It all began with a rather amiable African woman, Precious Ramotswe, who starts a detective agency and devotes herself to solving mysteries and helping people with the problems in their lives. Along the way, Precious is joined by Grace Makutsi (97 percent on her secretarial exams) and Precious’s mechanic husband (he can’t resist fruit cake). After ten years we’re profoundly grateful to all the wise and wonderful fans of the series, and we’d like to thank you with a recipe worth stealing:
Precious’s Sponge Cake Worth Stealing
5 eggs (medium to large, but not jumbo)
1 cup very fine sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3Ž4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 9-inch tube pan
Separate the eggs and beat the yolks in a mixing bowl until they are a bright-lemon color. Add the sugar gradually and continue beating until the mixture forms ribbons when the spoon is held above the bowl. Then add the vanilla and lemon. Beat the egg whites into the yolk mixture, then alternate, sifting some of the flour and salt into the batter. Continue to fold and sift in the flour until it is used up. Spoon the batter into a 9-inch ungreased tube pan with false bottom. It is important for sponge cake to adhere to the walls of the pan. Set in a preheated 350° oven for 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately place it facedown on a wire rack and let the cake hang for about 40 minutes before setting it upright again. This process keeps the cake from collapsing during the cooling period and also holds the texture of the cake. Remove the cake from the pan and place it in a tin that is not completely airtight, otherwise sweat will develop. Sponge cake is best cut with a serrated knife, using a sawing motion, or pulled apart with two table forks.
From The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis. Copyright 2006 by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
In this latest episode in the beloved, best-selling series, the kindest and best detective in Botswana faces a tricky situation when her personal and professional lives become entangled.
Have you ever said to yourself, Wouldn’t it be nice to be a detective?
This is the story of an African girl who says just that.
Her name is Precious.
When a piece of cake goes missing from her classroom, a traditionally built young boy is tagged as the culprit. Precious, however, is not convinced. She sets out to find the real thief. Along the way she learns that your first guess isn’t always right. She also learns how to be a detective.
In this latest installment, Precious Ramotswe faces two confounding cases: the mysterious fate of some cows, and the ghost-like reappearance of her dear old white van.