Where the Wild Cherries Grow: a playlist

To celebrate the e-book release of Where the Wild Cherries Grow on the 23rd March, I thought I’d put together something special: a playlist of songs that inspired my writing, remind me of the characters, or just seem to fit the tone of the novel. This is a very mixed bag, from classical nocturnes to Hendrix, but hey, that’s the joy of playlists, right? Without further ado, here we are, a Where the Wild Cherries Grow playlist. I hope you enjoy it.

Laura x

  1. Gotta Get Up, Harry Nilsson (1972)

Yes, so I know that WTWCG is set in 1969, but 1972 is close enough, ok?? This is a great song, makes me think of Bill squeezing through the crowds of 1960s London, but it also captures the general mood of a generation, living fast, exhausting themselves. It’s a sort of Sergeant Pepper the morning after the night before…

2. Train Song, Vashti Bunyan (1966)

Anyone who’s read The Confectioner’s Tale will know that I’m a more than a little bit obsessed with trains, and WTWCG is no exception: train journeys are a fairly major feature of the text. So I couldn’t leave out this Vashti Bunyan classic.

3. Spiegel im Spiegel, Arvo Pärt (1978)

“Somewhere past the end of the cliff he stopped rowing, put the oars up and let us drift, tiny as a leaf on the dark water. The moonlight caught upon the ripples and scattered, until it seemed we were floating through stars.” (p.95, WTWCG)

4. Nocturne pour violin et piano, Lili Boulanger, 1911

This is an intriguing piece, written by Boulanger when she was only eighteen… It’s quite Emeline, simultaneously old and new world, impressionistic in places, with early jazz tinges in others. Boulanger sadly died at the age of 24, from pneumonia and Crohn’s disease, but we’re lucky some of her beautiful work survived.

5. Cosmic American, Anaïs Mitchell (2004)

Totally anachronistic, but who cares: this is one for Emeline and Puce, riding the freight trains in the dead of night.

6. Every Day’s a Lovely Day, Gulliver (1970).

I’m pretty certain Jem’s old, battered, green Citroen 2CV wouldn’t have had a tape deck in 1969, but if it did, this is probably what she’d be listening to, bombing around the dusty lanes of Norfolk with Bill in the passenger seat. (And yes, that is Daryl Hall, pre-Hall and Oates fame!)

7. Foxey Lady, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, (1968)

Come on, I had to. So long William Perch Esq, hello Bill. This one goes out to Matti, Javi and Luci.

8. Wonderful World, Sam Cooke, (1960)

This song is Bill, through and through. I always think of it at the end of the novel when… well, you’ll have to read it for yourself!

Where the Wild Cherries Grow: ebook release

I’m going to jump on the bandwagon with the sentence that everybody is saying today: I can’t believe it’s March already!

We’ve officially left February behind, with its long, grey days of neverending winter. Now, the daffodils and irises are out in my garden, the blossom is starting to froth on the trees and spring is on the way.

And I have some exciting news for readers with kindles and other e-readers, which is that my latest novel Where the Wild Cherries Grow is scheduled to be released in e-book version early, on 23rd March!

where-the-wild-cherries-grow-cover

It’s currently available to pre-order on Amazon, in ebook (£4.99) and paperback.

I’m afraid that paperback readers will have to wait until the official release date of 15th June 2017 – sorry! – although eagle-eyed shoppers may be able to find early editions in WH Smith Travel shops from April. I can promise too that there’ll be all sorts of exciting content, interviews, articles and recipes appearing between now and then.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of my readers for their patience regarding the publication of this book; as you may know, it was originally intended to be published last year, but for various reasons (ah, the mystical world of publishing) has been delayed. I’m so excited that it will finally be making its way onto shelves, it feels like I’ve been waiting a long time. I can’t wait to pass it on to new readers.

Thanks again, and more from me soon!

