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Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Friday, 10 September 2010 16:35 UK
An Agatha Christie birthday cake to die for
By Jemima Laing
BBC Devon

Delicious Death chocolate cake: Charlie Richards
Delicious Death is featured in A Murder Is Announced

A chocolate cake with a difference will be on the menu at Agatha Christie's Devon home to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the writer's birth.

Jane Asher has created a chocolatey tribute to Christie using The Delicious Death recipe in Christie's 50th novel A Murder Is Announced.

The cake will be served at Greenway in Devon throughout Agatha Christie Week which runs from 12-19 September 2010.

Christie was born in Torquay on 15 September 1890.

Lovers of crime fiction and chocolate cake can also attempt to make the cake themselves by using the recipe at the bottom of this page.

In the novel, first published in 1950, the cake is the victim's last supper before she is poisoned.

Agatha Christie (National Trust)
Agatha Christie at home at Greenway House

Baked by Miss Blacklock's housekeeper, Mitzi - the cake is dubbed Delicious Death because it is so rich.

It becomes an apt name when Dora Bunner is found dead in her bed after her birthday tea.

This is the first time the recipe has been officially created and Jane Asher describes it as having "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."

Greenway House
The cake will be on the menu at Greenway

Jane - who has appeared in numerous Christie productions on television - 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.

"I was delighted when I was approached to bring a cake from one of her books to life," said Jane.

"I think we've done her proud and that she'd be thrilled with the taste and texture of Delicious Death: a cake that is worthy of the sensuous and evocative description in the original story."

There will be chances to taste the cake throughout the sixth Agatha Christie Festival which runs from 12 to 19 September 2010 with a number of events in Torquay.

As well as being available at Greenway and the opening of the Torquay festival it will be on the menu at Brown's Hotel in Mayfair - said to be the inspiration for At Bertram's Hotel.

As part of celebrations to mark the writer's 120th anniversary BBC Archive has released a small collection of radio and television items in tribute to Christie - the world's most successful crime writer.

Log on to the BBC Archive website to find out more.


Recipe for Agatha Christie's Delicious Death

Ingredients:

175g dark chocolate drops (50-55% cocoa solids)
100g softened or spreadable butter
100g golden caster sugar
5 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
100g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder

For the filling:
150ml rum, brandy or orange juice
150g raisins
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 (50-55% cocoa solids)
150ml double cream
2 tsps apricot jam
10g crystallized violet petals
10g crystallized rose petals
1 small pt of gold leaf.

Method

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 two 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 four 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 two-three 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.




SEE ALSO
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12 Aug 10 |  People & Places
Greenway: Murder by Candlelight
07 Apr 10 |  Arts & Culture
Mystery over killed-off event
19 Oct 09 |  People & Places
Greenway success is no mystery
02 Sep 09 |  People & Places

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