You might have noticed in some of my previous posts that I’m a huge fan of Mollie MacRae’s Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery series. They’re my absolute favourite cozy mysteries, featuring a drool-worthy yarn store in the small, quaint town of Blue Plum. There’s all sorts of craft and fibre entertainment, a resident ghost, the tiniest hints of psychic powers and — of course — a fair number of untimely deaths.
The latest book in the series — Crewel and Unusual — came out just this month. As usual in this series, Crewel and Unusual features a recipe for one of the tasty treats sold by the town deli: Mel’s On Main. This one is for Mel’s Pear and Ginger scones.
I made these over the holidays to take down for a family visit and everyone absolutely loved them. The fact that American scones are pretty different from British ones threw me at first, but I think they turned out beautifully and tasted amazing. This is definitely a recipe I’d make again!
Before folding down the top of the bakery bag, I took a napkin and one of the scones from it. The scone was gorgeous. It didn’t just have a bit of dry ginger in it; crystallized ginger studded the whole thing. Chunks of something else, too. Pear? To eat or not to eat; that was the eternal customer service etiquette question. Geneva looked over at the women.
“The coast is clear. Take a bite. The suspense would be killing me if I wasn’t already dead.”
I took a bite—tender, buttery, not too sweet. The chunks of pear hadn’t just been baked into it. They were tender, too, and hadn’t made the scone the least bit soggy. How had Mel done that? I kissed my fingertips and sighed for Geneva’s benefit. The crystallized ginger made the scone fabulous. Geneva’s shoulders rose and fell on an echoing sigh and she smiled for the first time that morning. I wrapped the rest of the pastry in the napkin to finish later. Flaky, buttery, and the least bit sweet didn’t mix well with fibers and fabrics.
2 or 3 firmish pears (about 1 pound), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger
¼ cup heavy cream
1 large egg
Heat oven to 375 ° F.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange pear chunks on parchment and roast (no need to stir) until they feel dry to the touch and look a little browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Slide parchment with pear chunks onto a cooling rack and cool to lukewarm. Leave oven on. Line baking sheet with another piece of parchment.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt together in a large bowl. Add butter cubes and cut in with a pastry blender until the cubes are about the size of baby green peas. Stir in cooled pear chunks. Give the mixture three or four quick mashes with the pastry blender (to break a few of the pear chunks, but leave most intact). Stir in crystallized ginger.
In a small bowl, beat cream and egg. Stir into flour mixture with a fork, just until you can bring the dough together in a ball. Don’t overmix.
On a well-floured board, pat dough into a 6-inch circle. Cut either into 6 or 8 wedges. Arrange wedges, two inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake scones until firm and golden, about 30 minutes if you’re making 6, about 22 minutes if you’re making 8. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Crewel and Unusual by Molly MacRae
A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery #6
Yarn shop owner Kath Rutledge is looking forward to the grand opening of the Blue Plum Vault, a co-op of small shops on Main Street. But in the week before the grand opening, Kath and her needlework group, TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Fiber), hear rumors of an unpleasant rivalry developing between two of the new shopkeepers. Nervie Bales and Belinda Moyer declare each other’s embroidery patterns and antique embroidered linens fakes, copies—and stolen goods. Kath is caught in the middle when she’s asked to use her textile expertise to decide if there’s any truth to the accusations.
Then, the day before the grand opening, an exquisite tablecloth that Kath has fallen in love with—the pride of Belinda’s shop—is found cut to shreds. Belinda accuses Nervie of the outrage, but Nervie has an airtight alibi: she was at Kath’s shop, the Weaver’s Cat, teaching a crewel embroidery class.
Despite worries over the rivalry and vandalism, the opening is a success—until Belinda is found dead, stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors from the Weaver’s Cat. Geneva, the ghost who haunts Kath’s store, claims she saw the murderer leaving the scene of the crime. But the ghost is the ultimate unreliable witness—only Kath and her shop manager can see or hear her. That means it’s up to Kath, TGIF, and especially Geneva the ghost to solve the crime before the killer cuts another life short.