I just received an e-mail from an avid home baker, Debra, requesting help with a recipe from my first book, Brother Juniper's Bread Book: Slow Rise as Method and Metaphor. The recipe is called, "The World's Greatest Brownies," and I really think they are, but they were not working for Debra. It took only a second to figure out why: she had an early edition of the book that contained a fatal typo--the recipe is supposed to call for 1 1/4 cups of flour but the first two printings of the book listed 3 1/4 cups of flour. Ouch!! Years ago we corrected this error and I have done all I could to notify owners of the early editions to please correct them. Now, due to the magic of blogs, I hope to reach more of you who may not have changed this in your old copies (later editions, as well as the new reprint, have already been corrected). If you make it with 3 1/4 cups of flour it will definitely NOT make the world's greates brownies but something closer to chocolate concrete.
We discovered this typo fifteen years ago when a reader called me at the bakery, which we still owned at the time, in tears, wondering what she was doing wrong. When I opened the book and saw the problem I assured her it wasn't her but I who was at fault. By then, the first two printings were already on the shelves. Yikes!
This brings up an interesting point: nearly every cook book has an error or two. Some of these have been collected and written about by newspaper food writers and can probably be searched via the internet (it would make a good book to track them all down), but it seems that no matter how much proof reading one does, something always slips through--I think even Julia Child had a few typos in her books.
In my second book (Sacramental Magic in a Small Town Cafe) an ingredient was missing from the Texas Chili recipe that I was certain had been in the manuscript. Sure enough, it was and was even in the final galleys that I proof-read and okayed. Somehow, on the way to the printer, the bottom ingredient (cumin seed) "fell off the page." Nobody at the publisher knew how this had happened, but it had. How can one make chili without cumin? You can't, at least not good chili (it should have read: 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds, lightly toasted). So, we had to print up errata slips and put them in as many books as possible. We also found a typo in the same book in the gumbo recipe, in the roux. It was supposed to say 2 1/2 cups of flour and 1 cup of vegetable oil but instead instead it had been transposed to 2 1/2 cups of vegetable oil and 1 cup of flour. I'm sure anyone who followed that recipe saw a major spike in his or her cholesterol count (if they didn't keel over, clutching their chest!).
Anyhow, I hope we caught all the typos in the new book but if we didn't, one of you will and I will, again, be embarrassed. But at least now we have the blog to get the word out. Meanwhile, try the brownie recipe but please, please, use only 1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour. Then let me know if you agree that they are, indeed, the world's greatest brownies.
May Your Bread Always Rise!