Murder is A Piece of Cake
A Christilisa Cozy Mystery Review
Welcome back to another review in The Baker Street Mystery Series.
We find ourselves back in New Bison, Michigan with our girl, Madison Montgomery, aka, Maddy.
She's been in New Bison for three months after her fiance dumped her at the altar during her Live Streamed wedding.
She was saved from staying in LA by her Great Aunt Octavia who left her a bakery, house, and a 250-pound English Mastiff named Baby.
Upon making the rash decision to up and move to this small town, she gets thrust into a murder mystery, with someone being killed in her bakery.
With some new found friends, she solves the mystery l, almost too late as she was cornered by the killer who shot Baby and Maddy's new boo, Dr. Michael Portman.
In this new mystery, Maddy is met with another murder, this time she and her friend, April, the sheriff, are named as suspects in the case.
Why? Because a multi millionaire investor jerk decides he wants to take everything that she has grown to love since she decided to stay in New Bison.
Why does he target her? You'll have to read the book to find out.
Besides solving murders, Maddy is busy baking and running a business. One of her top sellers is Great Aunt Octavia's Chocolate Soul Cake.
I had the pleasure of trying it out myself and it did not disappoint.
I made homemade butter and buttermilk(!) for the first time and used the buttermilk in the cake.
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Want to make your own butter and buttermilk? Just take a container with a tight seal—I used a rice container—add a pint of super cold heavy whipping cream and shake, shake, shake. I mean keep shaking until it becomes whipped cream and then keep shaking until you see liquid and chunks of butter. Use a mesh strainer to squeeze all of the buttermilk out of the butter. Boom! Fresh butter and buttermilk. It took about 20 to 30 minutes of shaking.
If you are not a fan of making buttermilk, I love the powder verison. I never need as much buttermilk as I purchase so the powder allows for me to always have buttermilk on hand without the worry of it going bad.
My version didn't have frosting because I fell asleep and woke up at 4am to munch on the cake sanse frosting. Once that happened, ya girl decided the frosting was not going to be made.
Before I get to the recipe, (yes, y'all will get the recipe for the cake and frosting–not my recipe. You can thank Valerie Burns, the author of the series for this delicious recipe. You can even give it a try for Fourth of July.) Let's talk about Murder is A Piece of Cake and my thoughts.
I have more questions than answers of who killed whom. Valerie is pulling us in for the long game and I am here for it.
This time around, the story didn't pull me in as quickly as the first. Probably because the first couple of chapters includes a lot of recaps while introducing new information.
When it comes to most second books in a series, the story is not as developed due to the quick turnaround time. I find that this book falls into that trap but it is still an intriguing story.
The fashion designer drops in this book are top tier. I realize I know nothing about fashion when I have to look up the type of shoes Maddy is wearing– Pyer Moss Sculpts. There was one name drop I did know, Sergio Hudson. I love his classic, timeless designs.
This fashion knowledge makes this cozy relevant and authentic.
The last thing I will mention is the fact that there is not one, but two people in this story who are married to grade A jerkfaces. And, they are out here running these streets still married but living their best single life. No judgement here because they have a good reason to be outside. (This is meant to be vague because this detail is important to the story.)
Recipe from Murder is A Piece of Cake by Valerie Burns
Great-Aunt Octavia’s Chocolate Soul Cake
2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup coffee (if you’re feeling brave, try espresso)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup corn oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the frosting
6 ounces coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
1 cup butter
2 cups confectioner sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. FOR THE CAKE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray, two 9-inch cake pans. Then line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Whisk together the eggs, coffee, milk, oil, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. (The batter will be runny.)
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for about 27–32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
5. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then remove the cakes from their pans and cool completely on a greased wire rack before frosting.
6. FOR THE FROSTING: Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
7. Beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy (about 2–3 minutes).
I hope y’all enjoy the recipe and enjoy reading Murder is A Piece of Cake by Valerie Burns. It’s avaliable in stores now! This Fourth of July holiday is the perfect time to bake and read. :)