Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker
Death by Cupcake 1
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
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