FRIDAY FEAST with Anna Campbell

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It’s always a joy to have Anna Campbell on Friday Feast. Not only is she wonderfully talented she’s a lovely lady and a very generous author.Anna Campbell 43970006

I call Anna my Romance Queen and while the title may be tongue in cheek, it’s not without genuine merit. Last month, Anna won five Australian Romance Readers Awards. Five! She’s also won or been a finalist in awards as prestigious as the Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year, Romantic Times Readers Choice Awards and the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards. And for four years running, Anna has been voted ARRA’s Favourite Australian Romance Author.

I bow to thee, my queen!

Anna’s latest release is as lush and emotional as all her others. Take a look.

 

THESE HAUNTED HEARTS:

 

A REGENCY GHOST ROMANCE

 

 

THH low resOn one fateful wedding day at Marston Hall in 1818, four linked destinies hover in the balance.

Josiah Aston, Earl of Stansfield, wakes to discover he’s seventy years dead and he alone can free his beloved wife Isabella’s tormented soul. But first he must convince her to trust him against all the evidence…

Lady Isabella Verney, beautiful and tempestuous, married the man of her dreams, only to die violently on her wedding day. Every clue points to Josiah as the murderer…

Is true love strong enough to defeat ancient malevolence forever?

Miles Hartley, Viscount Kendall, is society’s ideal catch, but what does that matter if he can’t convince Calista Aston that he loves her? When an age-old curse strikes, only by proving himself worthy of her faith can he save their happiness…

Lady Calista Aston, noted bluestocking, fears she loves Miles Hartley not wisely, but too well. On her wedding day, her doubts place her at evil’s mercy. When death and disaster loom, is it courage or mad folly to believe that Miles loves her in spite of all her faults?

On one fateful wedding day at Marston Hall in 1818, will the lovers emerge triumphant or will darkness conquer all?

 

 

Ooh, a ghost story. Right up my alley. I bet it’s right up yours too, so why not do some clickety-click buying while you’re here? Or read an excerpt and then buy. Haunted Hearts is available now direct from Amazon for your Kindle and Smashwords for all ereaders and tablets. It’s bargain priced too. Only $1-99, so no excuse for holding back. I haven’t.

Book buying complete? Excellent. Now all hail the queen!

 

Chinese Food at the Wedding?

 

Hi Cathryn! Thank you for having me as your guest at your Friday Feast! As you know, I love your blog and the Friday Feasts are the icing on the (wedding) cake.

Hmm, am I being deliberately obscure? I think I might be. Although I imagine Chinese people will look at that title and go, “Yeah, we have Chinese food at weddings. What’s so special about that?”

Let me make myself clearer!

I’ve got a new e-novella out right now, an extended version of a story that first appeared in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE in June last year. THESE HAUNTED HEARTS features two romances for the price of one, Calke Abbey bednot to mention a cursed Chinese bed based on the Great Bed at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. Like the bed in THH, this bed was an 18th century royal gift stored in pieces in the cellars of a stately home. Like the bed in THH, this bed is hung with priceless silk embroideries. Unlike the bed in THH, the Great Bed at Calke doesn’t curse any bride who sleeps in it to a violent death (or not as far as I know!).

As you can imagine, within the space of a novella, and with two couples to sort out, not to mention numerous baleful supernatural influences to vanquish, nobody really has time to sit around and nosh. But given that this story is based around two weddings, I thought I’d talk about wedding cakes today.

I’m actually un-Australian. I hate fruitcake. Which means Aussie wedding cake isn’t my favourite thing. On the other hand, some U.S. friends made me an American wedding cake when I visited in 2007. This is basically a butter cake with yummy butter icing. Yup, that’s the one for me. Until recently, I had no idea that American wedding cakes were different from the traditional English/Australian version. I thought Cathryn’s food-mad readers might be interested in seeing a recipe for one.

As a proviso, I’ve never made American wedding cake, but I found what looks like a good recipe on The Wedding Information Site. I’ve adapted this recipe to my own taste (meaning the Chinese bed has cursed any mentions of that abomination margarine to oblivion!).

You can keep the decorations on your American Wedding Cake simple by adding fresh or silk flowers. Or you can decorate it by adding twisting garlands of roses and leaves made from royal icing or sugar paste. This recipe will make three round or square cakes 28cm, 20cm and 12.5cm. This size will serve approximately 80 people depending on how you cut it.

