SIFTING THROUGH CLUES, the eighth book in the Cook Book Nook Mystery series by Daryl Wood Gerber, captures the spirit of all that is great about cozy mysteries. An engaging, amateur sleuth with a crime for her to solve; memorable characters; delightful settings; and mouth-watering food! The charming town of Crystal Cove, California is hosting the Book Club Bonanza week-long event and the protagonist, Jenna Hart, is preparing all sorts of displays, crafts, and food at her shop, the Cookbook Nook and Café. As so often happens when I’ve read the Cook Book Nook mysteries in the past, I end up having a list of books mentioned in the story that I want to buy. I love how Ms. Gerber weaves appropriate titles into the theme of events happening in the town. Jenna is surrounded by a good cast of family and friends and I enjoy how the author has not only developed the protagonist, but the supporting characters as well.
When a member of Jenna’s Mystery Maven book club is found murdered during their progressive dinner, everyone looks to Jenna to help solve it. The town’s Chief of Police, Cinnamon, happens to be Jenna’s good friend but Cinnamon doesn’t want her help, causing a strain on the friendship. But as Jenna hears people talk, she can’t help but start piecing the puzzle together and getting involved. There were plenty of suspects to keep me guessing with clever twists to the plot. The author provides an exciting conclusion and the wrap-up is heartwarming, bringing the story of family and friendship full circle.
All sorts of yummy goodies come out of the kitchen of the Cookbook Nook’s café and the author includes multiple recipes at the back of the book, both sweet and savory, and they all sound fantastic! Lemon is a favorite flavor in my family and I was drawn to the recipe for Lemon Teacakes, especially since we’ve had a bumper crop of lemons this year. I like that the batter is baked in small or mini loaf pans, so that this delectable treat can easily be shared. Quite some time ago I purchased a mini bundt cake pan which I (finally) used with some of the batter. I loved how elegant they turned out, but the mini loaf pans worked just as well. Lemon Tea Cakes have layers of bright, sunny flavor thanks to plenty of lemon juice and zest used in the sweet quick bread batter, glaze, and frosting. Summer in a dessert!
Book clubs from all over have descended on Crystal Cove to celebrate the library’s Book Club Bonanza week, and Jenna Hart has packed the Cookbook Nook with juicy reads and tasty cookbooks. But she’s most excited about spending an evening with the Mystery Mavens and their moveable feast, when they will go from house to house to share different culinary treats and discuss the whodunit they’re all reading. It’s all good food and fun for the savvy armchair detectives, until one of the members of the group is found murdered at the last stop on the tour.
As if that weren’t enough to spoil her appetite, Jenna discovers that all the evidence points to her friend Pepper as being the guilty party. And with Pepper’s chief-of-police daughter too close to the case to be impartial, Jenna knows she’ll have to step in to help clear her friend’s name before a bitter injustice sends her to jail. Sifting through the clues, Jenna unearths any number of possible culprits, but she’ll have to cook up a new way to catch the killer before Pepper’s goose is cooked . . .
A special thanks to Daryl Wood Gerber for providing a winner with their choice of one of the following books: Final Sentence; Inherit the Word; Stirring the Plot; Fudging the Books; Grilling the Subject; Pressing the Issue; Wreath Between the Lines. Contest ends Sunday, April 28, 2019 at 11:59 pm PST and is limited to U.S. residents. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
From Jenna: As promised by Sweet Pea Bakery, the food truck that was serving high tea near Azure Park, I found this recipe on its website. It is moist and delicious and would make lovely gifts, wrapped in cellophane bags and ribbons. You can use small or mini loaf pans. If using the latter, be sure you reduce the baking time.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons lemon zest, approximately 3 - 4 lemons
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, no pulp, no seeds
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice, no pulp, no seeds
- 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 - 4 tablespoons lemon juice, no pulp, no seeds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Spray 5 - 6 small loaf pans or 10 - 12 mini loaf pans with nonstick oil.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and stir well to let the lemon oil mix with the sugar.
Cream the butter and lemon/sugar mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat to combine.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another small bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla
Add half of the flour mixture to the eggs/lemon/sugar mixture and then add half of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat and beat until smooth.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans, filling about 2/3 full.
Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Reduce baking time if using mini loaf pans.
When the cakes are done, remove from oven and let cool for about 15 - 20 minutes before removing from pan.
Meanwhile, while the cake is cooling, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to simmer and cook until the syrup thickens, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
After turning the cakes out of their pans, set on a tray lined with parchment paper and poke holes in the bottom of the cakes using a skewer. Then drizzle half of the syrup over the holes. Turn the cakes over and drizzle the remaining syrup over the tops of the cakes. Smooth with the back of a spoon. Let cool.
While the cakes cool completely, make the frosting. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice to make a smooth but thin frosting. Add more lemon juice or water, if necessary. Pour the frosting over the tops of the cakes and let the frosting firm up. Serve immediately or cool in the refrigerator.
These cake do well in the freezer. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in freezer bags.
Yield: 5 - 6 small loaf cakes or 10 - 12 mini loaf cakes
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I was provided an advance copy with the hopes I would review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.