Test kitchen tackles the EasyBake oven

The recalled model of the Easy-Bake oven®, getting its temperature taken.

Come August, we’ll be launching a new line of mixes for kids. We want to introduce children to the fun of making their own baked goods from quality ingredients. Of course, during our chitchat about kids’ baking, the subject of the Easy-Bake oven came up. My mission was clear.

Halley Silver, who works on our web team, has two young daughters and an Easy-Bake oven (an older version), and she brought it in so we could experiment. The newer model at Hasbrotoyshop.com looks more like a microwave than the one pictured here.

ebtools2.jpg
Top left to right: mixing bowl, cake pan, measuring spoon.
Center: pusher Bottom: pan retrieval contraption.

The first thing we do when we test any new piece of equipment is take stock of all of the pieces/parts. Halley’s oven came with 2 round pans, a mixing bowl, a pusher, a retrieval device to put into the oven that’s supposed to capture the hot pan and remove it without little fingers getting burned, and our favorite piece: a multi-armed measuring spoon that looked like the culinary version of a Japanese throwing star. In pink.

ebpanvolume.jpg
Capacity of the cake pan? 3 ounces.

I grew up with the earlier models, manufactured by Kenner. Today I learned that the EasyBake oven is the invention of one Ronald Howes, who also worked on such iconic toys as Play Doh and the Spirograph. When the EasyBake first debuted, its heat source was a single 100-watt light bulb. Since 2003, they’ve been made with a real heating element.

The first order of business was to see what temperature the oven maintained. Luckily, we have remote probe thermometers. I set one up, using the retrieval device to hold it in place, set a timer for 10 minutes, and plugged in the oven.dscn1134.jpg

I know it’s hard to see here, but after 10 minutes the inside of our little machine measured 347°F. Which is pretty much dead on. The temperature cycled up and down as all ovens do, but stayed in the range of 325 to 350°F as long as it was running.

Time for the next test. I was working on some blueberry muffins, and decided to give some of the batter a spin in the EasyBake. I dutifully greased on of the two pans, filled it 3/4 full with batter, and sprinkled the top with a little sparkling sugar.

ebsprinkle.jpg
My hands look like the giant’s in Gulliver’s travels…

Now, since I was only baking a teeny tiny bit of batter, and I knew the oven could hold a decent temperature, I decided to try baking my muffin for 15 minutes before checking to see how it was doing. That’s when bad things started happening to this well-intentioned test kitchen person.

I used the big pink shovel device, which needs to be shoved all the way in, to surround the hot cake pan, then removed with the pan inside. There’s a lever that opens a trap door in the front of the shovel, and you open that to slide the cake pan out.

ebretreive1.jpg
Goin’ in….

Much to my dismay, once the pink shovel was put in, it didn’t want to come out. At all. Much jiggling and body English ensued, and I finally extracted the muffin, which was half done, at best. Back in it went, with the timer set for another 3 minutes.

ebcapture.jpg

After all that, the top of the muffin was kind of mangled, because it had domed just enough to get scraped off by the top of the pink shovel. I returned it to the oven, thinking “there’s got to be a better way to get this out of here 3 minutes from now.” I was beginning to see why this model had been recalled.

ezafterprof.jpg

While I waited for the 3 minutes to elapse, I speculated about how to avoid the chicken dance I’d just performed trying to extract my muffin from the oven. Monte, a new mother who was much involved in working on the kids’ mixes, said: “If we only had a little peel, like you use in a pizza oven.”

I said, “We do. It’s called a spatula.” Thus inspired, I armed myself and waited for the timer to go off again.

ebspatula.jpg

Easier said than done. I tried holding the trap door open with the plastic pusher, and sliding the spatula under the pan. No go. Next I tried a pair of silicone tongs that we sell in the catalogue.

ebredtongs.jpg

Seemed like a good idea, but the silicone was just too slippery to get a grip on the little round pan. In desperation, I went for my old restaurant standby, a sturdy pair of metal tongs. They worked.

After 27 minutes, I finally had a muffin that didn’t look raw in the middle. It also had the look of a baked good that had fallen down and scraped it’s knee, but it tasted pretty good.

ezbkafter.jpg

So here’s what I think. If you have kids, have an Easy-Bake Oven, and want to get them involved, it’s an easy thing to do. If what you’re baking can reasonably be cooked in a 350°F oven, tell the kids to fire up their toy and give them a few ounces of your batter or dough. If it’s liquid, like a cake batter, a scant quarter cup is about the right amount. There’s no reason you couldn’t put one cookie’s worth of dough in the little pan, either. I’d say give whatever you’re baking 80% of the baking time called for and then take a peek.