 

American Wedding Cake

wedding cakes 2

Ingredients:

600g butter
600g of caster sugar
12 eggs
600g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1-2 tablespoons cold water
450-550g raspberry or apricot jam
Vanilla Butter Cream:

The secret to making a good buttercream frosting is to beat it long enough to incorporate and dissolve all the ingredients into the butter, creating a fluffy and creamy texture. Soften the butter to room temperature for at least 3 to 4 hours for best results. Don’t use melted butter as this just creates a sloppy mess.

2 cups of salted softened butter

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 cups of sifted icing sugar

12 tablespoons of heavy cream

Using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter until it becomes light and fluffy (can take over 5 minutes to achieve). Stop the mixer often to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add the vanilla extract and 1 cup of icing sugar and continue to beat for 2 minutes.

Alternately add the remaining icing sugar and 4 tablespoons of cream and beat very well.

Once you have the desired consistency, continue to beat the frosting for 5 minutes more until it is very fluffy.

As you use the frosting you may have to add the remaining 4 tablespoons of cream to keep the consistency smooth.

The Cake:

Grease and line three round or square deep cake tins 28cm, 20cm, 12.5cm.

Cream butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy and pale in colour (this can take up to 5 minutes or more of beating).

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, following each with a spoonful of flour.

Sift the remaining flour and fold into the mixture with water.

wedding cakes 3Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake in a moderate oven (180C). Allow about 40 minutes for the small tin, 1 hour 10 minutes for the middle size and about 1.5 hours for the larger cake, or until they are well risen and firm to the touch.

Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Split each of the cakes into three layers and sandwich back together with the jam.

Place the two smaller cakes onto thin silver boards to same size as the cake and the bottom tier on a lager silver cake board.

Brush off any loose crumbs from the cake. Use part of the butter cream icing to cover each cake.

Position the cakes on top of each other and smooth the butter cream as much as possible using a hot wet palette knife if necessary.

Decorate the cake as you wish with hand made decorations, silk or fresh flowers.

 

So are you a fan of wedding cakes? What sort of cake did you have at your wedding? Or if you’re not married, what sort of cake would you like? Can you convert me to the joys of margarine? Hmm, think I might know the answer to that one. I’ve got a download of THESE HAUNTED HEARTS: A REGENCY GHOST ROMANCE for someone who comments today!

 

You had me at that frosting, Anna. It’s as luscious as one of your books! And I am so, so with you on the butter front. Margarine is awful stuff and, as we all know, butter tastes better.

So get a-commenting, Feasters, and reveal your wedding cake stories. There’s a faaaabulous prize up for grabs!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 2nd April 2013. Open internationally. Whoop!

If you’d like to learn more about Anna her wonderful, wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter. Anna can also be found regularly blogging at Romance Bandits.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Cheryl who has won herself an ebook copy of Anna’s wonderful new novella, These Haunted Hearts. Thanks to all who took the time to comment. Hope to see you again soon.

48 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Anna Campbell

  1. AvatarMary M.

    Fruitcake? Yuck! I had no idea that was an Aussie wedding cake! Mine was a three tier proper butter cake with butter icing and yellow edible roses cascading down the cake. Each layer had a different filling, custard, chocolate and strawberry. Yum! Fruitcake is for passing around as an unwanted Christmas present that is never eaten, just regifted.

    1. Avatarannacampbell

      Hey, Mary, you’re a woman after my own heart. I REALLY don’t like fruitcake. My mother (so I’m told) made a really superior version of the beast and I still didn’t like it. Love the sound of your wedding cake. LOVE custard!

  2. AvatarCheryl

    Think I gained three pounds just from reading the recipe. 😉 I would love a copy of your book These Haunted Hearts: A Regency Ghost Romance. Thanks so mych for having this contest. I just love regency romance novels.

    1. Avatarannacampbell

      Cheryl, it sounds really decadent, doesn’t it? Actually the original recipe included apricot glazing as well as all the stuff I’ve listed which to me just seemed like gilding the already awfully fattening lily. Glad to hear you’re another Regency romance fan!

      1. Avatarannacampbell

        Thanks so much, Cathryn! Really made my morning when I got your email saying you’d loved the story. I had fun with the ghosts and the double love story.

  3. AvatarJulia David

    I had a very pretty 3 tier wedding cake with Spring flowers all over. We were married in September, but I had Spring flowers. I used to do cake decorating and have made several wedding cakes.

    1. Avatarannacampbell

      Julia, I had great fun looking for recipes and illustrations for this post. I think the American wedding cakes are SOOOO pretty! And I love the idea of fresh flowers. How cool that you used to do cake decorating. I’m hopeless with anything like this. I have a wonderful picture in my mind but it never quite comes out on the plate that way!

