Tag Archives: Ellie Alexander

A day in the life of Sloan Krause by Ellie Alexander

They say that brewing is a man’s game. Not true. Sure, men still outnumber women in the world of craft beer, but after brewing with big guys for over two decades I can tell you that good beer—not the cheap stuff that is mass produced by machines—is everyone’s game. One of the things that I love best about my job as head brewmistress for Der Keller, an authentic brewhaus in the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, WA, is watching people taste our creations. There’s nothing better than placing a tray with samples of our creamy straw-colored honey pilsner, hoppy citrus IPA, and chocolate-infused stout on the table and then standing back to observe. Brewers are like chefs. It’s my job to ensure that every beer we produce is made with the finest and freshest ingredients, and that with each sip our customers’ palates are treated to a sensory experience. The fact that our little German village is nestled in the Northern Cascade Mountains, affectionately known as the Washington Alps, and surrounded by abundant apple and cherry orchards, vineyards, and lush organic farmland, means that our beers reflect the same local flavor.

Back in the 1960s, Leavenworth almost died a slow and painful death. The town was on the brink of collapse. What had once been a booming mine town became a ghost town. However, the handful of residents left decided to fight for the land that they called home. They banded together and came up with an unusual plan—to turn their small logging and mining town into an authentic German alpine village. They signed a city ordinance requiring every business along Front Street to be designed in gothic style. Soon white stucco half-timbered buildings with dark wood accents, ornate balconies, and window boxes overflowing with geraniums replaced crumbling saw mills and abandoned farmhouses. Then the city hosted Leavenworth’s inaugural Oktoberfest which drew two-hundred people the first year. Today the festival stretches out over multiple weekends and brings thousands upon thousands of visitors to what is now known as the biggest celebration outside of Munich. A visit to Leavenworth means you’ll find abundant activities throughout the year from Christmas markets to the winter light festival and Maifest to the fall foliage celebration, just to name a few.

Strolling through Leavenworth’s cobblestone streets is as close as you can get to visiting Germany without leaving the country. Other than the fact that no one aside from my in-laws actually speak German, our little “beervaria” is the next best thing. For me, Leavenworth is home. After growing up in the foster care system, I never believed that I would find a permanent resting ground. My husband, Mac’s parents sort of adopted me. They are two of Leavenworth’s original residents and immigrated from Germany. Thanks in part to their vision and incredible brewing talent they helped put the family pub, Der Keller on the map, not only in the Pacific Northwest but throughout the globe. People travel from every continent to sip a pint of Otto and Ursula’s doppelbock. They’re the only parents I’ve ever known and the kindest people on the planet. Working in the family business had helped develop my nose for hops and given me the confidence to break out of my shell.

That was all changing now. I’d recently discovered my husband shagging the beer wench in the middle of the day. In the middle of the brewery!

I wanted to kill him. Can you blame me? In a town of two-thousand residents everyone was going to know what had happened. I couldn’t face showing up at Der Keller and having people look at me with sympathy, so I took a job at a new start-up brewery and threw myself into the process.

It might have worked, only someone else ended up dead and my soon-to-be-ex-husband quickly became the most likely suspect. Suddenly I found myself on the case. I knew that Mac was a cheater. But a killer? No way.


You can read more about Sloan in Death on Tap, the first book in the NEW “Sloan Krause” mystery series.

When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” This place is the new cool place in town, and Mac can’t help but be green with envy at their success.

But just as Sloan is settling in to her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way. Danger is brewing in Beervaria and suddenly Sloan is on the case.

Buy Link

# # # # # # # # # # #

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed copy of Death on Tap. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends October 5, 2017. Good luck everyone!

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
Ellie Alexander writes the bestselling Bakeshop Mystery series for St. Martin’s Press, set in the Shakespearean town of Ashland, Oregon and featuring a romantic, artisan pastry chef, Juliet Montague Capshaw.

Ellie is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

You can find her online on Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander

Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander is the first book in the NEW “Sloan Krause” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur Books, coming October 3, 2017

When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” This place is the new cool place in town, and Mac can’t help but be green with envy at their success.

But just as Sloan is settling in to her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way. Danger is brewing in Beervaria and suddenly Sloan is on the case.