Laura x

New Book Klaxon! Where the Wild Cherries Grow

Last week I received some gorgeous-looking proofs, and as a result am exceedingly excited to finally be able to reveal news about my new book… Although some of you may remember that it was originally scheduled for publication in August 2016, after a few delays (plus a re-titling, and a re-design) I’m thrilled to say that this is it! The official version.

It’s called Where the Wild Cherries Grow, and is due to be published by Transworld on 20th April 2017.

where-wild-cherries-grow

Here’s a brief synopsis:

I closed my eyes as I tried to pick apart every flavour, because nothing had ever tasted so good before. It was love and it could not be hidden.

It is 1919 and the end of the war has not brought peace for Emeline Vane. Lost in grief, she is suddenly alone at the heart of a depleted family. She can no longer cope. And just as everything seems to be slipping beyond her control, in a moment of desperation, she boards a train and runs away.

Fifty years later, a young solicitor on his first case discovers Emeline’s diary. Bill Perch is eager to prove himself but what he finds in the tattered pages of neat script goes against everything he has been told. He begins to trace a story of love and betrayal that will send him on a journey to discover the truth. What really happened to Emeline all those years ago?

As the cover hints, this book swaps Paris for the wild foothills and coast of French Catalonia; the refinement of French patisserie in The Confectioner’s Tale for earthy, sun-drenched, vivid, passionate flavours that are hopefully just as transporting. Readers of The Confectioner’s Tale might even spot the odd familiar face… And of course, it includes a special recipe.

I’m so excited to finally be able to share this book with readers. I just hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I loved researching and writing it.

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Where the Wild Cherries Grow is available for pre-order. If you’re a blogger or reviewer, and would like a proof, please contact Transworld.

 

Domestic Sluttery Back in Town

So I’m very excited to announce that the brilliant team behind Domestic Sluttery are BACK with DS 2.0, this time in the form of a daily newsletter.

If you like stories about remarkable women, stylish homeware, ridiculous objects, fancy jewellery, sales bargains, gift ideas, easy, tasty recipes and swishy skirts then Domestic Sluttery is the newsletter for you.

© Laura Madeleine 2016

St Clement’s Polenta Cake

I’m back on occasional cake duty for them, too! So far, recipes have included St Clement’s Polenta Cake and Caramapple Pudding. Future ones? You’ll just have to sign up… https://www.domesticsluttery.com/

P.s. they’re also looking for brilliant food writers for paid, month-long residencies. Sound like your thing? Get on board!

 

The Confectioner’s Tale: US Edition

So today marks publication day for the US edition of The Confectioner’s Tale! I’m thrilled that this little book – which I feel like I started so many years ago – will now be available across the pond; not only in paperback, but in gorgeous, petite-sized hardback as well!

I’m beyond delighted to be published by St Martin’s Press; the team there have been fantastic and supportive, and I can’t wait to work with them on future books.

To celebrate the launch, I’m running a giveaway of TWO signed (and personalized, if you like) hardback copies of The Confectioner’s Tale. If you’d like to enter, just leave me a comment below before 1st October 2016 at 23:59 (GMT), and I’ll pick the winners at random.

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In case you missed it the first time (and because, of course, a celebration means cake) here’s a link to the St Germain Cake I created to mark the book’s original release.

St Germain Cake

A bientot!

L x

Cake Time: Hazelnut Cake with a Blackberry Sloe Gin Glaze

It’s officially September! Although I’m always sad to see the evenings get darker and cooler, to see the high, summer grass start to wilt and the leaves to brown, there’s so much I love about autumn. I love the scent of woodsmoke that starts to creep through the chill air in the evenings. I love the high, blue skies and brisk clouds. I love the old-gold colour of the sun, the saffron-yellow leaves, jumpers and boots and long walks that end in pubs with open fires…

And of course, then there’s the food. After weeks of salads and tarts and “light” summer dishes (in my book “light” still means immoral quantities of cheese), it’s exciting to be able to indulge in some heartier, cosier meals. And for me, autumn means one unmissable thing.