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Cake decorating is a wonderful skill, Julia. My godmother makes gorgeous ones but they take aaaaages.

        I didn’t even realise there was such a thing as an American wedding cake but I’m a fan now. Must be that butter icing…

        Thanks for visiting.

      2. Avatarannacampbell

        Cathryn, some time when we’re in each other’s vicinity, let’s try this recipe, although in smaller quantities. Not sure I want a cake for 80 although it might make us some new friends!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      It’s an absolute delight to have you on, Anna! You know I get seriously fan girl gushy over you and your books, so having on you is like butter icing on my fan cake!

  4. Avataranniewest

    Hi Cathryn, Hi Anna! Why aren’t I surprised that you’re discussing cakes, Ms Campbell? It’s the sort of thing I’d expect a romance writer to enjoy. Personally I love a good fruit cake – moist and rich. Yum. Our wedding cake was like that and looked very elegant with its sprays of flowers and delicate lace-like edging. I’d definitely go for that again – looks and taste were terrific.

    Good luck with ‘These Haunted Hearts’. It’s a corker of a read and great value at that price. Love the story of the bed as inspiration.

    1. Avatarannacampbell

      Thanks so much for saying you enjoyed THH, Annie! It was fun playing with ghosts! Yes, I know you love fruitcake – you would have loved my mother’s! She always used to get as mad as could be when I’d turn my nose up at it! Your wedding cake sounds too pretty to eat – really! 😉

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        I’m with you, Annie! Luuuuurve a good fruitcake. All that moist, boozy sweet fruit. Mmmmm.

        Wasn’t These Haunted Hearts wonderful? I LOVED it!

  5. Avatarfitzroylou

    Hand up here as another hater of fruit cake (and Christmas pudding, although that is marginally saved by lashings of brandy sauce). And I’ve never understood the tradition of keeping the second layer to eat on the first anniversary (ugh) and the third layer to be gifted at the Christening of the first child (double ugh!). Obviously a tradition that didn’t have the modern career couple in mind 🙂
    Congratulations on the release of THH, Anna. It sounds wonderful!

    1. Avatarannacampbell

      Hey, it’s my buddy Lou! Hello, Louise! Congratulations on the release of HER ITALIAN ARISTOCRAT! Thanks for saying you like the sound of THH. I was by far the youngest of my cousins so we seemed to be inundated by wedding cake through the post when I was a kid. Ugh! Glad to meet another fruitcake hater! We are the Grumpy Cats of the fruitcake world. NO!!!

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        I don’t understand you two…fruitcake is one of life’s joys!

        Although that tradition of keeping the layers is rather urk. Fruitcake can keep well, but it’d have to be dunked in a brandy barrel to last three years, surely?

        Methinks Anna should write more ghost stories, Louise. THH was a cracker!

  6. Avatarchristinestinson

    Hi, Anna and Cathryn. Enjoyed the post and These Haunted Hearts sounds like a ripper read, Anna! Not a fan of fruit cake either – can’t stand candied peel, but I do like a good plum pudding with brandy custard. We had a fruitcake at our wedding and since we both don’t like it, we just cut it. As per Lou’s explanation of the old tradition, we were informed we were supposed to keep the top layer (not the one my bridemaid spilt the bottle of red wine over) for our first anniversary. We ditched it instead – and will celebrate our ruby anniversary in May. Ditching tradition must be lucky sometimes…

    1. Avatarannacampbell

      Hi Chris! Gosh, talking to you brings back memories! Hope you’re well and writing up a storm. How interesting that you don’t like fruit cake either. I’m with you on plum pudding – it’s delicious. Although I’ve never quite worked out why it’s delicious and fruitcake is bleuch. You’d think they’d be much the same. Hot custard? Yum. Mum always did her plum pudding with ice-cream and cream and that was pretty yummy too. Glad tradition blessed (?) you both! v

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        I’m with you on the candied peel. Christine. I have a wonderful fruitcake recipe that I’ve adapted to leave the peel and those horrid glace cherries out. It’s MUCH nicer without them.

        LOL about your red wine spilling bridesmaid!

  7. AvatarJuanita Kees

    Can’t say I’m a fan of fruitcakes 😉 My family is full of them – in a good way of course! But I was once given a fruitcake recipe that uses pineapple juice instead of brandy. The non-drinkers in the family love it and and I get to enjoy the brandy in my custard.

    Congrats on THH, Anna! I know I’m going to love it as much as I did your rogue.