This was a very intriguing book with a well-brewed mystery that simmered throughout rising to a rapid boil that quickly became a page turner as I could not put it down until it was all said and done. From the introduction of the various characters that take part in this light whodunit, we get to know a little about each and the role they play as each interaction brings us closer to the killer’s identity. The staging matched the pacing and the flow of this multi-plot drama creating an exciting adventure where the suspects were few but coming up with the motives made it interesting as the story progressed towards an ending that left me wanting more. The author did a great job in blending the ins and out of the brewery business and interspersing in the hows and whys in this beguiling mystery. Sloan is a strong and determined heroine and I would like to learn more about her past. Rounding out the cast is an eclectic group of people who bring their own insight into this debut novel. This was a pleasantly appealing tale and I can’t wait to read the next book in this likable series.

Pre-Order Link


FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

A day at sea with Jules Capshaw by Ellie Alexander

If it weren’t for my very persistent and equally charming husband, Carlos, I would have been safe and sound in my hometown of Ashland, Oregon whipping up batches of decadent cakes and cookies in preparation for the new season of the Shakespeare festival. Instead I was packing my bags and getting ready to set sail for a week in the tropics.

My training as a pastry chef had taken place on the azure waters of the Caribbean where I had mastered the art of making a perfect macaron and expanded my palate at each port of call. However, it had been almost a year since I had left the Amour of the Seas, Carlos, and my vagabond lifestyle behind. Nerves welled in my stomach at the thought of returning to the ship. I might have chickened out and said no when Carlos called and begged to come fill in temporarily—apparently, the ship’s pastry chef had left in a huff—except that he sweetened his offer by inviting Mom and her paramour the Professor to come along. Mom’s eyes had brightened at the mention of sandy beaches and sunny skies.

So I found myself back on the ship in its massive pastry kitchen. Unlike our family bakeshop, Torte, the Amour of the Seas boasted a state-of-the-art kitchen with every tool and gadget imaginable. I would be overseeing a large staff as we cranked out elegant pineapple tarts, tiered crepes filled with layers of mascarpone and fresh strawberries, and rum-soaked Bundt cakes drizzled with dark chocolate ganache for hundreds of passengers. Running a kitchen this size was more about organization and less about baking. I had grown accustom to getting my hands messy in bread dough at Torte. Being in the industrial kitchen was a firm reminder of why I had decided to plant roots in Ashland.

However, I was so busy putting the finishing touches on the platters for the send-off party that I didn’t have time to dwell on anything other than the task in front of me. My team assembled chocolate and marshmallow skewers, citrus shortbread, and kiwi tarts. The Amour of the Seas was a boutique cruise ship that catered to foodies. Guests opted to sail with us over some of the bigger ships with more amenities because of our dedication to the craft of food. Everything had to be top-notch and my staff didn’t disappoint. I popped a piece of tangy shortbread into my mouth and swooned at the buttery flavor with bright hints of apricot and tangerine. Giving the team my seal of approval, I picked up the platter and headed for the pool deck.

The atmosphere was electric when I arrived on the top deck. Waiters circulated between yellow and navy teak lounge chairs with spicy, grilled, beef kabobs. Sunlight glistened off the brilliant blue pool. Passengers waved goodbye as the ship’s horn sounded and we pulled away from the dock. I spotted Mom and the Professor wearing matching flower leis and dancing to the beat of the steel drum band. Maybe a week at sea would be just what the doctor ordered, I thought as I squeezed through the happy crowd.

Mom wrapped me in a hug. “Juliet, this is wonderful.” She beamed with delight.

The Professor, who had abandoned his typical tweed jacket in favor of a tropical shirt with palm trees, nodded in agreement. “As the bard says in Macbeth,” he paused and held up a fruity cocktail with a paper umbrella. “I drink to the general joy o’ the whole table.”

“I’m glad you’re both enjoying yourselves,” I replied, offering them slices of the citrus shortbread.

“I think this is going to be a wonderful week and the best vacation ever,” Mom said with a grin as she took a bite of the cookie.