BLACKBERRIES.

I love blackberries. In crumbles, in cakes, eaten straight from the hedgerows… Not the flavourless, seedless plump shop-bought ones. You can keep them. I love tramping through meadows and straddling ditches, half-falling into hedgerows to pick small, deep, purple-black berries, so ripe they burst on your hands until you’re covered in juice. Wild blackberries have a flavour that’s impossible to replicate: sweet but mellow, perfumed and somehow darker than other berries. I like to think it’s because blackberries ripen as the nights grow shorter: they come along hand-in-hand with these plummeting late-summer twilights.

So without further ado, here’s one of my favourite recipes for them, which I hope captures the flavours of coming autumn. I’ll be posting more blackberry recipes over the next few weeks, so get out there and get berrying!

Hazelnut Cake with a Blackberry Sloe Gin Glaze

Ingredients:
For the cake:

  • 175g butter, very soft
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 40g ground almonds
  • Handful of hazelnuts, chopped
For the glaze
  • 100g fresh blackberries
  • 7 tbsp sloe gin
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean extract or 1/2 vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped out (if you can afford it, this stuff is so much better than standard vanilla extract)

Allons-y!
The cake:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 450g / 1lb loaf tin.
  2. Place the chopped hazelnuts in a dry pan and toast over a low heat for around 2 minutes. (Watch out, they catch and burn very easily). Tip onto a plate to cool.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Stir together the flour and almonds in a bowl.
  5. Beat the eggs, then add a third of them to the butter mixture, along with a third of the flour and almonds and stir gently to combine. Repeat with the remaining thirds, being careful not to over-mix.
  6. Stir in the cooled hazelnuts.
  7. Tip into your prepared loaf tin and smooth over the top.
  8. Bake for around 40-45 minutes or until risen and golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. (A few crumbs are fine).
The glaze:
  1. Place 100g blackberries into a saucepan, along with 4 tbsp sloe gin, the sugar and the vanilla extract. (Save a few whole berries for decoration and surreptitious eating).
  2. Stir together and cook over a low heat until the blackberries can be crushed with the back of a spoon and the liquid has reduced, about 10 minutes.
  3. Place a mesh sieve over a bowl and strain the liquid, smooshing the berry-pulp with a spoon to get all the gorgeous, purple juice out.
  4. Return the liquid to the pan and reduce over a low heat again until thickened, another 4-5 minutes or so.
  5. Set aside and stir regularly: you’ll need to use this quite quickly before it sets, so have that cake ready.
  6. Prick holes in the top of the cake whilst still warm and drizzle over the remaining 2 tbsps of sloe gin.
  7. Remove from the paper and place on a wire rack. (You might want something underneath – this bit gets messy).
  8. Spoon the glaze over the cake whilst still warm, pushing to the edges with the back of a spoon. Decorate with the remaining blackberries and bask in the ruby, sticky deliciousness that has now stained your entire kitchen.

This recipe first appeared on the much-loved, much-missed Domestic Sluttery.

Die Tochter des Patissiers

So, earlier this week I received yet another exciting book package; to my delight this one contained copies of the German translation of The Confectioner’s Tale,  Die Tochter des Patissiers.

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This one is SUCH a lovely edition, so I have to thank Bastei Lübbe for doing an absolutely brilliant job on the design work. There are thoughtful touches all the way through the presentation, including fold out recipes pages (for my St Germain Cake) and colourful page numbers!

So very happy. Thank you Germany!

The Confectioner’s Tale Abroad

I always love receiving book-post, and last week brought two very exciting book-post packages. Both were to do with the arrival of The Confectioner’s Tale in different countries, this time Italy and the USA!

