Central Arkansans are no strangers to the magic Kelli Marks can create in a kitchen. The local baker has a resume full of food industry accomplishments, including running her own storefront bakery for four years, and her treats are a favorite at galas, weddings and celebrations of all kinds.
But her latest creation isn't made of flour and eggs. Marks' new cookbook "Easy One-Bowl Baking" hit shelves in August and is an exercise in simplifying the baking process without sacrificing flavor.
For Marks, this was a long time coming.
"People often ask what you wanted to be when you were a child, and my first career choice was author (technically it was astronaut, but after that it was to write books)," Marks says. "In early 2020, I decided that I was going to make something I had dreamed of when I closed my bakery a reality: I was going to write my cookbook. Since I was no longer baking for people at large, I figured I could share the recipes they had loved.
"Almost immediately after announcing my plans, I was contacted by a publisher to write a cookbook. Working with a team who knew what they were doing and could help me on the project was more than I had expected. I plan to go back to writing my other books soon."
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Alongside the book's release, Marks will be a featured author at the Central Arkansas Library System's virtual Six Bridges Book Festival later this month. She'll take part in a joint session with "The Living Table" author Abby Turner where they will discuss their respective books, and Marks will also lead a bake-along workshop for those interested in a more hands-on experience.
To whet readers' appetites, Marks is sharing the perfect seasonal scone recipe from "Easy One-Bowl Baking," which is available wherever books are sold, including locally at WordsWorth Books.
Pancetta & Rosemary Scones
Makes: 8 scones
Prep time: 20 minutes | Bake time: 25 minutes
"I feel like scones get a bad rap. They’re dry, chalky and unflavored lumps that tend to get overlooked when on a spread with other options. That is not the case with these. The fresh rosemary gives them a brightness while the pancetta is a salty bite with just the hint of sweetness of honey on top."
• 1/2 cup diced pancetta
• 1 heaping tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 tbsp. baking powder
• 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
• 8 tbsp. (1 stick) + 1 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, divided
• 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream, plus more for brushing
• 1 tbsp. honey
• freshly cracked black pepper for sprinkling
Substitution tip: Don't have fresh rosemary? Dried will work in a pinch, just use 2 tsp.
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Spread out the pancetta on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendering out and the pancetta begins to brown. After 5 minutes, stir in the rosemary to release its oils and bake for another 5 minutes, until the pancetta is browned. Set aside to cool.
3. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and garlic powder. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate 8 tbsp. butter into the flour mixture, pausing to toss the flour over the butter occasionally. Once grated, use your fingers to break up any butter clumps and distribute the mixture evenly. Add the pancetta and rosemary mixture and the cheddar cheese. Toss to combine.
4. Slowly add the cream, pausing to fluff the mixture with one hand as you go. Once all the cream has been added, use the heel of your palm to push the dough down into the bottom and side of the bowl, then grab an edge and fold it over the rest of the dough. Spin the bowl and repeat, kneading the dough and incorporating the bits in the bottom of the bowl.
5. Once combined, place the dough on the baking sheet and pat it into a circle about 8 inches across and 1 inch thick. Cut the circle into 8 wedges and space them out on the pan. Brush the tops of the scones with some cream.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the scones have risen and are golden brown.
7. While the scones are baking, wash and dry the bowl. Put the remaining 1 tbsp. butter and honey in the bowl and microwave until melted, about 30 seconds.
8. When the scones come out of the oven, brush the tops with the honey-butter mixture and sprinkle with cracked pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.