Unfortunately, her sentiment was short lived. When I woke early the next morning to get in a quick walk before a day of frenzy in the pastry kitchen, I strolled past the crystal blue pool where I discovered a young woman floating face-down in the salt water. Suddenly in addition to managing a busy kitchen and fending off Carlos’s attempts to convince me to make my return permanent, I found myself in the middle of murder investigation.


You can read more about Jules in A Crime of Passion Fruit, the sixth book in the “Bakeshop” mystery series.

Torte―everybody’s favorite small-town family bakeshop―is headed for the high seas, where murder is about to make a splash. . .

Jules Capshaw is trying to keep her cool as Torte gets set to make its transformation from quaint, local confectionary café to royal pastry palace. Meanwhile, Jules’s estranged husband Carlos is making a desperate plea for her to come aboard his cruise ship and dazzle everyone with her signature sweets. She may be skeptical about returning to her former nautical life with Carlos but Jules can’t resist an all-expense-paid trip, either. If only she knew that a dead body would find its way onto the itinerary.

Now, instead of enjoying tropical drinks on deck between whipping up batches of sea-salted chocolates and flambéing fresh pineapple slices in the kitchen, Jules is plunged into dangerous waters. Her investigation leaves her with more questions than answers: Why can’t anyone on board identify the young woman? And how can she help Carlos keep passengers at ease with a killer in their midst? Jules feels like she’s ready to jump ship. Can she solve this case without getting in too deep?

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
Ellie Alexander writes the Bakeshop Mystery series for St. Martin’s Press, set in the Shakespearean town of Ashland, Oregon and featuring a romantic, artisan pastry chef, Juliet Montague Capshaw.

Ellie is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

You can find her online on Facebook, Twitter, on Instagram and at www.elliealexander.co.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed copy of A Crime of Passion Fruit along with a tropical baking mix. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends July 3, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Buy Link

A day in the life with Juliet Montague Capshaw by Ellie Alexander

fudge-and-juryBeing a pastry chef is a pretty fabulous job, despite the early morning hours and long days spent on my feet and in front of a hot oven. As is life in my charming and somewhat quirky hometown of Ashland, Oregon. Since Shakespeare and the theater company play a starring role in our English-style village tucked into the southernmost corner of Oregon there’s always something going on around town. From productions of Hamlet to jugglers and musicians busking on the sidewalk Ashland is alive with creative types and festive energy.

Lately the excitement hadn’t centered around the theater though. Instead everyone was talking about chocolate. That’s right chocolate. Ashland hosts one of the Northwest’s largest and most decadent chocolate festivals every year and locals were buzzing with preparations for this year’s fest. The chocolate festival ran for a long weekend and featured every kind of chocolate you could imagine including chocolate slushies, a seven-course chocolate dinner, chocolate beer, chocolate and sea salt pairings, and of course plenty of chocolate fudge, truffles, cakes, and cookies. Guests could sample and taste their way through the event and take in demonstrations and workshops offered by some of the most revered chocolatiers this side of the Mississippi.

Torte, our family bakeshop, had been named one of the festival’s showcase vendors which meant that in addition to providing hundreds of samples to chocolate lovers would we also be responsible for a variety of technical demonstrations, like cake decorating and chocolate modeling. Our team had been working around the clock baking Mom’s world famous chocolate spice cake with mocha frosting, chocolate pasta that would be served with white chocolate sauce and topped with chopped pistachios and fresh berries, and an assortment of rich dark chocolate truffles infused with almond extract and orange liqueur and coated in coconut and cocoa powder. Additionally, I was constructing three unique chocolate wedding cakes that would serve as our display at the festival and hopefully attract some new clients.

While Mom and I worked at the festival the rest of the team would stay behind and begin renovations at the bakeshop. We had saved up for shiny new ovens for months and they were finally ready to be installed. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. With the festival in full swing everyone in Ashland would be consumed by chocolate.

I never considered that things could go terribly wrong as Mom and I draped our tables at the stunning, historic Ashland Springs Hotel with yards of espresso colored fabric and placed the tiered chocolate wedding cakes that I had meticulously hand-pipped with French buttercream frosting on rustic log slices and adorned them with evergreen branches and blood red winter berries. Our table looked as if it had been dipped in chocolate and like an elaborate sweet feast. As the first guests arrived we offered them tastes of our labor and beamed with pride when they gushed about our cake designs. But then things took a nasty turn.

