After you’ve engaged in a shopping frenzy at the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, located at 222 Baker Street, West London, Massachusetts, be sure and pop next door for afternoon tea at Mrs. Hudson’s.
Head baker Jayne Wilson does a marvellous job of crating the perfect, fully-traditional afternoon tea. You might even be lucky enough to get one of the special Sherlock tea pots and matching cups.
Occasionally, for a special occasion, Jayne is forced to reply on her business partner Gemma Doyle for help in the kitchen. And, occasionally, Gemma gets to enjoy the fruits of their labours.
Fiona placed a large teapot on the table as well as a small jug of milk, a sugar bowl, a plate of sliced lemon, and two cups and saucers. She dropped a mug of coffee in front of Kevin.
“What a beautiful tea set,” Linda said. The pot and cups matched: roses of pink and pale blue on fine white china trimmed with gold. “May I pour?”
“Go ahead.” I leaned back to allow Fiona to place the three-tiered silver tray in the center of the table along with pots of butter, strawberry jam straight from the kitchen of a West London woman, and proper clotted cream.
Ignoring any pretext of good manners, I snatched one of the cucumber sandwiches before my dining companions could get it. We’d also been served salmon, roast beef and arugula, and cream cheese with chives. The middle level of the tray held scones plump with raisins and on the top layer tiny perfect strawberry and lemon tarts nestled beside miniature coconut cupcakes piled high with buttercream icing.
“I try to have at least one scene involving afternoon tea in each of my books,” the author said. “It gives Desdemona and Sherlock a chance to get together and talk over what they’ve learned.”
I refrained from mentioning that I couldn’t imagine Sherlock Holmes, man of action, pipe tobacco and lover of a seven percent solution, enjoying a cream tea.
Body on Baker Street, by Vicki Delany
Mrs. Hudson’s Coconut Cupcakes
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites
- 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups large-flake unsweetened coconut
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Pulse shredded coconut in a food processor until finely ground, and whisk into flour mixture.
- With and electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in whole eggs, whites and vanilla, scrapping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of coconut milk, and beating until combined after each.
- Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling eat three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; turn out cupcakes onto wire racks and let cool completely. cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature , or freeze up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
- To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread a generous dome of icing onto each cupcake, and, if desired, garnish with flaked coconut. Store at room temperature until ready to serve.
Icing: Use your favourite buttercream vanilla icing. I like to use a splash of coconut milk rather than plain milk. If you don’t normally add milk to your icing, you can cut down slightly on the butter and replace with coconut milk.
Gemma Doyle and Jayne Wilson are busy managing the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Baker Street and adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room in anticipation of the store’s upcoming book signing with the illustrious Renalta Van Markoff, author of the controversial Hudson and Holmes mystery series. But during the author Q&A session, dedicated Sherlockian Donald Morris verbally attacks Renalta and her series for disgracing Sherlock’s legacy, only to be publicly humiliated when the author triumphantly lashes back and gains the upper hand. That is until Renalta collapses on the table—dead.
Donald insists he didn’t do it and pleads to his friends to clear his name. Fortunately, Gemma and Jayne have no shortage of suspects between author’s bullied personal assistant, her frustrated publicist, the hapless publisher, a handsome rare book dealer, an obsessively rabid fan, and a world of other Sherlock enthusiasts with strong objections to Renalta’s depiction of the Great Detective. It’s up to the shrewd sleuthing duo to eliminate the impossible and deduce the truth before the West London police arrest an innocent man in Body on Baker Street, the second Sherlock Homes Bookshop mystery perfect for fans of Miranda James and Kate Carlisle.
Mystery Cozy [Crooked Lane Books, On Sale: September 12, 2017, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781683312994 / eISBN: 9781683313007]
About Vicki Delany
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers, author of more than twenty-five crime novels, including standalone Gothic thrillers, the Constable Molly Smith series, and the Year Round Christmas Mysteries. Under the pen name Eva Gates she writes the Lighthouse Library cozy series from Penguin.
Her latest is Body on Baker Street, the second in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series from Crooked Lane (Sept 12, 2017).
Visit Vicki at www.vickidelany.com. Facebook: Vicki Delany & Eva Gates (evagatesauthor) and twitter: @vickidelany and @evagatesauthor