But otherwise, he really doesn’t cook. Still, armed with ignorance and enthusiasm, he tackled this very special cake.
Thanks to some on-the-sly Amazon shopping, he was able to get all the needed ingredients, which included candied violets and rose petals as well as gold leaf flakes. Although I have tried Goldschläger schnapps, which has gold leaf in it, I had never tasted candied flowers before. I was amazed that they really had a “flower” flavor! Violet is my favorite.
We work from home, so he was popping in and out of the kitchen all day during the (many!) hours it took to follow this extremely involved recipe. It took time to stew the dried fruit in rum, to bake the cake, to cool the ganache, and so on. Also, an impressive number of bowls was needed for separating eggs, mixing dry ingredients, and melting chocolate. Not having the right sized pan, he had to adjust the time and temperature, and since there was no parchment in the house, he wound up using a turkey-cooking bag, which worked out just fine.
The hubs learned some pretty advanced techniques for a pancake flipper, such as how to whip “stiff peaks” into egg whites and how to use a pastry bag for icing. In fact, he really enjoyed icing the cake, which, he said, was no different than caulking.
The final product was beautiful and delicious and he was justifiably proud of his accomplishment. We packaged some slices to share with family is a socially-distanced way and are doling out the remainder to enjoy at home with some really strong coffee to offset the richness.
Once I emerge from this chocolate coma, I will be attacking my manuscript with renewed vigor and get this thing finished up already. Thanks, Sweetie, for the morale booster!