Evan Rowe, a master chocolatier and owner of Confections Couture, wandered by our booth under the pretense of introducing himself. I had a sneaking suspicion that the self-described chocolate diva was really trying to size-up his competition. He appraised our “homey” display with a sneer and look of condescension. Before I had a chance to come up with a witty response he popped a piece of our signature chocolate cake in his mouth and then seconds later clutched his throat and dropped to the floor. Could someone have tainted our cake, or had one of our fellow chocolate purveyors intentionally bumped off the five-time festival champion? I wasn’t sure, but I did know that I was going to have to figure out who killed Evan in order to save Torte’s reputation and return to my happy place—chocolate.


FUDGE AND JURY is the fifth book in the Bake Shop mystery series published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks, January 2017.

Welcome to Torte―a friendly, small-town family bakery where the pastries are delicious. . .and, now, suspicious.

It’s almost spring in Ashland, Oregon, and the town is preparing for the Shakespeare and the annual Chocolate Festival. Business is cookin’ at Torte, and the store is expanding as Jules’ team whips up crèpes filled with mascarpone cheese and dark chocolate. Torte stands a chance of being this year’s confectionery belle of the ball! Life couldn’t be sweeter―unless murder taints the batter.

Evan Rowe, of Confections Couture, makes a chocolate fountain that would put Willy Wonka to shame, and his truffles are to die for―literally? Yes, the world-renowned chocolatier has just turned up dead. . .right after sampling a slice of Jules’ decadent four-layer chocolate cake. Now all eyes are on Jules as she tries to find the mysterious ingredient in her own recipe. Can she sift out the truth before another contestant bites the buttercream?

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
Ellie Alexander writes the Bakeshop Mystery series for St. Martin’s Press, set in the Shakespearean town of Ashland, Oregon and featuring a romantic, artisan pastry chef, Juliet Montague Capshaw.

Ellie is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

You can find her online at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Fudge and Jury. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends January 8, 2017. Good luck everyone!

A Conversation with Juliet Capshaw by Ellie Alexander

Caught Bread HandedLife in Ashland, Oregon is idyllic, picturesque, and charming thanks to our town’s Shakespearean-inspired shops and restaurants, our lush parks, gorgeous rivers, and snow-capped mountains. Not to mention our warm and welcoming community. At our bakeshop, Torte, everyone is like family. Whether you’ve lived in Ashland for your entire life or are just passing through to take in a show at the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, at Torte you’ll always be treated like royalty.

My mom, Helen, has been serving up warm scones and rich espresso with a side of love for the last few decades. People come to Torte for our delicious sweets and savory pastries, but also to gather and chat about the latest production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, brush elbows with the actors and playwrights from the company, or catch up on the gossip around town. And lately the gossip had been focused on a new restaurant moving onto the plaza—ShakesBurgers.

One of the things that makes Ashland such a unique place is our adherence to all things Elizabethan. Every shop and restaurant on the downtown plaza is designed in old world architecture with ornate gables, extravagant towers, and multi-paneled glass windows. In addition to looking like you’ve stepped back into Shakespeare’s time when touring Ashland, you’ll also be treated to thematic shops like Puck’s Pub where pints of Northwest microbrew are served in antique silver mugs or A Rose By Any Other Name, the flower shop where each beautiful bouquet comes tied with a sonnet. So when news started to spread that a chain restaurant was moving into the plaza, our usually warm and welcoming community was less than thrilled.

Having grown up in Ashland I left to go explore the world after I graduated from high school. Maybe it was the pressure of being named after one of literature’s most romantic heroines—Juliet. Or maybe it was just that I needed to explore far off corners of the globe for myself. Either way, I’m glad that I had a chance to travel and expand my culinary palate, but there’s no place like home and I was happy to be home again.

Except that the sweet hometown I knew and loved was abuzz with anger over the new chain restaurant, ShakesBurgers moving in. Mindy Nolan, the owner of ShakesBurgers, had assumed that Ashland would be the perfect spot for her fast food burger joint, given its whimsical name, but that was where any further references to the Bard ended. Not only was ShakesBurgers a chain but Mindy and her team had torn down the old Shakespearean façade and replaced it with hideous neon green and orange signage. No one in Ashland was happy to have a chain restaurant on the plaza and no one was inviting Mindy to Torte for a slice of Oregon marionberry pie or a warm cup of Chai.

I found myself caught in the middle. Mindy was drooling over our homemade sourdough bread and interested in partnering with Torte on a very lucrative wholesale account. She wanted us to bake all of ShakesBurgers’ buns. Torte could really use the extra dough, but with the rest of the town up in arms over ShakesBurgers appearance on the plaza I might be making a deal with enemy if I agreed to Mindy’s terms. But when Mindy was discovered dead things went from bad to worse. Now I was in the mix with a potential killer and fighting to save everything I loved about my quaint hometown.


Caught Bread Handed is the fourth book in the Bakeshop mystery series, published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks, coming June 28, 2016.

Welcome to Torte―a friendly, small-town family bake shop where the oven is heating up as high as the body count. . .

Jules Capshaw is still chewing over her husband Carlos’s return to Ashland, Oregon. Could there be too many cooks in the kitchen? Whatever is stirring between those two will have to wait. Despite the Oregon Shakespeare Festival being dark for the winter, the bakeshop is bustling, the dough is rolling, and there’s no rest for the weary. . .especially when murder is thrown into the mix.

When Mindy Nolan, the owner of a new restaurant in town, turns up dead, the batter at hand thickens. Jules knows that there was bad blood between Mindy and others in town, and tracking down the killer could prove to be an unwelcome treat. And to top it all off, there’s Carlos, who is pleading―with those delicious dark eyes and sexy Spanish accent―for Jules to take him back. Is home where the heart is or will she make a fresh start. . .and risk getting burned?

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Caught Bread Handed plus sweet drinks to accompany the read like Strawberry Lemonade and Oregon Chai. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end June 28, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

Another Day in the Life of Juliet Montague Capshaw by Ellie Alexander

On Thin IcingSailing the seas for the past decade had allowed me to see far-off corners of the globe and experience taste and flavor combinations from different regions and cultures. My palate developed and expanded at each port of call. From spicy curries in Egypt to delicate French pastries, I made it my mission to immerse myself in the food culture wherever the cruise ship’s mighty bow pointed me. I cherished my time on the ocean, but nowhere in the world compared to home.

I’d been home in Ashland, Oregon for six months, and had finally found my land legs. Working in my family’s bakeshop, Torte, and by my mom’s side had helped eased the pain of leaving my husband and the life I’d known. As had the warm and vibrant community of locals and tourists who welcomed me back with open arms. It was nearly impossible to linger in sadness with the scent of fresh bread being pulled from the oven or rich espresso brewing. I embraced my new life and found solace in rolling pie crust and icing dainty tea cakes.

Winter closed in and the tourists returned to sunnier locales, leaving Ashland in a quiet slumber. When my friend Lance asked me to cater a retreat for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s board of directors at a high alpine lodge, I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t seen snow in years and couldn’t wait to prepare a winter feast sure to dazzle Lance and his guests.

Armed with winter boots, a parka, and my pastry knives, I made the trek to Lake of the Woods Resort, a rustic lodge located in Oregon’s Southern Cascade Mountains. The quaint and charming lodge was blanketed in snow. It was like stepping into a winter wonderland. I had to pinch myself when I discovered where I would be working for the next few days—in the lodge’s vintage kitchen complete with cheery gingham curtains and a wood burning pizza oven.

Soon a fire was crackling in the pizza oven as fat flakes fell outside. The atmosphere was picture perfect and the hearty menu of soups and stews and orange cardamom sweet rolls and double chocolate cookies that I’d prepared should satisfy hungry guests. The weekend was off to a great start until the wind began to howl and the snow began to dump from the sky. A blizzard hit at five thousand feet, sending tree limbs hurling through the air and cutting off power to the lodge.

My culinary skills were going to be put to the test. Cooking at elevation was a challenge, but cooking without power was nearly impossible. Thank goodness for the pizza oven. As I quickly sketched out a new plan for the weekend, something even more dangerous than the conditions outside struck—murder!

