Themed Cake for our Hercule Poirot's Christmas Book Club Party
I am a sucker for British mysteries so then why shouldn't the queen of crime -Agatha Christie enjoy the numero uno position in my beloved authors' list. Her being there has much to do with her Belgian detective - Hercule Poirot and his insistence on using those little grey cells. His waxy mustache might also have a part to play too, Anyway, after a year of some heavy reading, when our book club decided on Hercule Poirot's Christmas as our December read, I decided that our Belgian detective not only deserved a cake of his own but a whole party dedicated to him. As such, our book club meeting for that month turned into a Book Club Christmas Mystery Party.
That was the event invite that was sent to the members and the response was enthusiastic, a fact not surprising considering majority of them share my love for the somewhat vain Belgian detective. Most of us have grown up reading Christie and share a fondness for her which got us into the right spirit of things and planning. If you have been unaware before , let me again declare that we all are as passionate about food as we are about books !! Our Monthly meetings are notorious for being grand feasts with each member trying to outdo the other with their culinary skills. Take a look at our Christmas book club party menu as "evidence".
Having a baking blog means that I get to bake the book club meeting cake a lot and this time was no exception either. I had my heart set on making a Poirot themed cake and a quick Pinterest search gave me the creative inspiration for the same. Layered chocolate sponge it was with layers of cherry filling and soaked in the same liquor. The crumb coat for the same was chocolate praline buttercream. I was scared that the texture of the buttercream might hamper the smoothness of the fondant layer but luckily that proved not to be a case. After giving the crumb coating a rest in the freezer, it was time for covering it up with fondant. I used a store bought one which I rolled on my kitchen counter making sure to dust the surface with cornstarch. Wrapping it around the cake required skill but the smoother did its job and the result was flawless. Turning it into Poirot was a task accomplished by a black edible marker. To do justice to the mustache required a steady hand but he hat, and the monocle were a piece of cake :-) For the bow, I decided to use a wide gold ribbon which added a festive look to the cake. It also complemented the table centerpiece, which was festive baubles placed in glass jars.
The Hercule Poirot cake was not the spotlight of our meeting! It was the man himself - yes, you did read it correctly. The famous detective paid us a visit and enthralled our book club ladies with his wit and charming mannerism. Okay, admission time. It was actually my husband whom I had roped in to play Poirot. Look at the picture underneath and tell me if I was not correct in doing so. Thank you, now you guys get it. Not only he has an uncanny resemblance to the man in question but also plays him to the hilt complete with the famous walk and heavy accent. As regards your next question, he is not up for any more book club appearances as he told me himself in no uncertain terms. You see the mustache was hard to take off and you can only humor your wife so many times in a year.
I keep on mentioning about our book club party but how about the actual book? For those who missed the title and the earlier mention, the book in question was Hercule Poirot's Christmas. No brainer selection for that particular time of the year. We all needed a cozy mystery yet one stimulating enough to tickle our brain cells. My thoughts if you were inclined to ask? - It read like a classic whodunit in the characteristic Christie style and the identity of the murderer was not someone that could be guessed easily. But then it is always the case with her, she takes the least likely suspect and makes him/ her the murderer. This book was no exception and whatever clues were scattered throughout the text as regards the identity of the murdered eluded me. My only gripe with the book was that it lacked the Christmas spirit both in the plot as well as in the prose.
Coming to the mystery part of the party, our sun room served as the setting for the murder scene complete with "Crime Scene-Do Not Cross " tape. Our study table and a chair was toppled over and books were scattered over to give a general mayhem look to the room.Amidst all this were hidden the two clues just like in the book- a popped up balloon piece and a small wooden peg. The members took turns examining the crime scene in search of the clues.To make the detecting a tad bit difficult, the wooden peg was hidden inside the leg hole of the table. We also had a missing jewels mystery. My so fake diamond necklace was hidden in a cookie jar and the members were supposed to locate it. They might have had help from my daughter who is always eager to help out her book club aunties.
Done with detecting, the action moved to the dining room where all the culinary delights made by the members awaited us. So engrossed did we all become in this act that taking pictures fell down in priority and as such have only one pic to show of our culinary spread. Warned you guys the jury is still out whether our love for food matches the one we have for the written word. The punch was the first to go followed by the finger licking good shepherd's pie. Choosing between trifle ,cake, and Belgian truffles was taxing so most of us had all three :-)
By no means were we done for the evening. I had purchased a subscription of BritBox so that we could watch the BBC adaptation of our book . Warm freshly laundered blankets were laid on the couches to enjoy that experience . We all headed there but now before having a group pic taken of us all in Santa hats . We also had mustache props but they are conspicuous by their absence in the underneath pic.
It was a memorable evening spent in the company of my favorite sleuth and these ladies who have followed me enthusiastically on every new book adventure . Our friendships have strengthened with every new book journey we take together and the culinary treasures we sample discussing it in our monthly book club meeting. This end of the year meeting was a great ode to that journey all under the watchful eye of the greatest detective with the waxed mustache!