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May 25, 2016

Takeover: D.E. Haggerty + Baking Tips & a Skinny Baker

Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker
Death by Cupcake 1
Cozy Mystery
April 11, 2016

A mystery with a heap of laughs, a generous portion of romance, and just a smidgeon of suspense.

Callie’s life is rather awesome. She owns a successful bakery and teaches German literature at the local university. There’s just one tiny problem. She has no self-confidence when it comes to her body. And then there’s the little matter of her being accused of murdering her pole dancing instructor. There’s no way Callie’s going to risk losing her teaching position and thus she embarks, with her best baker bud Anna, on a journey to discover the real killer. Between stripper auditions and a detective who insists Callie is the woman of his dreams, it’s a roller coaster adventure. Cupcakes not included.

Nom. I love cupcakes although I have to admit, I'm not the best baker. Good thing Callie's around to give me, and you, tips... or something to that effect.


Callie’s Baking Tips
by D.E. Haggerty


Let me just confess from the very beginning that I’m not a baker. Not really. I teach German Literature at the local university. But I also own a bakery, Callie’s Cakes. Through some unexpected and frankly heartbreaking events while I was in high school, I ended up broke and alone before entering college. Of course, I didn’t have any work experience, either, but Gretchen – the former owner of the bakery – gave me a job anyway. I worked at Gretchen’s bakery all through college and grad school until Gretchen passed away. No one was more shocked than me when Gretchen left the place to me.

That was a bit of a long-winded explanation of why my baking tips are more about how not to screw up than anything else. My best friend, Anna, is the primary baker of Callie’s Cakes, but she insists on making sure I can do some baking as well. That pink-haired pixie of a baker can be pretty stubborn when she wants to be.

  1. Pre-heat the oven. Anna has nearly slapped my hand off when I’ve tried to put cupcakes in the oven to bake before the oven reaches the proper temperature. But a feisty bakery chef is not the only reason to pre-heat the oven. Foods will cook unevenly in a cold oven and no one likes sloppy cupcakes. There’s also something about yeast, baking soda, and baking powder needing heat to react. Blah, blah, blah. I have no clue. I’m not a physicist. Trust me. Pre-heat the darn oven already.
  2. Keep the oven door shut. Do not open the over door before the cake, cookies, or whatever has started to set. It’s tempting, I know. Man, do I know. But if you open the oven door too early, you risk having an undercooked or unevenly baked cake. I’m totally okay with eating raw cookie dough but an undercooked cake? Yuck! Expert tip: a cake usually starts to set around the 20-minute mark.
  3. Chill the cookie dough. If you want perfectly shaped cookies (and who doesn’t?), cut from chilled dough. Anna claims the edges of the cookies will remain crisp during baking. I nod and follow her instructions. Trust me you don’t want to argue with a pink-haired pixie. Expert tip: Triple chill – chill dough before rolling, chill dough after rolling and chill the cookie cutouts before baking. Chill, chill, chill.
  4. Don’t forget your turkey baster. Are you still separating egg whites from the yolk using grandma’s method of tipping yolks back and forth between the shells? Just don’t. Trust me here. Use the rubber stop at the end of your turkey baster to suck up the yolks from the whites. Don’t have a turkey baster? Go. Buy. One. Like now. You can get one for as little as $5 and isn’t perfect pastry worth way more than that?
  5. Measure, measure and then measure again. Apparently, baking is not only an art but is based on science as well. While it’s okay to fudge around with ingredients when cooking, not being precise while baking will show in the final product. Frosting can hide a lot of mistakes, but it’s not a miracle medium. How hard is it to just measure the ingredients first?
  6. Don’t go all crazy mixing the dough. So this one time I was maybe just a teensy weensy bit annoyed with my ex-boyfriend. The man called me fat! I’m pretty sure I’m allowed to be mad – whether it’s true or not. Turns out that when you knead dough like you want to kill it, the scones will turn out all chewy and tough. Apparently, with light baking, you’re supposed to mix until the flour is incorporated and then stop. If you can’t do that, there’s a kickboxing class I can recommend.

I’m sure Anna can give you some great tips and tricks of the trades, but like I said, I’m really just a German Lit teacher who somehow ended up owning a bakery. I much prefer the whole eating part of the bakery to the actual baking.





