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Recipes Redux

August 18, 1994

I read your story about Cookbook Trouble (Aug. 4) and it reminded me of the following, which I thought you might be interested in.

A day or two after my first book was published my editor received a call from an angry reader who complained that my recipe for lemon-buttermilk cake didn't work.

I thought it was a silly call (I had made the cake many times) but I tried it again and the reader was right. It didn't work. I made it over and over and over again. I tried everything. I never did find out what was wrong, so I asked my editor if we could delete the recipe in future printings. (Actually, I asked if we could recall the first printing. I said "General Motors recalls cars.")

I replaced the recipe with a caraway seed cake.

After that I started getting angry letters from readers who told me that the lemon-buttermilk cake was the reason they bought the book. Their friends were making it and it was wonderful. They wanted the recipe.

One woman wrote to say that she made a lot of money for her church by selling copies of that recipe.

It is now 20 years later. The book is still being printed without that recipe--and I still get complaints from people who want that one recipe.

Me? I can't make it.

--MAIDA HEATTER

Miami Beach, Fla.

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