Just Giving – Writing Desks

We are lucky to have been born into a time and a place where we have food, shelter, water and a decent education. Not everyone has these rights. My daughter and I are sponsoring a little girl called Mavellous who is eight-years-old.

Mavellous lives in Zambia and is the youngest of eight children. Every morning she has to walk five miles a day to fetch clean water. There are 100 children in her class and she has to share a desk with seven other children. We asked Action Aid what Mavellous’s school needed most and they said writing desks: forty of them at £30 each.

Since, as you’ve probably gathered, we like baking, my daughter and I have started pop-up cake sales to raise the money to buy writing desks. I’m sorry we can’t share our cakes with you (although maybe if you head over to the south-west…!) but if you’d like to contribute, or simply cheer us along, here’s our Just Giving page.

 

Cake!

 

There are 25 different kinds of cake name-checked in My Mother’s Secret, from Daim cake bought over the counter in Ikea, to scones with cream and jam, and lavender shortbread, served with Earl Grey from Tyntesfield’s National Trust tea shop, to chocolate-orange brownies and courgette cake decorated with a cream-cheese frosting and scattered with rose petals and rosemary flowers, made by my protagonist, Emma Taylor. 

The chocolate cake doesn’t rise, so Harry and I rescue it by soaking it with an espresso-rum syrup and layering it in tiers with salted-caramel butter cream.

Emma Taylor

It’s an odd juxtaposition: cake and crime. Emma is a baker, working in Kate’s. Although she spends her days in what seems the most secure and seductively comforting of occupations – baking cakes and sourdough bread – Emma is anxious and nervous, hiding a terrible secret from her family and her friends. Whilst she rises around 4 a.m. to feed the yeast, her teenage daughter, Stella, is spying on her, determined to find out what her mother’s secret is. Meanwhile, a young student, Lizzie Bradshaw, out of her comfort zone in Leeds city centre, witnesses a shocking crime that will have repercussions for the rest of her life.

‘She doesn’t like alcohol in cakes. That’s Katie’s thing. And she isn’t into gluten-free or, you know, polenta. She doesn’t think it’s right for cake. Anyway, it’s what poor people eat.’ My dad winces, in spite of his best Dr Seuss face. ‘In developing countries like Mexico, I mean. You have to be middle-class to afford it here.’

Stella Taylor

The cakes – from the blackberry muffins, to the Black-forest gateau – are, of course, symbols of security, but in a thriller, nowhere, least of all the places where we live and work, are safe.

‘It sounds like something a pirate would eat.’ 

Paul Bradshaw

Whilst I was researching this novel, I had to delve into organised crime on the one hand, and on the other, hang out in a bakery (Hart’s Bakery in Bristol, which is the one Kate’s is based on) learning how to make croissants and discovering what on earth a friand is. Fortunately, I love baking anyhow so I found it a wonderful indulgence and a relief to write about cake in between the rather more chilling happenings in My Mother’s Secret. 

‘She’d like a Victoria sponge with lots of cream and some fruit. Raspberries and jam. Something simple.’ 

He looks disappointed. I can see he wanted a statement of a cake. Like his love. 

Stella Taylor

Unlike Emma, though, I don’t eat gluten and try not to consume sugar, so cake, in my real life, is an infrequent treat, usually made with polenta or gluten-free flour and sweetened with dates. Emma would not approve.

 

What are your favourite cakes? Do you have any favourites in My Mother’s Secret?

Thank you to Steph Rothwell, who first published this blog.

 

 

Bone by Bone Book Launch

BONE BY BONE BOOK LAUNCH

category_diary80It’s less than a month until Bone by Bone is published! And if you’re in Bristol, do come to the book launch.

It’s going to be at Waterstones, The Galleries at 7pm, Friday 4 March. I’m delighted we’re going to serve prosecco and Wiper and True beer provided by our local vintner, Grape and Grind, plus a Bone by Bone inspired cake by cake artist Tamarind Galliford of Ahh Toots! based in St Nicholas’ Market. My friend, Ingrid Bates, is donating a couple of bottles of her delicious rosé from her own vineyard (how cool is that!) Dunleavy Vineyards, for a lucky few to sample!

 

Hope to see you there!

 

 

Image 01-02-2016 at 15.30