Trust me to find the hard way to go Easy-Bake.

Susan Reid
About

Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently enjoying her fourth career after stints in advertising, running restaurants, and teaching at the New England Culinary Institute. She joined King Arthur in 2002 to ...

comments

  1. Erin

    That is wild! Although I can definitely see why it was recalled. I know my 6 year old self would have had a total hissy fit if my muffin top or cookie got mangled aka eaten by the EasyBake oven. Tears would have definitely been on the menu. It will be interesting to see how the new version holds up.

    Reply
  2. Eric

    The key to Easy-Bake success is to avoid leaveners. Fudge brownies, shortbread, sand tarts – anything dense works *really* well.

    Reply
  3. Alissa

    My daughter was given an Easy Bake oven when she was 2. I didn’t give it to her until it was too late and she was 5 years old and helping bake real cookies. So it never went over very big.

    However, she loves Food Network and Bobby Flay. I found a book at a bargain book shop called, “The Easy Bake Gourmet” by David Hoffman with original recipes by Bobby Flay, Gale Gand, Rick Bayless, Mary Sue Milliken, Colete Peters and more. Recipes like PB & J Stuffed Shortbread Rounds, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Roasted Quail Breast with Wild Mushrooms and Pomme Anna, and Pear Streusel Coffee Cake. I never tried them but still have the book. Maybe you can give me advice on to translate them to the real oven. (just kidding) Anyway, I thought you might find it interesting.

    Reply
  4. Laureli

    I loved my Easy-Bake oven! I had the Mrs. Fields model, which came with some pretty delicious packaged mixes. With that model, I didn’t have too much trouble with retrieval, but recently I was babysitting and attempting to bake with a newer Easy-Bake, and had precisely the above issues!

    Reply
  5. Elsie

    First thing to do with the Easy Bake oven would be to send it to Grandma’s house. As a grandmother of two little girls I have lots of patience for baking one little cake or cookie at a time. Its worth the look on a little girl’s face when it comes out. Even more fun when it can be eaten for lunch. I have eaten many things some experienced bakers would call unedible and have survived nicely.

    Reply
  6. Karen

    I hadn’t seen one of these in years. It looks like a case of redesign ruin. The older models only used a pusher to put it in, and then to push it further out the otherside. the need for a remover gadget to pull it out the way it went in seems like an anti-improvement!
    (I had a not-Easybake that opened like a normal oven door, providing more than enough room for curious hands to reach in. There baking rack might have deterred adult fingers from touching the bulb, but not my 9-year old fingers! Ouch! How that toy was allowed on the market, even back then, I just don’t understand!

    Reply
  7. Bobbie Shahan

    Oh,thanks for good laugh!!!! My two oldest Daughters were kindergarden and first grade when I first considered an Easy Bake type for a Christmas gift. I did a bit of research, other freaked out Moms who had purchased an oven as a gift for their Kids. I ended up going to the store and buying regular Brownie mixes, etc. How would I ever be able to divide the results of the baking evenly enough to avoid a fight?? I figured a regular sized mix would have enough dough to allow for 10 licked fingers, a Blop on the floor, and a good enough reason for Mom to help with the regular oven. Worked pretty well and got them wanting to do more. And this memory was 47 years ago. BAS

    Reply
  8. ancameni

    I had purchased an easy-bake oven for my daughters. They were already used to my baking and it was such a mess to make and to bake and it did not look to great. It did not go over well. My kids are now 12 and 8 and unfortunately have no interest in making dough or batter but scooping, licking and eating.
    When i was little (mumble-mumble years ago) my grandmother had bought a real oven for me. It was like a real oven. It could be preheated, had a cookie sheet and oven rack and two electric stove top burners. I had little cook and bake ware to go along with it. It was the greatest thing for me to get some leftover batter and bake my own cake. Also insisting that my cake tasted better than grandmas.

    Reply
  9. Anna

    This model was recalled because so many kids got burned. It’s the design. If a hand is stuck in the oven, it won’t come out or by the time it does, it’s burned. I sent mine back and got a refund, but didn’t replace it with the newer model. My results looked a lot like the photos. Over time, I adapted the oven pan to use with regular Duncan Hines mixes and put things like M&M’s in the batter instead of doing icing. But, the truth is that my kids just prefer to do real baking with Mom! Anna

    Reply
  10. Nina

    My daughter had one of the early models that baked with the light bulb. I’m sorry to say we never had any trouble at all, baking with either their mixes or some of the batter from one of my real cake projects. That’s with mom’s supervision, of course, but who wouldn’t?

    Reply
  11. Jill Rhodes

    My daughter who is now 49 years old had one of the first EasyBake ovens when she was about five. She created and created and rapidly graduated to a real oven, with help of course. Today, every morning she grinds her own wheat to make her own flour to make her own bread, makes English muffins and things I can only dream about. That little light-bulb oven was the start of a remarkable baking and cooking talent.
    I was sorry to see the poor-looking excuse for an oven when the new one came out. She didn’t buy one for her girls.

    Reply
  12. Linda

    I guess I’m a lucky one. My 10 year old got that easy bake 2 years ago and used it over and over and was crushed when it was recalled. She sometimes had issues getting things out but quicky figured it out. I found some recipes online and she would sit there mixing things like 4 tablespoonfuls of flour with a drop of vanilla… she even used to use the top to melt chocolate and dip strawberries.
    We got her the new one, and she is still thrilled. I think she is happier because she knows she can use it and I don’t have to ‘mother’ her and take things out of the oven!
    I get too nervous with my 3 daughters (10,7,3) because I spent too much time working in a burn ward!
    She said it would be a dream for her to grow up and work at KAF!!

    Reply
  13. tar

    I had an Easy-Bake oven when I was younger. It was fun and all, but the novelty wore off quickly enough, parts were lost, and anyway baking with Mom or Grandma was a million times more fun.

    What I’d like to know is why anyone thought the Easy-Bake Oven needed a redesign in the first place, considering the newest version goes back to the “push in side 1, bake with lightbulb, pull out side 2″ method of Easy-Bakery and all. If anything, making it look more like a real oven only encourages kids to try and be Big Girls and be Just Like Mommy and use the actual, real, far more dangerous oven. After all, what little girl *didn’t* get pretend or Barbie makeup at some point and then decide to experiment with Mommy’s real stuff, with disastrous results?

    Reply
  14. Stacey, library Mom

    I just had to comment here. At one point, KAF offered some kiddie pans that were just the size of MY old Easy-Bake oven pans. I bought them for my daughter, and we cook her baked goods in the toaster oven. More control over temperature, more portions at a time since two pans fit, and the oven is out of her reach for opening.

    Her 1st birthday cake was her own size layer cake that she helped mix! It also preserved a regular cake for the rest of us, while still letting us take 1st birthday cake photos… ;-)

    If you ever offer these mini pans again, I’m buying more sets for friends with kids…

    Stacey, stay tuned – kids’ mini pans will be available online within a matter of a week or so? And in the next catalogue, Aug. 4. Along with some SUPER kids’ mixes we developed… YUM. – PJH

    Reply
  15. Kathleen

    My daughter is 16 and wants her third easy bake for Christmas! She cooks all kinds of things in it. Meatloaf, hamburgers, cakes, potatoes and vegetable medleys! Your never too old for easy bake! Keep the recipes coming.

    Reply
  16. Edie

    I wish my grandchildren could have a play oven like I had. It looked like a real oven. The door opened just like a real oven. No problems what so ever. I used it a lot and never got burned. I used Mom’s left over doughs for cookies and leftover pie crust cut out cookies with sugar and cinnamon on them. Wish I would have kept it.

    Reply
  17. Linda...Michigan Teacher

    I love that you did this. I am looking for recipies that have been individualized for kids. I want to have kids measure, make and create their own goodies as a classroom activity. We can take our treats down to the kitchen to bake. The important thing is that they are measuring ingredients on their own. Mini/individual sized recipes are great for teachers. You should create a book that uses minimal ingredients. I would love it!

    Reply
  18. Sylvie

    Question, a friend of mine has an older style easy bake oven, it uses a light bulb but not the newer kind ones. It was bought within the past 10 yrs. My question is can I use the new mixes being put out with this older model oven? I’d like to use the old oven if possible but need to know soon so I can grab up a new one for Xmas if needed

    Sorry, Sylvie, we’re not Easy-Bake experts! And I don’t want to possibly steer you wrong. I’d suggest you call the Easy-Bake folks and ask them – I’m sure they’d know. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Patricia, try eBay – or Google it. That would be your best bet, for these older versions… Good luck. PJH

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *