Face it, we all need breaks! A needed holiday a couple of times a year. A long weekend to unwind. A day off to recharge. Even when we’re working, we need to take at least fifteen minutes away from our jobs after we’ve been working non-stop for two or three hours. Hey, we’re not robots, and if our jobs require us to sit, stand, or walk around for any length of time, our bodies will eventually tire, and we lose our focus. And that could cause plenty of headaches for business owners, retail stores, and manufacturers.
Even when I’m writing a book, I make sure I include plenty of sequels between scenes. It’s kind of like a coffee break (or tea if you’re so inclined) for your reader. Scenes include plenty of activity and emotion, at times keeping readers on the edge of their seats. Sequels are devised to break the tension where there’s less activity, letting the readers’ emotions rest. I use this technique in both my young adult book series, The Last Timekeepers and Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. This way, there’s a balance between the calm and chaos in every tale I write, and doesn’t leave my reader feeling exhausted at the end of the book.
Ready for a break? How about a slice of homemade coffee cake? It’s a twist on what you would think of as seasonal baking, and trust me, this cake is great for your anticipated time out, whether you’re at work or at home working on your next novel or artistic endeavor. With a prep time of 15 minutes and a total time of 1 hour, 25 minutes, this cake serves about 24 of your closest colleagues.
Gingerbread Coffee Cake
3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 tbsp. (45 mL) cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp. (15 mL) ground ginger
2 tsp. (10 mL) ground cinnamon
2 tsp. (10 mL) baking powder
1 tsp. (5 mL) baking soda
½ tsp. (2 mL) each salt and ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. (1 mL) ground cloves
⅔ cup (150 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups (375 mL) sugar
½ cup (125 mL) molasses
1 tsp. (5 mL) vanilla extract
2 cups (500 mL) sour cream
PREHEAT oven to 350 °F (180°C).
GREASE 9 or 10 inch (23 or 25 cm) Bundt pan. Dust with flour.
IN a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.
IN a separate bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in molasses and vanilla.
SET mixer on low speed. Alternately beat in flour mixture and sour cream, making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of sour cream and scraping down side of bowl as necessary.
SCRAPE batter into prepared pan, smoothing top.
BAKE until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of cake, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
LET cool completely in pan on wire rack. Invert onto serving plate. Prepare sauce to drizzle over cake.
Coffee Caramel Sauce
1½ cups (375 mL) firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) brewed coffee (brew stronger than package directions)
¼ cup (60 mL) 35% whipping cream, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ tsp. (1 mL) salt
IN a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar and coffee. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until sugar is fully dissolved and mixture is foamy, about 12 to 15 minutes.
REMOVE from heat. Stir in cream, butter and salt. Drizzle over gingerbread cake. Slice and serve.
So, now that you’ve baked to your heart’s content, it’s time for your break! Leave those dirty dishes in the sink, pour yourself a cup of your favorite hot beverage, and go curl up on the couch with one of my books. May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls? Just remember to pack lightly.
The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…
City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.
Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder.
Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice. Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.
Teen Psychic Mystery Series: