I was not kidding.
Here’s how I found the most embarrassing error of my writing career (so far):
Before I published a book, I used to think that book signings would be the worst part of being an author. What if no one buys a book? What if no one even shows up? What if they do show up and I have to talk to them? I’m an introvert, FFS. I became a writer to avoid people.
But it turned out that signings are my very favorite part of this whole job. Here’s the trick: I bring scones and hand them out to anyone who comes near my table. I’ll go ahead and brag here: I make the best scones you’ve ever eaten. My scones could broker peace between nations. I bring them to all signings, and I’m never lonely. When people say, “Oh, um, I don’t read romance,” and look guilty because they’ve already shoved half a scone into their face, I just offer up another one and say, “Tell me what you do read.” There is nothing I love quite as much as talking about books while eating scones. (Except possibly talking about books while drinking wine. But they don’t let me do that at book signings.) Eventually, I let it slip that the scone recipe is in my book, but I’ve written it down for loads of people who don’t read romance. Recipes are meant to be shared.
One morning in early 2017, I had a book signing at the local library, and I needed to make my scones. I have the recipe memorized, but that morning I spaced out and needed to look at the measurements. Hungry Heart was on the counter next to me. I flipped it open and just about fainted when I saw that instead of 1/3 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons of baking powder, I had written 1/3 cup baking powder and 2 teaspoons sugar.
One. Third. Cup. Of baking powder.
Think about that weird, metallic soap taste even a pinch of baking powder adds, and then imagine a third of a cup of that. In your scone.
At that point in my career, Hungry Heart was a series of novellas called “The Way to Her Heart,” It had been free for over a year, and had been downloaded over ten thousand times. First of all: How had I not noticed for a YEAR?? Second: How had ten thousand people not noticed?
I can only assume two things: not one of those ten thousand people tried the recipe. OR. Some of them did try the recipe and did not live to tell the tale.
But even though I blew this one the first time around, you should try the recipes in my books. They are fixed now. I had four people check my recipes before this new printing, including one pastry chef. You’re good, calm down.
The Correct, Won’t Make You Barf Scone Recipe from Hungry Heart.
The magic trick of this recipe is that you grate the butter into the dry ingredients. Some people are very efficient using two forks, or one of those pastry cutter gadgets, but I always wind up with flour in my hair. A cheese grater shreds your cold butter into perfect, tiny bits, and it’s much easier to use.
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup very cold unsalted butter
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
1 large egg
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Additions * (optional, in any combination and as much as you like): chocolate chips, white chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, citrus zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom
Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a cheese grater, grate the cold butter into the flour mixture. Mix with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a small bowl, stir together the cream, egg, and vanilla. Add the cream mixture to the flour/butter mixture and stir it with a fork until combined. Add any additions you want.
Drop large mounds of dough (maybe a quarter cup size) onto a lined cookie sheet. If you prefer, you can pat the dough out and cut it into biscuit shape, squares or wedge shapes. I like the craggy peaks of a drop scone, but you do you.
Bake 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the scones from the cookie sheet to a wire rack and let cool about 10 minutes. Serve warm. Cooked scones freeze well, though they are delicate.
*My current favorite version of this scone is a Triple Vanilla. It’s hard to believe I eat a baked good that doesn’t have chocolate but check this out: I scrape the seeds out of one vanilla bean and rub it into the flour mixture before I add the grated butter. (This is in addition to the vanilla extract you add to the egg.) After the scones are cooked and cooled, I make a glaze: one cup of powdered sugar, the seeds from another vanilla bean, and a few tablespoons of cream. Stir until you get a pourable glaze, adding more cream if necessary. Drizzle over cooled scones. These are intensely fragrant, and people’s eyes tend to roll back in their heads when they taste them, so don’t feed them to anyone who is driving a car.