April Fools in the Kitchen: baking blunders at King Arthur Flour – and beyond

Eileen Talanian_halfsheet linzer squares

Thanks so much to all of you who submitted baking blunder photos for this blog post. We’ve shared a selection below; for more, check out #bakingblunder on Instagram

“Just as I reached the dining table where I was cooling other Christmas cookies, a half-sheet of hot Linzer Squares slipped out of the pan and onto the floor. I was so sad!” – Eileen T.

Well, Eileen, we can understand your sadness, and sympathize; the disaster pictured above must have been devastating – at the time.

But now, a few months after the fact – don’t you find yourself chuckling, just a little bit?

After all, who doesn’t like a pratfall, guilty fun though it may be?

The classic slip on a banana peel. The Three Stooges throwing pies.

Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory.

crumble1And me, with a couple of shaky attempts at super-tender fruitcake (left), and blueberry muffins (right). My results were… well, pretty crummy (sic).

Patrease Woodside_cupcake fail

As for Patrease W., she knows where to point the finger: “Pam for Baking let me down with these yellow cupcakes. At least that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.”

Just like the cupcakes, right, Patrease?

BundtSo, is it the voluptuous curves (read: opportunities for clinging cake) in bundt-style pans that prove so problematic? I know what happened with mine (upper right): I impatiently turned the hot cake out of the pan too soon.

Suzanne J.’s cake (lower left) “slid off the cooling rack while turning.” Join the “user error” club, Suzanne!

As for Patty P., she did the cake version of making lemonade from lemons: “Double Chocolate Cherry Bundt. It because a Black Forest Trifle instead.” Great recovery, Patty!

cakefailSometimes even trifle isn’t possible, though. “King Arthur Christmas Upside Down Cake from the 2012 catalogue. Epic fail, not one cake but 2 cakes,” notes Cheryl L.

And from Bev N.: “Angel food cake from scratch. Looked perfect in the oven. Turned it over to cool on a bottle (like my mother taught me). Immediately fell out of the pan.”

Bev, we trust you enjoyed the Leinie, at least!

blunder22Been here, done this… but Gina, I love your style!

Pam Vickers_shipwreck“Argh! It was several years ago, but the pirate ship that cracked became a shipwreck for a little boy’s beach birthday,” says Pam V.

Knowing little boys and their propensity for joyfully wrecking things, we’re sure he loved it.

blunder6File under: the best laid plans…

Katrina K.: “The only disaster I photographed (and most heartbreaking). These labour-intensive Hi-Hat mini cupcakes (homemade meringue “hats”) needed to be chilled before getting a final dip in chocolate… The top tray fell into the bottom tray and in a mere second destroyed hours of work. Lesson learned; empty out fridge!”

Deanne S-D.: “So last year before Easter, there was a cute photo circulating on Pinterest of little bunny dinner rolls. I thought I was being brilliant by coming up with a mash-up recipe of those rolls and hot cross buns. Let’s just say my Hot Cross Bunny Buns turned out looking more like mutant Hello Kitties that are crying.”

At least those tears are sweet rather than bitter, right?

Next up: self-styled messes.

Picture a hot biscuit topped with ice cream and caramel; warm strawberry shortcake; ice cream on a summer day…

blunder9…and chocolate cream pie that hasn’t quite set.

Go ahead, picture them; I did, with my iPhone 5, which is what I use for all the pictures in my blog posts.

Unfortunately, between the heat of the treat and the fragility of its topping, plus sticky fingers, a skinny, slippery phone, and the need for three hands –  well, let’s just say the moment quickly goes from marvelous to messy.

Note the eating implements, though – I can attest that looks have nothing to do with taste!

blunder10Don’t you love that moment when you look into the oven, see what’s happening, and realize there’s not… a… single… thing you can do about it?

Larry Fabreze_icing bag explosionI laughed out loud at this one when I saw it. It’s just SO clear what happened.

I feel your pain, Larry F. “Icing bag explosion,” indeed!

And now, let’s take a trip through the hazardous minefield of everyone’s favorite baking challenge:

Kristen Moya Gardiner_ugly pie

Pie.

Kristen G. notes, “When I first set out to learn the art of pie-making, I made a lot of terrible, disgusting pies. This apple is one of them. I named it Ugly Pie.”

blunder12Kristen, you’re not the only one with the recipe for Ugly Pie. These two entrants in our annual King Arthur Flour employee pie contest tasted good, for sure.

But appearance? As the old chant goes, “U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, you’re UGLY!”

blunder14I’ve made my share of epic fail pies, it’s true.

But I’ve also learned how to salvage them – at least partway.

Ditch the crust; re-purpose the filling.

blunder13Or, TRY to ditch the crust.

Sometimes, usually right before lunch, even epic pie fails look good to the taste-testers here at King Arthur Flour!

One of the things I tested while writing a post on pie thickeners was to pre-cook berry filling in the microwave.

blunder15Surprise! A heavy saucer set atop the berry container does NOT stop their juice from bubbling up and finding its way down the side of the bowl, onto the protective silicone mat, AND from there onto the walls and ceiling of the microwave.

Solution: absorbent paper towel replaces saucer.