    1. Avatarannacampbell

      Hey, Juanita, fruitcake haters unite! And I’ll just have the brandy custard, thank you. Thanks for saying you’re looking forward to reading THH! x

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        I think my mother in law makes one like that, Juanita. And I’m sure I have a pudding recipe somewhere that uses pineapple juice and macadamia nuts. Hmm. May have to investigate that.

  8. AvatarLinda

    Nothing beats the smell of butter wafting through the house on baking day!
    I’m not a fruitcake fan either. I’m Asian so we get some rather different flavous where I live. I’d love a Pandan Jelly Layer cake http://bit.ly/10XF913
    It’s a sponge cake with a custardy topping. Super yummy!

    1. Avatarannacampbell

      Hi Linda! You’re so right about that buttery smell. Even better if there’s cinnamon or vanilla in the recipe. Ooh, that cake looks fabulous. There was a Chinese bakery across the road from the last place I worked (it was in Chinatown in Sydney). They made the MOST delicious stuff. Remember some magnificent mango and custard things. Not to mention that classic Chinese custard tart. That’s the food of the gods!

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Linda, that cake looks so interesting! I’ve seen something like that on a cooking show and wondered what it would taste like.

        Love how a house smells when you’re baking. It’s so warm and homely.

        Thanks for dropping by.

  9. AvatarJoan Kilby

    Hi Anna and Cathryn, Canadian wedding cake is traditionally fruitcake, too. I’m not a fan of the stuff so I had a chocolate cake at my wedding. My mother, however, insisted we have a fruitcake as well, which she made and had professionally iced.

    These Haunted Hearts sounds intriguing. I’m off to Amazon to get my copy!

    1. Avatarannacampbell

      Hey, thanks, Joan! Hope you enjoy THH! How interesting that Canadians have fruit cake too. I always assumed everyone did – fruitcake definitely holds up to transport better than butter cake. Chocolate cake is a great idea for a wedding! Happy Easter!

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        You’ll love THH, Joan. It’s a gorgeous story.

        Nice to see a wedding compromise. You get your choccie cake, Mum gets her fruitcake, and happiness reigns!

  10. Avatarjennifer tanner

    Hello Anna & Cathryn!

    I’ve got “We’ve Only Just Begun” tinkling through my head and memories of sitting in the back of a catering van with a giant purple wedding cake and seven matching satellite mini-cakes that also had a water feature. Despite this, I love wedding cakes. But the simpler, the better. I had bittersweet choc with raspberry filling and whipped cream frosting at my wedding. The cake started leaning so we had to cut it asap! Anna, you’re right about Chinatown cakes. They’re light and not too sweet. Happy Easter!

    1. Avatarannacampbell

      Jenn, I really miss that shop – although I’m not sure my waistline does. They used to put out the warm custard tarts straight from the oven around 10am! Many a day that was what got me through! 😉 Ooh, love your picture of the purple wedding cake! I worked in a function place at one stage when croquembuche were the big deal (the 80s live!). Must say I loved the profiteroles and the custard and the chocolate sauce!

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        My mind is BOGGLING at that cake, Jennifer! Purple? With a water feature???? Wow!

        Far out, all this talk of custard tarts and cake is making me crave veeeeery bad things….

  11. AvatarJanice

    Hi Anna and Cathryn, just talking about those cakes make me hungry!! Well, my husband and I had a traditional 3 tier American white cake with with butter cream icing -just perfect and delicious. Everyone loved it. It was made at our neighborhood bakery right down the block from where we were living. As was custom and tradition, we saved the top layer to eat on our 1 year anniversary. It was disgusting! Didn’t even taste like the same cake. We carefully had wrapped and moved that cake when we moved into our first house. It didn’t even look like the same beautiful cake. Anyway, the moral of the story is don’t get to wrapped up in tradition. If we had to do it all over again, we would have taken the cake with us on our honeymoon. It certainly would have tasted better. Thanks for the wonderful post. Can’t wait to read the new book.

    1. Avatarannacampbell

      Janice, love the sound of your wedding cake – and at least it wasn’t a fruit cake. Oh, yuck! I can’t imagine a butter cake lasting for a year. It must have been awful when you ate it after so long. Thanks for saying you’re looking forward to reading THE WINTER WIFE.

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Your cake sounds beautiful, Janice. But I’m with Anna on a butter cake lasting a year. I can kind of understand a brandy soaked fruitcake lasting, but butter cake? What a shame it disappointed you, especially when it was so gorgeous on the day.

        Thanks so much for dropping by and enjoying Anna’s post. Our Anna’s always entertaining!

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