Anna starts to fiddle with the lock, but it’s pretty clear she has no idea what she’s doing. My heart nearly jumps out of my chest when I hear the door behind me open. “What are you doing?”
I turn to stare at the man yelling at us and nearly fall down the stairs in surprise. He’s tall, way taller than Ben, although the kitten heels he’s wearing probably add several inches to his already impressive height. He’s wearing a pink flowered silk robe and his hair is in a hair net. Is that mascara he’s wearing?
I start to apologize for bothering him and take the first step down the stairs, but Anna interrupts my escape attempt.
“Oh thank goodness, you’re home.” She smiles up at him and flutters her lashes. “We’re in a bit of a jam.”
The neighbor crosses his arms over his chest causing the robe to drape open. His chest is completely hairless. I look down to see he’s wearing woman’s underwear. And not just some simple underwear from the local department store. This is the good silk and lace stuff. That can’t be cheap.
“Richard Wagner reportedly liked to wear women’s underwear made of silk and satin.” I can’t seem to help myself from blurting out random facts when I’m nervous. 
He ignores me and demands, “What’s going on?” in a voice that makes it clear that although he may enjoy wearing woman’s clothing, he’s definitely a man who won’t be putting up with silly females.
“We’re at our wit’s end,” Anna says as she saunters up to him. Never one to acknowledge another’s personal space, she’s nearly rubbing up against him. With their difference in height, Anna’s chest is nearly aligned with the neighbor’s manly parts. I start to worry about the effect, if any, having Anna’s female attributes in such close quarters will have on the man’s underwear. “We’re trying to notify all of Dolly’s friends about the funeral, but those stupid police took her phone. We have no idea how to find her friends now.”
The man leans away from Anna and relaxes a tiny bit. “You’re friends of Dolly? I haven’t seen you around here before.”
“We know her from work,” I pipe up.
He raises an eyebrow at me and then proceeds to very obviously check out my assets. A smile lights up his face. “Yeah, I can see you working at Club Bristol.” He looks down at Anna and smirks. “But this little pink-haired one isn’t exactly the type.”
I nearly swallow my tongue and manage to stop myself from asking what Club Bristol is. He needs to think we work there as he obviously doesn’t know about Dolly’s job as a pole dancing instructor. Anna is much quicker on the uptake than me. “I work behind the scenes,” she says. “You know costume design and that sort of thing.” Does she actually know what Club Bristol is? Or is she guessing?
The neighbor nods as if it makes sense. I can only hope it does. “Sorry, I can’t help you. I don’t have a key to Dolly’s place.” He scoots back into his apartment. “I need to get some sleep. I had a late shift last night.” I wonder what kind of work he does. “Good luck.” And with that, he shuts his door, and I hear the lock click as well.







I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom's Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn't flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage every once in a while to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. Another job change, this time from lawyer to B&B owner and I was again fed up and ready to scream I quit, which is incredibly difficult when you own the business. Thus, I shut the B&B during the week and in the off-season and started writing. Several books later I find myself in Istanbul writing full-time.


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31 comments:

  1. Oh how interesting that she owns a bakery but really isn't a baker! I love that she has a best friend that helps her run it and bakes for her. ;)

    What a great guest post and I had to LOL at some of the tips. :P

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I love stories where the characters end up somewhere unexpected (like a bakery) but really that may just be where they belong. THanks for stopping by.

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  2. Great advices there! It sounds like an interesting one. Thanks for the post!

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    1. It's definitely the advice I needed to hear before starting to back for my B&B everyday! Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Great tips. I love baking and eating all those baked goods. lol The easiest way to separate eggs is to put the egg in your hand and let the white fall through your fingers. lol

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    1. Really? I've never heard that. Gotta admire a baker willing to get her hands dirty.

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  4. I enjoyed the post and always enjoy reading something that gives me a smile early in the morning. You have made me hungry, so I'm going for breakfast. :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. Smiling is important! Especially first thing in the morning. Well, second thing really. Coffee is the first thing, right? Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. Okay, this book sounds like a lot of fun. I'm all smiles reading that tiny synopsis! Lol.

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    1. I hope reading the book is just as fun as the synopsis. I like my murders with a big side of laughter and maybe a helping of romance as well

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  6. Haha, yes, this sounds all sorts of fun. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  7. You had me at "How NOT to screw up" because, hello! Fire starter here.

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    1. I cracked up reading your comment. Unfortunately, I was a big party and no one could understand why I was laughing :-)

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  8. No turkey baster here, an empty plastic water bottle works well though :D Loved the other tips, thanks!

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    1. Never thought to use an empty plastic water bottle. I live where it's hot, hot, hot and the water is undrinkable so we have a water cooler. I'm still waiting for one of the delivery guys to show up looking like the guys in the Diet Coke commercials. Still waiting...

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  9. What fun! Thanks for sharing baking tips, Callie! I'm not a pastry chef or anything but I do enjoy baking. :) And I'd never heard about using a turkey baster. I'll give that a whirl. :D

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    1. Baking is fun but the eating is divine, right? Thanks for stopping by.

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  10. LOL! I love cooking tips like this. I don't like to cook but I do appreciate the tips with the snark! :D So me. ;)

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    1. IF you like snark, stick with me! Thanks for stopping by

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  11. Excellent tips - though I'm not sure how you would roll out the cookie dough if it's frozen?? I'm not a great baker either, but I am quite good with pies :) And the occasional cupcake - angel meal and carrot being my son's faves :) And now I'm so *very* curious about this author's work! Lovely guest post

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    1. OH gosh. I wish I was good with pies. Someday I'm going to figure out how to make the perfect pie crust. Someday...

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  12. oh my goodness...this sounds fun!! The title made me giggle. Great post.

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  13. This sounds so fun. I love baking, though it doesn't always turn out right.

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    1. I know, right? I think I screw up more than not.

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  14. Hey friends, thanks for stopping by while I was a way.
    Dena - thanks for moderating the comments! Muah! You da best girl!

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    1. Thanks for having me. I hope you had a great holiday!!!

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