Celebrate Queen of Crime with Delicious Death Cake
On September 15th we celebrate Agatha Christie’s 120th birthday and the folks at AgathaChristie.com have an interesting way to remember the author. With their own interpretation of the deadly cake that Miss Blacklock used as a murder weapon in Christie’s 1950 novel A Murder is Announced. The recipe was developed by none other than, former actress turned queen of cakes, Jane Asher.
This is the first time the recipe has been officially created and Jane Asher describes the cake as follows, ‘It has an intense, forbidding dark Belgian chocolate centre which is lifted by the unexpected sharp zing of its brandy-soaked cherry and ginger filling. The glorious assault on the senses doesn’t end there: the cake is decorated with flecks of pure gold, sprinklings of crystallised rose and violet petals, and swirls of ganache piping. This paragon of a cake is as beautiful to look at as it is delicious – and deadly? – to eat.’
Jane based her recipe on the original ingredients mentioned in the book: a tin of butter sent from America, some raisins saved for Christmas, ‘a slab of chocolate’ and ‘a pound of sugar’.
If you want to bake the cake yourself we’ve found the recipe from AgathaChristie.com and it sounds as good as Agatha Christie described it.
These English people with their cakes that tastes of sand, never never, will they have tasted such a cake. Delicious, they will say – delicious –’
Her face clouded again.
‘Mr Patrick. He called it Delicious Death. My cake! I will not have my cake called that!’
‘It was a compliment really,’ said Miss Blacklock. ‘He meant it was worth dying to eat such a cake.’
175g dark chocolate drops (50-55% cocoa solids)
100g softened or spreadable butter
5 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
100g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
For the filling
150ml rum, brandy or orange juice
55g soft dark brown sugar
6-8 glace cherries
4-6 pieces crystallized ginger
1 tsp lemon juice
For the decoration
175g dark chocolate drops
150ml double cream
2 tsps apricot jam
10g crystallized violet petals
10g crystallized rose petals
1 small pt of gold leaf
Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC, (300ºF, 135ºC fan assisted). Grease an 8” deep cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment or silicone.
Prepare the filling: in a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and stir over heat until the mixture is bubbling. Allow to simmer gently, while stirring, for at least 2 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thickened. Allow to cool.
In a small heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate drops over simmering water or in a microwave, being careful not to let it overheat. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until very pale and fluffy. Separate the eggs, setting aside the whites in a large mixing bowl, and, one by one, add 4 of the yolks to the butter/sugar mix, beating well between each one.
Add the melted chocolate and fold in carefully, then stir in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the ground almonds and baking powder, then stir them into the cake mix.
Whisk the egg whites until peaked and stiff, then fold gently into the chocolate cake mix.
Spoon the mix into the prepared cake tin, levelling the top, and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 55-65 minutes, or until firm and well risen. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out on to a rack to cool completely.
Using a serrated knife, slice the cake in half horizontally. Spread the cooled fruit filling onto one half and sandwich the two halves back together.
To decorate: put the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and melt them together over simmering water or in a microwave. Spread the cake all over with warmed apricot jam and place on a rack over a baking tray. Keeping back a couple of tablespoonfuls, pour the icing over the whole cake, making sure it covers the top and the sides completely, scooping up the excess from the tray with a palette knife as necessary. Add any surplus to the kept back icing. Carefully transfer the cake to a 10” cake board or pretty plate.
Once the reserved icing is firm enough to pipe, place it in a piping bag with no. 8 star nozzle and pipe a scrolling line around the top and bottom edges of the cake. Leave for 2-3 hours, to set.
Place the violet and rose petals into a plastic bag and crush them into small flakes. Sprinkle these liberally around the chocolate scrolls. Finally, with a cocktail stick, pull off some small flakes of gold leaf and gently add them to the top of the cake.
AGATHA CHRISTIE and DELICIOUS DEATH are registered trade marks of Agatha Christie Limited (a Chorion Limited company). All rights reserved.