The lodge’s bartender had been iced, literally. His body had been stuffed into a freezer and left out in the cold. If I couldn’t figure out who had killed him, I might be next. And to make matters worse my estranged husband, Carlos, appeared with a singular mission to win me back. Suddenly I was baking up a storm, distracted by Carlo’s romantic advances, and on the hunt of a killer.


You can read more about Jules latest adventures in On Thin Icing, the third book in the “Bakeshop” mystery series, published by St. Martin’s Press. The first two books in the series are Meet Your Baker and A Batter Of Life And Death.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed copy of ON THIN ICING along with some delectable winter teas and hot chocolates. (US entries only, please.) The giveaway will end January 7 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

About the author
Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.
Visit Ellie at www.bakeshopmystery.com, Facebook and Twitter at @bakeshopmystery

Back Home with Juliet Montague Capshaw by Ellie Alexander

A Batter of Life and DeathThe familiar scent of rich espresso and fresh baked bread hit me as I opened the front door to our family bakeshop, Torte. I couldn’t help but smile. Even though I’d been back in Ashland, Oregon, my hometown, for a few months I still loved opening the front door every morning.

All of my best memories growing up took place at Torte. Torte is more than a bakeshop, it’s a gathering place for friends and neighbors. Whether you’ve lived in our charming town for your entire life or are stopping through for a few days to take in a show at the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, at Torte you’re always family.

When my parents started the bakeshop they wanted to create a cheery and welcoming space where they could share their love of baking and our family recipes. I think they succeeded. From the bright red and teal walls, to the chalkboard menu with a rotating Shakespearean quote and the sunny booths lining the front windows, the bakeshop is the perfect combination of both of them. After my dad died, my mom, Helen, kept the busy shop humming with customers and delectable sweets and pastries while I ventured out on my own to see the world. I’m glad that I did because after exploring the globe, I’ve come to understand that there’s no place as special as Ashland.

Being back again had given me new appreciation for my hometown, with one small exception—my name. My parents named me Juliet after Shakespeare’s most romantic heroine. I prefer Jules. It fits and it’s much less pressure.

I’m a romantic at heart, and my heart was in need of some repair. Ashland was the perfect place to let my heart mend. And, while I wasn’t sure what the future held for me, I knew one thing—I was exactly where I wanted to be at this moment.

I also knew that Torte needed a serious influx of dough. Not in the pastry or pie making form. One of our ovens had finally quit on us. Mom hadn’t upgraded the kitchen equipment in years. Torte was in desperate need of a makeover, and that required cash. Lots of cash.

When a Pastry Channel producer came calling, I thought it was almost divine intervention. The popular network was coming to Ashland to film their hit bake-off series Take the Cake and they wanted to shoot at Torte. Not only would being on the show give us some great national exposure but the Pastry Channel offered to pay us for the use of our kitchen—one step closer to shiny new ovens!

What could possibly go wrong, I thought as I swung open Torte’s front door and inhaled the scent of sweet rolls and banana nut bread.

It turns out a lot could go wrong. I would soon come to learn that new ovens were the least of my worries when I discovered one of the Take the Cake contestants buried in buttercream.


You can read more about Jules and the TV show in A Batter of Life and Death, the second book in the “Bakeshop” mystery series, published by St. Martin’s Press. The first book in the series is Meet Your Baker.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on June 29 for the chance to win a print copy of A Batter of Life and Death. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

About the author
Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Visit Ellie at www.bakeshopmystery.com.

My Musing ~ A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander

A Batter of Life and DeathA Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander is the second book in the “Bakeshop” mystery series. Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, June 2015

Welcome to Torte-a small-town family bakeshop where the coffee is hot, the muffins are fresh, and the cakes are definitely to die for.

It’s autumn in Ashland, Oregon-’tis the season for a spiced hot apple cider with a serving (or two) of Torte’s famous peach cobbler. It’s also the perfect time for Jules Capshaw to promote her family’s beloved bake shop by competing in The Pastry Channel’s reality show, Take the Cake. The prize is $25,000. But as Jules quickly learns, some people would kill for that kind of dough. Literally.