First up is the the Italian version, a lovely hardback edition released last week by Piemme as:

Una deliziosa pasticceria a Parigi

https://i2.wp.com/api2.edizpiemme.it/uploads/2016/05/566-4788-4_ba6b2a3352531a573014557ebb4a27d3.jpg

This is actually my first ever hardback to be published so it holds a special place in my heart. Also, they’ve done a brilliant job on the print quality, with the cover boards printed beneath the dust jacket. At the end of last month, there was a blog tour for the book, so if you speak or read Italian, or are just interested, then details are below. Thanks Piemme!

blogtour deliziosa pasticceria ok

Next, but certainly no less exciting was the arrival of proof copies of the US edition of The Confectioner’s Tale from St Martin’s Press! It’s also due to be published in hardback in September 2016 and I can’t wait to see the finished copies. In the meantime, I’ll have to be content with these exclusive proofs:

The Confectioner's Tale US

TCT is also included in the free sampler Macmillan have produced for their autumn releases, which you can download from NetGalley or Edelweiss. I’ll also be holding a giveaway of some proof copies over the next week or two, so keep an eye out for that.

Next up, the German edition of TCT, entitled Die Tochter des Patissiers, which is due to be released by Bastei Luebbe in, oh, a week’s time! Exciting! More on that then.

Friday Cake Time: Tiramisu Cake

tiramisu cake
I LOVE tiramisu. Love, love love it. What’s not to love? Booze, coffee, mascarpone… But, it’s hard to stick birthday candles in tiramisu. So, a few years ago I came up with this hybrid: tiramisu cake! All the flavours of tiramisu, masquerading as a cake. I made it again recently for a very important birthday, so thought I’d share it with everyone here.

Tiramisu Cake

Overall preparation time: 35-40 minutes
Baking time: 30-35 minutes

Ingredients:
For the cake:

  • 175g butter, very soft (but not melted)
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp strong coffee
  • 1 tbsp brandy
For the filling and topping*:
  • 4 tbsp strong, cold coffee
  • 6 tbsp brandy (or amaretto, if you prefer)
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • A couple of squares of good quality dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • A handful coffee beans (to decorate)
Allons-y!
The cake:
  1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Grease and line the bottoms of two 20cm cake tins.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, along with a tablespoon of flour to stop the mixture from splitting.
  5. Sift in the remaining flour and baking powder, and fold in gently.
  6. Carefully stir in the vanilla, coffee and brandy.
  7. Spoon into the cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes, until risen and golden and the sponge springs back when pressed.
  8. Leave to cool in the tins for a minute or two, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
The filling:
  1. Whilst the cakes are still just warm, turn them over and drizzle the undersides alternately with the coffee and 4 tbsp of the brandy.
  2. Place the mascarpone in a bowl, along with the icing sugar and remaining 2 tbsp brandy and beat together.
  3. When the cakes are cool, smooth half the mascarpone over the bottom cake.
  4. Finely grate the dark chocolate over the mascarpone, then sandwich the other cake on top.
  5. Smooth mascarpone over the top layer.
  6. When you’re ready to serve the cake, dust the top liberally with cocoa powder, decorate with coffee beans and stand back, to survey your masterpiece.

 

* If you’re a fan of lots of topping and filling, you can always double up the quantities here; in my experience it results in slightly too much to be feasible for one cake, but hey, you can always eat the rest of it on its own…

 

This recipe was first featured on the much-loved, much-missed Domestic Sluttery.

The Confectioner’s Tale… The Audiobook!

With the rush towards Christmas, page-proofing, new writing and an overload of mulled things, it completely slipped my mind to say that a few weeks ago, The Confectioner’s Tale was released as an audiobook!

the confectioner's tale audiobook

Very exciting of course; but also more than a little strange to hear my words read aloud by someone else for the first time! It’s read by Julie Teal (who has also narrated The Saffron Trail and The Honours, amongst many other things).

If you’re so inclined, you can get your hands on a copy – and hear a sample – at Audible, iTunes, Amazon or, wherever you usually get your audiobooks from.

More news soon on new book releases, foreign versions and general cakery.

L x