Monday, April 23, 2012

A Time for Scones and a Time to Write

The students sat chatting, drinking coffee and eating stale scones in the Gilley Cafeteria's annex. The rain and thunder roared outside.

“I can’t believe I missed seeing Martha Stewart here on campus,” Morgan Walker replied.

“Martha owns a place nearby in Northeast Harbor and likes to boat out to Gull Island whenever she is off set,” Peter Dugua said. He gulped some coffee. “Martha knows Sieur de Cadillac's President, so that is probably why her production people did a TV program about our Bar Harbor college campus.”

Roland Donovan nodded. “Morgan, if I would have known you wanted to meet Martha Stewart, I could have arranged for you to be with our group.”

“Sure looks like a Nor'easter is hitting Bar Harbor today,” Danny Fennchar said, biting into a scone while staring out the large window. “Not too bad for something baked yesterday.”

“Well, I make the best scones in Maine,” Morgan replied. “I have been following Martha Stewart's recipes since I started watching her cooking programs on TV.”

Peter raised his eyes. “You can bake scones?” He shook his head. “My mom gave up trying to bake scones. But I love them.”

Morgan smiled. “Scones aren't that hard to make. Just follow the recipe and be certain to preheat the oven.”

“I always wondered what went into these little things,” Peter said pointing to the few scones on their plate.

“Do you really want to know,” Morgan asked.

Peter nodded. “Yes. What are those magic ingredients?”

“Flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, baking soda, vanilla, heavy cream, fresh blueberries, and eggs.” Morgan took out her tablet and wrote the ingredients. “Oh yes, after they cool, spread some softly whipped cream cheese on the top for a real treat.”

“When blueberry season comes, will you bake some scones for us,” Danny asked. “I bet your scones are much better than what the college cafeteria makes.” He held out the last piece, and then popped it into his mouth. “Hum!”

They all chuckled and drank some more coffee.

“Get me an audience with Martha Stewart, and I'll bake you all scones every week,” Morgan replied. She looked at the clock. “Right now we better get moving. Class starts in a few minutes.”

Morgan, Peter, Danny, and Roland are a few of the characters featured in Secrets in the Fog: The Invisibility Project and Danny's First Love by Ellen Spain and published by eTreasures Publishing.


Martha Stewart’s Blueberry Scone Recipe
used by Morgan Walker in Secrets in the Fog: The Invisibility Project

2 cups all-purpose pre-sifted white flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces the size of peas
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing tops
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in center.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Stir in the blueberries and zest.
Whisk the heavy cream and egg in a large glass measuring cup.
Press your thumb in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the cream mixture. Stir lightly with fork until the dough holds together.
Gently pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to mix well.
Pat dough into a 6-inch square baking pan about 1 1/4 inches thick and cut into four 3-inch squares. Then cut squares in half on the diagonal to form eight triangles. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
Brush tops with cream.
Bake until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer scones to wire racks to cool.
Enjoy with whipped cream cheese.

Interview with the author: Ellen Spain: the Secret Scone Recipe

I like to bake and learned some great techniques from my late mother. But with the time constraints as a novelist, as eTp's Acquisitions Editor, as an educator, and as a caring wife,  I found my baking time now started around midnight, when I couldn't focus anymore hours on my computer screen and everyone else was asleep.  I still love the taste of scones, but now I have to drive pretty far to buy a scone at Starbucks.

“Wait a minute, Ellen,” I muttered. “Do your research. This is the twenty-first century. Scone making has to be easier than those Martha Stewart recipes.”
I was correct.              Now I have a sure-fired way to make scones the easy way.  I checked out the local department stores and gourmet grocery, and ended up finding everything I needed to bake great scones at But you can find the following where-ever you wish.

Here is my secret scone recipe:
1.  Bake in a Nordic Ware Scone pan (I also have a cast iron scone pan but I prefer the cast-aluminum surface because it is easier to clean). Do not wash these pans in your dishwasher. Always spray the scone pan before you add the scone mix.

2.  Use Krusteaz Scone Mix. I tried all the brands and prefer this one because it is really fool-proof. I use 2% milk and if the mix is too lumpy, I add an additional tablespoon.

3.  I like to add cinnamon chips to the dry ingredients. Use the expensive brand for a fantastic taste however, I find the Hershey brand is okay and much cheaper in price.

4.  If I want cherries or blueberries, I use the dried ones mixing about a half of a cup into the dry ingredients first. Beware: fresh berries cause the dry ingredients to absorb the fruit flavor and the end scone has the consistency of a soft muffin rather than a heavy scone with a hint of fruit taste. You can also use raisins with the cinnamon chips.  I like to prepare other foods using dried fruit, so I purchase a four-pound box at Amazon since it is a lot cheaper than buying the dried fruit in my local grocery store.

“Good job, Ellen.” And people still think I slave away at the over baking yummy things for breakfast rather than pounding away on my keyboard all day. But having that great cup of coffee and a scone in the morning while checking my email in my PJ's is a novelist's dream job. Oh yes, one problem: scone crumbs jam up the buttons on my keyboard.  Enjoy the scones fellow authors.


Ellen Spain is a retired Federal Investigator, now turned author, editor, researcher, and educator. Ellen is active with EPIC, PennWriters, RWA, SCBWI, and the Pittsburgh East Writers.

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