Then, just as Jules dusts off her Bavarian Chocolate Cake recipe and cinches up her apron, the corpse of a fellow contestant is discovered-death by buttercream. What began as a fun, tasteful televised adventure has morphed into something of a true-crime detective show for Jules and everybody else on set. Who could have killed Chef Marco, and why? Can Jules sift out the killer before someone else gets burned?

It was fun spending time with Jules and her friends in this evenly-paced light drama. The author did a great job in setting up this tale and I enjoyed the intricacies of each scene that when it was all piece together, resulted in a finely tuned mystery. It was fun sifting through all the clues and narrowing down the list of suspects, especially when I thought I knew who did the deed, but then the author changed direction to keep me teasingly reading. Jules is very likable as is her mother and the employees at the family’s bakeshop. The rest of the cast of characters interact well with Jules for a fulfilling tale and I like that the dialogue brings the story to life. A good read and I look forward to see what happens next with Jules and the family bakeshop.

A Day in the Life of Juliet Montague Capshaw by Ellie Alexander

Meet Your BakerOne of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes begins with “What’s in a name?” Well let me tell you when your name is Juliet Montague Capshaw and you live in the charming Shakespearean town of Ashland, Oregon there’s a lot in that name. As in a lot of pressure, and a lot to live up to.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved growing up in the sweet Southern Oregon town surrounded by actors, playwrights, artists, and a warm and welcoming community of locals. My dad was a Shakespeare buff and thought naming me after the bard’s most romantic heroine would set me up for a life of love. He was wrong. Let’s just say that I haven’t exactly been lucky in love.

I thought shortening my name might help. That’s why I go by Jules. It fits. And it kept the nasty chef I trained under in culinary school from mocking me by singing, “Romeo, oh Romeo, where are you?” whenever I made a mistake.

After I graduated from culinary school, I landed a job as an apprentice pastry chef on a cruise ship. I left Ashland and the name Juliet behind, and set sail for new adventures. Working on a cruise ship had its advantages like exotic ports of call, experimenting with high-end pastry recipes, learning new techniques from world-class chefs, and meeting seductively handsome foreigners like my estranged husband Carlos.

I never thought I was homesick until things fell apart with Carlos. Suddenly I found myself longing for my idyllic childhood home with its quaint Main Street, friendly shop keepers, sun-drenched mountains, wild rivers, and our family bakeshop, Torte. When I called Mom to tell her I was coming home I could hear the excitement in her voice, mingled with unspoken worry. We’d kept in touch during my years at sea, but I hadn’t been home in a decade.

Returning to Ashland felt both familiar and entirely new. The town hadn’t changed much since I’d been away. I recognized its bubbling sulfur fountains, the meandering trails through Lithia Park, and all of the shops themed after Shakespeare, like Puck’s Pub and A Rose By Any Other Name. I recognized many faces too. They greeted me with hearty hugs and genuine excitement, “Juliet, you’re home!” Was I home? What did home even mean?

I wasn’t sure of much these days, but I did know one thing—baking. The only remedy for my problems was to lose myself in the dough. So I cinched on an apron and returned to my roots.

Torte, our family bakeshop, sits right in the middle of all of the action downtown. Our handcrafted pastries and treats are legendary with tourists and locals alike. The busy bakeshop was the perfect place to disappear for a while. Mom and I quickly found our rhythm while rolling out pie crust and piping decadent layers of chocolate frosting on hazelnut cakes.

My legs felt less shaky. Baking on solid ground certainly had its advantages. Returning to Ashland may have been the best choice I’d made in a while. I began to wonder why I ever left. That is until I discovered a body in the bakeshop and one of Torte’s employees was named the top suspect.

Murder was on the menu, and I was on a mission to find the killer and settle back into the delicious life I never knew I was missing.


You can read more about Jules in Meet the Baker, the first book in the new “Bakeshop: mystery series, published by St. Martin’s Press.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on January 2 for the chance to win a copy of MEET THE BAKER. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Meet the author
Ellie Alexander, author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series (St. Martin’s Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her here:

Catch Ellie here: Website | Twitter | Facebook