A what? I hear you ask. Well, simply put, she's a matchmaker. She finds prospective partners for rich men who are simply too busy to find one for themselves. What's more, Becca is good at it. In fact, she's brilliant, her success rate is one client away from 100%. This she puts down to three simple ingredients:
Science, psychology and faultless date planning.
Her own love life is non-existent. Left broken-hearted over two years ago, Becca is now off men. This, says her wonderful aunt, is the reason why she only looks for potential brides for her male clients, instead of potential husbands. So when asked by a successful career woman to find her a husband, she says yes.
And that is when she bumps into Adam. Adam is a potential date for her new female client. When Becca meets him for his first date with this client, prepping him for what's about to happen, he arrives with a large brown paper bag. Becca opens it and sniffs, inhaling a sweet, delightful, lung-full of warm croissant smell. Heaven. And what else is in there? She roots around. A cake. But not just any old cake. It is a Maid of Honour – a cake baked for Henry VIII, and a closely guarded secret recipe. And now Adam has created his own version at his bakery, The Pudding Lane Bakery, which Becca tucks into as soon as Adam goes off onto his official date. And even though she's just eaten, as she watches her client and Adam, she can't help but feel a little empty inside.
And they say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach…
A Batch Made in Heaven was previously published a few years ago under Kate's pseudonym, Amy Appleton, and called The Bride Hunter. I adored it at the time – I still have my copy on the shelf – so I'm delighted that Kate has now re-released the book as an eBook with a new title and under her real name. I decided to skip through the novel, just to remind myself of the story (it was a while ago), but found I couldn't skip through it. I was sucked in once more to Becca's life and the various characters she helps find love. I just couldn't put it down.
Now, Maids of Honour are a closely guarded recipe and if you want the original one – as beloved by Henry VIII – you really need to pay a trip to the Kew Road. You could, of course, have a go at baking your own, which is what this column is all about, after all. The recipe below is a very simple recipe, and who knows what Henry VIII would have made of it (not that I care – he wasn't particularly nice to women after all), but they are, quite simply rather lovely.
Recipe inspired by this one from Be-Ro. A childhood favourite of mine.
Rolling pin, 12-hole cake tin – greased, pastry cutter 7/8cm, electric mixer, teaspoon.
500g packet shortcrust pastry
Almond paste or raspberry jam or strawberry jam or lemon curd (use whatever you like)
100g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour
- Grease your cake tin(s) and pre-heat oven to 180 fan.
- Flour your work surface and roll out the pastry. Cut out 24 rounds.
- Put the pastry into the tin and press down.
- Add a blob of jam/almond paste/lemon curd (a generous 1/2 teaspoon).
- Cream the butter with the sugar using the electric mixer (if you have one, if not beat hard with a wooden spoon!)
- Add the eggs and mix.
- Add the flour and vanilla and mix well.
- Put a teaspoon of the sponge mix over the jam/almond paste/lemon curd.
- Place in the oven for 18 minutes.
- And there you have it. Maids of Honour the Novelicious way.