HA: gotcha!

blunder8Two pies in progress that EVENTUALLY matched taste to appearance – though in this first go-around, both lacked that certain je ne sais quoi, as far as looks go.

Hey, taste trumps beauty any day, right? So I’m sure you want the recipes for Quick Pots de Crême, turned into chocolate cream pie; and Chocolate-Banana-Peanut Butter Icebox Pie.

Now, we all know baking is full of choices. “I don’t have that pan. I wonder if I can substitute this one instead?”

Heidi Wefers_cake pan blunderHmmm, Heidi W., guess not. “Didn’t read the directions carefully. Was supposed to use a 10″ pan, not 9″!”

blunder17Overly enthusiastic Greek Easter Bread dough, meet wildly enthusiastic pizza crust dough.

blunder19And explosively enthusiastic no-knead dough. And sourdough starter.

Karen B.: “Do not seal a Cambro container of bread dough and forget to put it in the fridge before going to bed. The picture does not show the dough all over the ceiling, cabinet tops, floor, and somehow on the pantry door 6 or 8 feet sideways…”

Bread dough can be rambunctious, it’s true. Thankfully, we usually manage to turn it into a wonderfully tasty, golden loaf.

Elizabeth Davis_challahOr not.

“Oven electrical circuits went haywire when I was baking challah,” says Elizabeth D. “Instead of baking and browning nicely, the broiler came on and voilà. Charred crust.”

And a beautifully shiny charred crust it is, Elizabeth!

Ovens aren’t the only culprits, though.

blunder20Says Debbie (loaf pictured at upper right), “Guess yeast bread REQUIRES yeast, eh?”

And, in a repeat appearance from Patrease W., she of the crumbled yellow cupcakes: “Sourdough went a little overboard in the oven!” She calls this “the loaf with a nose.”

blunder21OK, these just crack me up…

On the left, my first attempt at caramel icing. The only “ice” in this icing was its brittle texture; it shattered at the lightest touch.

Katie W. writes, “My first Boston Cream Pie. With a toddler and 2-month-old baby, my foggy brain forgot that I’d already added the cornstarch, so it was doubled. I couldn’t bring myself to chuck all my hard work and nice ingredients. Tasted great – texture was a bit hard to get past, though.”

Well, Katie, this takes “cream filling” to a new level of viscosity – but toddlers love finger food, right?

Hey, in the end, (baking) hope springs eternal.

Kalisa Poole_bowl ruined in the oven

Says Kalisa P., “Turns out when you turn your oven on to provide a warm spot for cinnamon roll dough to rise, you have to turn the oven OFF before you put the bowl in. This poor bowl endured about 20 minutes at 200°F. Ruined the bowl and the dough. D’oh!”

So let’s raise a cup (or a melted plastic bowl) to triumphing over adversity – in all its delicious guises!

But wait – there’s more! Over 100 readers submitted their own memorable blunders in story form, rather than pictures. For instance, check out Keith’s story:

“I made a double batch of lavash when I was 12, just started baking. The recipe said let the dough rise for 4 hours. I had doubled everything else, so I went away for 8 hours. When we came home, the dough had flowed over the edge of the bread-bowl and sat there in the corner, looking like the Blob. A pirate-blob. The towel I’d put over the bowl, a jaunty red, looked like a bandanna on a sailor’s head; it touched nothing but dough, even to the corners. My dad asked what the heck that was. I said it was time to punch it down. He slugged it in the center like he was going for the title. It collapsed around his hand, shrinking down and sucking him in. He screamed and flailed around, smashing dough off on the cupboards, the blender, the stove, the air conditioner…. Thank heavens he liked the lavash.”

Enjoy more of our readers’ baking blunders in Give Us Your Best: Um, Make That Your Worst; scroll down to the comments section.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Gloria in Pgh

    Thanks PJ and all contributors to this post. The baking blunders post is my favorite of the year. I have some doosies myself … like my first attempt at a lemon and raspberry torte. I don’t know where I went wrong but suffice it to say the cake layers of the torte, which were supposed to be light and fluffy, were flat and HEAVY. Not to be deterred, I marshaled on and put the dessert together with the lemon curd and raspberry layers. What a mess! the layers slid off each other onto the counter and were, impossible though it may seem, even heavier still! So my sister and I decided that we can’t eat it but maybe some lucky bird or critter would like it. After all, they’ll eat anything; right? So we put each layer on its own paper plate and hurled them like Frisbees out into the back yard. My sister’s layer landed in the yard but mine hit a tree … and just stuck there. The next morning we looked to see what was left of the “treats” for the backyard birds and critters. Everything was still there. Even the animals and birds did not want it! Some poor creature tried to drag off the layer that was in the yard and apparently was not strong enough to do so. My layer that was stuck to the tree showed signs that something tried it but apparently was not interested in eating any more. Such is life for the home baker!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Oh, we have all had those loaves /bricks that even the wildlife would not touch. Good think the successes outweigh (he he) the failures! ~ MJ

  2. Nell

    I’d forgotten today was April Fool’s Day… When I saw the baking blunders e-mail in my inbox I had to read it right away. I’m wiping away tears of laughter… ‘The loaf with a nose’… the post-nuclear-holocaust mutant hello-kitties… the UGLY pie… the hi-hat cupcakes that look like disaster victims staggering around in shock… I look forward to your April Fool’s baking blunders post all year. Too funny!

    Reply
  3. Bev

    Thanks for the best series of laughs I’ve had for a long time! Now I’m wondering if it’s safe to bake the tart I promised for this evening…

    Reply
    1. Vicki

      I laughed tears. But what I really want to know is – when did the photographers get into my kitchen?

  4. cwcdesign

    PJ, I love all these pictures submitted by your readers, but I do have to admit that I miss all the ones from the KAF staff. Not only are they funny, but they remind us mere mortals that KAF bakers make mistakes, too. Or, did they not make any mistakes this past year?

    Happy April!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Carol, look closely – you’ll see which ones are mine, as I identify them within the copy. As for the remainder of the staff – I’d assume they make mistakes, they just don’t chronicle them like I do with my own! :) PJH

  5. KC

    Note to those reading this: don’t read it at work. It was very hard to keep the tears of laughter from flowing out…
    I could definitely relate to some of those (the overflowing sourdough crock, the too-small pan for the batter volume).
    This is a great day to share these “adventures” – it’s these moments that makes our successes so sweet!

    Reply
    1. TJ

      Too late! My coworker just came over with a box of tissues because she thought I was crying… I AM crying, but they are tears of laughter.

  6. primadonna

    I made some divinity candy once which totally flopped. It was sticky and hard and uneatable, == I thought. I found an empty pan in the pantry where it was waiting to be discarded. Two boys ate it anyway, but have complained about how bad it was for the last 20 years.

    Reply
  7. AnneMarie

    Love goof day!

    We are still, 30 years later, trying to figure out how my, then 8 year old, sister managed to get red liquid jello all over the kitchen CEILING. It’s never been the same.

    Reply
  8. Mary Beth Krakowski

    I thought that I was the only one that had an oven switch from bake to broil. I didn’t know how to cook when we got married. I had invited a dear friend, who was a great cook for dinner. I wanted everything to be perfect. I was baking a cherry pie from cherries we had grown. Mid-way through the oven switched to broil, the pie was charred on top and the crust was raw dough!!

    Reply
  9. S Shea

    Great stories. I’ve had many blunders, perhaps the worst of which was the Raspberry Meringue Cookies. I’d never made them but the recipe was from a trusted cookbook so one Friday night I set out to make them. The batter came out fine and I set the cookies in a long slow oven. When done they looked ok but one bite immediately told me they were the worst cookies I’d ever made. I put the meringues out in the woods for the wild things and had time to make some good cookies for the party. Here’s the kicker – on Monday, 48 hours later, I checked in the woods and the meringues were still there. ONE cookie had been moved and a bite taken and pieces then spit a few feet away! Not wood rats nor raccoons nor squirrels nor skunks nor opossums nor any other wild thing would touch them. Now THAT’s a bad cookie!

    Reply
  10. daphnem

    My favorite epic fail was my daughter-in-law’s chocolate pound cake that fell into 100s of pieces when she took it out of the pan. She brought the mess over to the party in a plastic bag and we ate it anyway. (All the oven’s fault!) We still talk about the “bag cake”. And then there’s the time I forgot to put eggs in the cake…..

    Reply
  11. Carol F.

    Even experienced bakers can be ambushed by ingredients. The photo of the sourdough starter reminded me of the time that I forgot to put mine in the fridge because I wasn’t going to use it right away. It overflowed the crock, crawled along the kitchen countertop and was preparing to escape out the back door when I finally thought to check up on it. It fought hard for its freedom but I managed to capture it and get it back into confinement. It got the last word: it never did cause anything to rise.

    Reply
  12. Kalisa

    Hooray, my picture made it! Poor baking bowl, you served me well… right up to the point where I melted you.

    Great pictures from everyone! The picture of the yeastless yeast bread is my favorite, and I like the person that turned their “wrecked” bundt cake into a trifle. It is nice to see that everyone makes mistakes and that a few blunders are no reason to give up! You just have to keep trying and do your best.

    Reply
  13. Marilyn

    Loved the angel food cake and the Boston cream pie! The last thing I’d think of doing would be taking a picture but I’m so glad all of you did.

    Reply
  14. TXEdie

    Wonderful pictures/comments. I laughed out loud and thoroughly enjoyed the line-up of baking disasters. Anyone who loves to cook/bake has experienced these results at one time or another. The fun part is remembering that the distasters were often very tasty!

    Reply
  15. Grandmarie

    I made Irish Barm Brach bread, baked in oven, following directions, but it came out black on top.
    Fortunately, cutting off the crust worked for us . It was delicious! Wish I had taken a photo.

    Reply
  16. Ruth

    Thanks so much to everyone for sharing! It felt good to laugh out loud. I’ve never thought to take a picture of a baking disaster. I plan to share this with my daughter.

    Reply
  17. Daniel

    I moved apartmetns during the middle of a craft show where I was baking Amish Friendship Breads. I had to move a large quantity of starter, and during the drive I had to stop fast, and the starter flew off the seat and slammed into the dashboard. Starter went everywhere over the dash and passenger seat. Very hard to get out, and the car had a yeasty smell forever!!! Wish I had a picture of it, I can laugh about it now.

    Reply
  18. Susan Bovee

    Years ago my favorite chocolate extravaganza was a Chocolate Intemperance cake which started with a package of brownies baked in a jelly roll pan, which was then cut to line a 2 quart mold. The filling was a chocolate mousse made with a pound of chocolate. Beautiful thing: chocolate cake surrounding a sinfully rich chocolate mousse. BUT one time I was making too many things at once, and used only half the chocolate required for the mousse. When I removed it from the fridge, carefully centered it, and flipped the plate over to decant the cake, it began to ooze off the plate. There I was, using both hands to hold the cake together while yelling at my darling husband to bring me the cut glass bowl. So there my lovely mess went. Plop. I then stabbed the cake with spoons, spatulas, etc. to break up the cake to make a sorta trifle. The chocolate & Tia Maria mixture that was supposed to glaze the beautiful molded creation was instead used to cover the broken mess. It still looked ugly, so I fanned sliced strawberries on top. As I walked to the party, I confessed my error to another woman I met on the walk to the front door. Later, several people came to privately tell me that the cake was delicious even though I’d “doubled the chocolate!” Lesson learned: my favorite chocolate extravaganza now is a simple, but still sinful, chocolate mousse cake using 3 ingredients: good chocolate melted with butter, and eggs simply broken up and stirred together. No overnight chilling to set. Just melt, stir, and bake in a Bain Marie. If baked too long it’s rather FUDGY; if baked perfectly it’s like truffles. There is no way to ruin this cake!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Oh Susan, it’s a disaster that I don’t have some of that cake right now! It sounds amazing! ~ MJ

    2. Susan Bovee

      MJ, my favorite chocolate extravaganza now is EASIEST, BEST CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE
      From Lauren Chattman’s INSTANT GRATIFICATION. I’ve made a few of her recipes, but this cake is the best, and easiest, truly. —Susan Bovee

  19. Royce

    These photos are awesome and for someone who can’t cook without a recipe, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one out there that makes goofs. I am astounded at people’s creativity to make a disaster turn into something amazing. I just sit and cry. Ha ha. Thank you one and all for sharing, even the pro’s. It makes my heart sing.

    Reply
  20. SouthernGirl53

    To soften butter, I like to put my sticks in the oven with just the light on. HOWEVER, unless you want to explain to the fire department how you forgot about them and turned the oven on to preheat at 400 degrees, don’t do this. I think I was more upset on losing 6 sticks of butter than all the black smoke in my kitchen! Note to self: check the oven before turning it on. Hard lesson learned!

    Reply
  21. donna

    Truly a rewarding read and so funny, I was laughing out loud. I think baking disasters are some of the most painful, all that work, preparing special pans, the cost of the ingredients, then failure. Epic failure. Comforting to know this sort of thing happens to so many bakers, I always assume it only happens to me. The angel cake and the beer bottle and the evil hello kitty cakes, so funny! but the raspberry merigue cookie posting is probably the best story.

    Reply
  22. Ann Valenti

    Thanks for the best laugh I’ve had in ages! Way too many of the ‘baking adventures’ have come out of my kitchen at one time or another……once upon a time, I was in a hurry to soften cream cheese for a cheesecake and thought putting it in the blender would solve the problem. It probably would have except for the fact I ended up and also ‘blended’ the rubber scraper right along with the cheese. Next step was to squish the cheese/scraper mixture through a seive to get most of the rubber pieces out of the mix and then proceed with the cake. Thankfully only a minimum of scraper remained to be fished out, but the rest of the cake was wonderful!

    Reply
  23. deb

    Evilness… many years ago hubby decided to do roast, baked potatoes, gravy, and he missed the big yellow box of CORNSTARCH staring him in face and took the container of powdered sugar to make his gravy. It just would NOT thicken after about a pound of sugar; he finally put the pot on the pad on the table anyway-not tasting it. Yep it got dolloped onto the mashed out spuds… We still joke about glazed potato-cakes over 30 years later….

    Do pancakes count? Very first time I tried to cook I made pancakes ad turned the electric burner on HIGH. My first pancake came out BLACK. Mom had come home and rescued me from that one. I STILL feel bad about that one over 40 years later. She got things sorted out and I got the rest of them to turn out better.

    I feel for the angel food cake. You just get out the sweetened condensed milk, whipped topping and make ‘angel lush’ and drizzle it with a little chocolate syrup. Yeah you MEANT it that way!

    (have I ever had to chisel off the oven, soak a pan for a week, scrub something off the ceiling, oh no, NOT me… hehehe)

    Reply
    1. Shelly

      Oh, heavens! Your comments about the angel food cake bring back memories of the first attempt my sister and I made at baking as kids: a boxed angel food cake mix made while mom was working an evening shift and dad was asleep on the couch. We burned it horribly, cut off the worst of it and whipped up a powdered sugar icing to cover the damage. It must have been sweet enough to make your teeth ache, but dad gamely ate a piece and told us it was delicious. We call it “Disaster Cake” to this day!

  24. Swathi

    I never ever got courage to post my baking blunder pictures. Always love these pictures even though it is sad to see baking adventure went in wrong direction. Great post as always looking forward to next year.

    Reply
  25. eileen

    Last Thanksgiving, I decided to make my pumpkin pie early in the morning, before putting the turkey in the oven. The pie was made, looked great and the filling was spiced to perfection. Poured the filling in the pie crust, put it on a baking tray, opened the preheated oven. At that precise moment, my back went out and the pie flipped and spilled out into the oven. Did not know whether to laugh or cry. Wasn’t easy to get the mess cleaned out of the oven in time to cook the turkey.

    Reply
  26. Marilyn

    Wanting to impress my future mother-in-law the first time I met her, I offered to make a blueberry pie for dinner (we were visiting her home). The pie was beautiful when I took it out of the oven–then proceeded to drop the whole thing onto her gold-carpeted kitchen floor! Still married after 46 years and many pies later.

    Reply
  27. Joyce

    My Mother-in-law made the best candy of anyone. Each Christmas she made and sold over 300 lbs. each year for her church. She made it one lb. at a time. My Father-in-law loved her caramels. making a special batch for him, one evening, she grabbed a cathartic, instead of vanilla. He ate most of the caramels, before anyone figured that one out.
    I’ve had my share but none as spectacular as that.

    Reply
  28. Paula Catherine

    This April 1 post is the absolute best thing I have read!!! The examples are so funny and remind me of my flops as well. I recently made the Irish soda bread muffins, a picture would do it justice, they came out beautiful, but when the directions indicate do not over mix, one must follow the directions. They could have been used as a weapon! I guess. I am an over mixer.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer

      Irish soda bread muffins turned out like dense weapons for me also. And some morning glory muffins I made a few weeks ago, a few hours later the sunflower seeds were dark bluish green. (Aluminum containing baking powder?) as well as being dense and heavy.

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Jennifer, if your quick breads are turning greenish, it may very well be that the acidic ingredients are reacting with the baking soda. It might be that the baking soda is not distributed quite well enough through out the batter. If you whisk the dry ingredients together a little longer, you should be able to better distribute the baking soda, and to avoid green muffins.~Jaydl@KAF

  29. Sally

    We’ve had more than one episode of the overflowing sourdough starter. My 21 yr. old son named it “Jeffrey” and said, “Jeffrey is taking over the world! AAAAARGH!” Love reading the other blunders – any of us who cook can sympathize and appreciate it!

    Reply
  30. mumpy

    the wrecked pirate cakes reminds me of a b’day cake my daughter made a few years back….it was amazing….even included details like a ‘plank’ to walk….the ‘plank’ was made of a sugar wafer type cookie….just in case you ever decide to use this type of cookie as a cake decoration, be advised that you want to be VERY careful where you place the birthday candles because those cookies really burn!…it was a nice day, we were outside, cake was on the picnic table, son-in-law is a quick thinker, no damage done, other than part of the cake…her boys still ask if their next birthday cake can be set on fire….thus far, she has refused.

    Reply
  31. breabella

    When I was around 14 and dinosaurs still roamed freely, I decided to make my beloved Daddy an apple pie…his favorite. Not wanting to be a slacker, I set out to make the whole thing from scratch…crust included.

    For reasons I have never understood, I chose to purchase dehydrated apples instead of using fresh apples. I’m still scratching my head about it as I type. But I brought them home, and spent an entire day working on my pie.

    However, I did not know, nor had anyone informed me, that dehydrated apples must be rehydrated.

    So I just threw them in.

    I was so proud of my pie. I could hardly wait for Daddy to get home from work.

    After dinner, I cut a large piece for Daddy. He chewed…

    and chewed…

    and chewed…

    and chewed…

    and then looked at me and said “Baby, this is the best rubber pie I’ve ever eaten.”

    Reply
    1. JulieG

      I just cannot escape the rubber pie. It reminds me of something left out of the recipe for baked beans I was proudly making at age 12: We were having a guest for dinner and I decided to make a Smorgasbord. My Scandinavian Cookbook had given me many weeks of Summer baking fun, but it was assuming foreknowledge of some things. Like “baked beans” needed a lid on the baking dish. Another contribution to the cooks arsnal of baked bullets.

      Another one of its flaws was the recipe for “Danish pastry”. It listed the amounts of butter, salt, yeast etc, but when it came to flour the amount was “flour enough to make a stiff dough”, At age 8 years it came out perfect. But by the time I was 12 years old my hands were so strong it would not rise. It was over a decade before I ever tried to make a yeast something again.

  32. Marte

    I found what looked like a good quick recipe for potato soup. It called for half a package of garlic mashed potato flakes. I opened the box of potato flakes and saw that there were two envelopes inside, so, half a package is one envelope, right?

    Potato flavored glue is edible, but about as appealing as eating any other kind of glue.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Like the time a customer had used a “package” of yeast in her bread…the 1 pound package we sell! ~ MJ

  33. genie

    So nice to know I am not the only one! For Thanksgiving last year I made malted milk chocolate cupcakes and spend way too much time icing them and very carefully decorating each of the 12 cupcakes differently. After dinner that night as I was cleaning up dinner dishes, loading the dishwasher, etc, I ran to the pantry for something, sawt he cupcakes in the carrier and decided I had to show them off to my husband. In my rush I tripped over the open dishwasher door, fell flat on my face and watched the cupcakes slide across the floor, hit the stove and come to a halt and smash up against the wall of the carrier. My husband came running in, and as I sat on the floor crying and laughing, I am sure he thought I had a stroke becuase I was incoherent!! Those poor demolished cupcakes tasted just fine all smooshed together :-)
    thanks to everyone for sharing, this made my day!!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      OH NO! I can see that happening all in slow motion. I’m glad you recovered with humor! ~ MJ

  34. Evelyn Panfili

    Laughed out loud through this April Fools email. Haven’t make every goof but can relate with memories of my own. Like the first loaf of bread from scratch that was hard as a rock and heavy as a bowling ball.

    Reply
  35. Bernice Reisinger

    Reading these posts and laughing out loud reminded me of something that happened to me many years ago.
    I was making a Darth Vader cake for my very young son. In the process, I had caught the wooden spoon in the moving beaters of my stand mixer which bent both beaters beyond use. Then, while trying to salvage the cake batter, I dropped the glass mixing bowl which, of course, broke into many pieces.
    I blamed it on Darth Vader and never tried that again. Obviously, The Force was not with me.

    Bernice Reisinger
    April 1, 2014

    Reply
  36. Susan

    I groaned when I saw the icing disaster with the heart-shaped cookies – brings back memories … I’ve done my share of disasters, but one Christmas, I was rushing around the kitchen with a freshly baked pan of cookies (perfectly baked and meant to be given away to friends), when I bumped the pan into the edge of the counter … and slow-motion music, please? … the parchment lining the pan slid off the pan and the cookies tumbled to the floor. My husband rushed into the kitchen to find a crying wife with pan, parchment, and cookies all on the floor!

    Reply
  37. Barbara

    I laughed and laughed. I’ve been there too but never quite like these. Never a disaster I couldn’t recover from! A tip – you can stir the baking powder in after you have put the cake in pans and in the oven, just take it out, stir the baking powder in and stick it back in the oven – then cross your fingers!

    Reply
  38. Lori

    This is my son’s favorite story to hear about my childhood….. when I was about 6 I asked my mom if I could bake a pie for dessert. Thinking I was too young to work from scratch but wanting me to be successful on my own, she bought pre-baked frozen pie shells and canned filling for me to use. I followed the directions and proudly brought my beautiful freshly baked pie to the table. No matter how hard I tried, I could not cut it! Turns out that I did not realize you had to remove the little heavy paper circle that separated the pie shells before adding the filling…..

    Reply
  39. Alison Steadman

    I have a recipe for an English Muffin Breakfast Bread that I make regularly. It calls for only flour, water, yeast, salt and sugar. Sometimes it rises well and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the loaves will sink a but after being in the oven. I was wondering about adding some vital wheat gluten or Sir Lancelot Flour to my recipe to give it a better rise. Does anyone have any thoughts on that? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, a flour with a higher protein will almost always help with the rise. I would try that first before using any other products. But, also be sure the dough is not too heavy or dense. A heavier dough will not rise as well as a dough that is soft and somewhat sticky. If it is collapsing in the oven, it sounds like a situation where the bread has over risen. Press the dough with your finger and if it bounces back slowly, it is ready to be baked. If it bounce back too quickly it needs more time! Elisabeth@KAF

  40. Shyla Middleton

    Years ago, on what would turn out to be the night my (now ex) husband proposed to me, I made peanut butter brownies, his favorites. I pulled them out of the oven to cool, they were perfect, looking a bit gooey from the peanut butter. He wanted to go out for a drive, so I left a dishtowel over the brownies to keep the cat out.
    When we returned, the dishtowel appeared to have fallen into the brownies. As it turned out, the pan was full of kitty footprints. I guess she liked the squish of warm peanut butter brownies between her feline toes. Didn’t end up having dessert that night.

    Reply
  41. Toni

    THANK YOU! I laughed so hard I was in tears. What a great April Fool’s Day gift. Seeing these help me to relax — I’m not the only one with baking blunders. Have a wonderful day!

    Reply
  42. slmckissick

    When I was first married, I decided to make my husband one of his most favorite pies: fresh strawberry pie. All went well until I was trying to thicken the glaze. I added the cornstarch, stirred, it bubbled up, but then went back to being runny. So I added more. More bubbling, but no thickened glaze. More cornstarch. More bubbles. Runny glaze. At some point my husband came in and I explained to him that the cornstarch was not working. He took one look at the yellow box I was using, and said, “You can add all the baking soda you want, but it will never thicken!” I read packages now, not just grab by color!

    Reply
  43. Leslie

    I should have read KC’s post first warning me not to read this at work. It was hard to keep the laughter in and maintain my decorum. All the stories are too funny! I’ve had many a moment looking at my husband while he scratches his head trying to figure out what I’m doing in the kitchen…

    Reply
  44. Valarie

    Spent most of my day off making a perfect ___ really perfect ___ lemon meringue pie. Hand squeezed lemon juice, perfectly browned meringue tips and everything. Went to put it in the frig. hit the edge of the pie plate on the door. It slide down each and every shelf ending up side down on the grill at the bottom. Nothing left but 40 minutes of scrapping lemon filling out of all the decorative trim on the front of each shelf of the old refrigerator, and all the little squares of the grill. Still haven’t made another lemon meringue in 30 years.

    Reply
  45. Aimee

    I look forward to this post all year! Thanks for yet another fun dose of “Gee, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one!” Love you guys at KAF!

    Reply
  46. Jan Z.

    It was late at night (10:00 pm) and I was making a carrot cake to enter in our state fair. I had pulled all the available carrots from the garden and used what I had in the fridge and grated them all up and put them in a big bowl. As I reached into the cupboard for some other ingredients, I inadvertently knocked the bowl unto the floor. My yowl could be heard in the neighboring county. My husband came running in to see if I had injured myself and then looked at the mess on the floor. “What am I going to do? I don’t have anymore carrots” I wailed. He looked at me and said just scrape the top layer that’s not on the floor and continue on. After a few seconds thought, that’s exactly what I did. And guess what? It took first prize at the fair! (And as far as I know, no one got sick tasting it.)

    Reply
    1. T.K. Whalen

      You could have just picked them up, rinse them off, drain them and dry them too but the 10 second rule works here! lol

  47. Doreen

    I am glad to see I’m not alone in the baking mishaps department. I have a tendancy to believe that when I bake something it’s supposed to come out perfect – like a bakery. When something doesn’t come out right, I will throw it away and start over. I am a pretty good baker or at least I think so – I just have certain things I’m comfortable with. I still can’t make a pie crust after 30 years of trying – thank goodness for Pillsbury premade pie crusts. The first time I ever tried to make one – many years ago, my 2 cats were running for cover as I was threw the dough around the kitchen – that’s how frustrated I got. Every so often I will try to make a pie crust from scratch and give up.

    Reply
  48. Melba

    Something homemade really does make it all better. Thanks for the laughs today. I just got the news that my friend has cancer. Cherish the joyful!

    Reply
  49. Monique Terrio

    Loved the stories, they brought back memories over the years from my own disasters. I managed to actually burn soup. A nice big pot of vegetable soup, simmered for hours and eventually forgotten while I was writing a paper for college…..until I found it totally dried/burnt on the bottom of one of my Calphalon pots—soaked it for days and the residue would not come off, called the Calphalon hot line asking for advice (they actually sort-of didn’t quite say that it may be a total loss) but I wasn’t giving up. Happily, after 32 days of soaking and scrubbing, I got it perfectly clean again. I set timers now.

    Reply
  50. Gayle Staton

    Thank you so much for lightening my day! I appreciate all of the stories and photos, even though they remind me of some of my baking disasters. Always so funny after the fact!

    Reply
  51. Erin R.

    Oh, how I love the April 1 post! I just want to saw the nose off that sourdough loaf and eat it anyway.

    I recently made cajeta for the first time and had such glorious success that I decided, just out of curiosity, to try it again the following weekend using some leftover skim milk. Um, don’t do that. Not only was it the expected curdled mess, but this weird, tough skin kept forming on the surface. Then it would turn into leathery strings each time I stirred. Seriously, I should have saved those strings to secure our baby trees to stakes or to use as tow straps for the truck. Also, the whole thing was a ghastly dust color, like it came out of a vacuum bag. I went into it knowing it would end badly, but I just didn’t predict how MANY horridly unnerving things were going to happen.

    Reply
  52. Chloe

    One semester when I was a graduate student I taught a recitation section Fridays at 9AM. To entice my students to show up on time (or at all) I would bake a sweet treat the night before. One night I didn’t get started until very late, so it was 2 or 3 AM by the time my cinnamon rolls were ready to be baked. At that point, I was so tired I forgot to remove the plastic wrap I was using as a proof cover. The smell of the burning plastic was truly unforgettable as was the effort it took to scrape the little (& not so little) plastic droplets from the oven floors & racks.

    Reply
  53. T.K. Whalen

    Not sure if this qualifies – but I made a batch of baby cakes (little frosted squares) they were perfect – I put them in the fridge to set and when I pulled them out (to serve to our dinner guests), the dish slipped out of my hand and there were the baby cakes and the shattered glass plate all over the floor – BOOOO! Good thing there were too many to put on one plate and so I still had some to serve – NEVER put all your eggs in one basket – never put all your baby cakes on one plate! btw – From then on I put them in a plastic cupcake keeper with a snap lock top –

    Reply
  54. Joanne Garzia

    For those of you who are using Pam,, I’ve had my share of problems with that too, I use Bakers Joy. I haven’t greased & floured a pan of any kind in years, Bakers Joy is almost perfect. I use it for any kind of cake ,cupcake, muffins etc.. I hold my pans over the sink, and just spray evenly over the pan, Done. Works Great!!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Thanks Joanne, what a helpful hint. I’ve seen Bakers Joy in only a few stores here, but now I know it’s worth the hunt. ~ MJ

  55. Karen Howell

    There is one hard-and-fast rule for bundt cakes:
    If you are making it for home it will come out perfectly
    If you are making it to take to a potluck half will stick in the pan
    Pretending you are making it for home WILL NOT fool the pan.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Good thing I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read this Karen, I would have spilled it! The pan knows all, sees all! ~ MJ

  56. Charleen Wright

    Thank you so much for the laughs and tears of joy.

    My mother was not the greatest cook in the world. She got us all fed without any of us ending up in the hospital but none of her meals were anything to write home about. Not being a kitchen enthusiast, she never taught us how to cook so I entered adulthood having to call someone for the recipe for ice cubes. She did, however, host Christmas dinner every year. One year she tasked me with making the cole slaw. Since I could burn rice krispies she figured the cole slaw would be safe in my hands. Ha! This was pre-food processor days so grating 2 heads of cabbage and several carrots on a box grater was quite a chore. Into my huge tupperware bowl everything went. I grabbed my giant metal spoon and mixed…..and mixed…..and mixed some more. Finally it was done and in a pretty bowl. Off to my parents house I went with my cole slaw. At dinner that night my sister was sitting across from me when, after a forkful of cole slaw she pursed her lips, crossed her eyes, put her thumb and forefinger to her lips and pulled out a string of…..TUPPERWARE! Never, ever stir anything in a plastic bowl with a metal implement! I still have that bowl but now I stir with my impeccably clean hands.

    Next time I’ll tell you about my green spaghetti sauce.

    Reply
  57. karenbrat1

    What is it about homemade angel food cake that causes it to fall out of the pan as soon as you invert it over a bottle? I’ve had that happen several times!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Karen, you’re not greasing the pan, are you? Or using a non-stick pan? Both of those might encourage the cake to fall out. Also, are you inverting it immediately? Might be that if you wait a bit before inverting, the cake cools/shrinks and is more likely to fall out. Readers, any other thoughts on this? PJH

  58. RLMJ

    Oh, the epic failures I, or my family, have had. Many years ago, my mom tried to make my dad’s favorite cake – yellow with coconut whipped cream frosting, for his birthday. Everything looked great, neighbors were invited, and he was led into the kitchen for the surprise, and then we saw the cake. In the short time it took to bring everyone in, the crust on one side had separated from the cake and was sagging out from the middle, causing a gash in the frosting that looked like a mouth. Mom saved it, with 2 marshmallows she made into “eyes” for the top, transforming it into a “scrubbing bubble”. Another disaster was my high school sister’s attempt at a chemistry class “experiment” for homework on crystalline structures. She tried making rock candy (adding blue food coloring), and set the open container on top of our fridge for a few days to harden. One of us kids slammed the door shut in a hurry one day, causing the container to fall over. Sticky stuff went everywhere – the popcorn ceiling had to be repainted, the wall paper had blue spots, the fridge & stove had to be pulled out, taken apart & cleaned by a repairman. 40 years later, we still laugh about it. Then there was the pumpkin pie – my first – made a few days early in our tiny galley kitchen to bring to a family Thanksgiving. I was very pregnant & due any minute, and the kitchen was so narrow that I had to stand to the side to open the oven door. I opened the door to take out the most perfect pie, so proud of it, and just as I slid out the tray, realized the door wasn’t quite down all the way. I tried to move out of the way as the door began to spring up on it’s own, but was too big & awkward, and the door caught the edge of the tray. It seemed like slow motion, but the pie flipped up in the air, spun over, spilling it’s contents down the inside of the oven, and into the vents at the top of the door. I spent the next several hours trying to clean as much as I could, totally unable to reach most of the oven interior, and taking apart the door so my husband could clean the inside when he came home from work. I felt terrible, pumpkin pie was traditional for dinner, and everyone would be disappointed if I didn’t bring it. As it turned out, they never even noticed, because I went into labor the next day, and brought home our baby girl on Thanksgiving.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      What a nice ending to your story! And I can totally see that slooow motion oven door closing on your pie. You tell a great tale here – thanks so much for sharing. PJH

  59. Monica

    Oh, how I love to read these hilarious stories. They remind me that I am not alone! Had two episodes of my own this past holiday season. After religiously reading EVERY SINGLE BLOG about pie crust on this website, I finally decided to go for it. Carefully followed all the tips and was rewarded with a lovely rolled out dough which I carefully nestled into the pie pan. Then, following another tip from one of the apple pie blogs, I put a thin layer of panko bread crumbs in the bottom to absorb some of the juice. As I turned around to get my all ready to go filling, I got a distinct whiff of garlic. Hmmmm – where did that come from?? Why, from the Italian flavored panko crumbs that I had so carefully thrown in, of course! Luckily, I managed to brush out most, but not all of the offending crumbs, and worried all through Thanksgiving dinner about my Italian seasoned apple pie. By some miracle, there was no flavor of garlic or oregano, and best of all, the pie crust was absolutely perfect, shattering into lovely little crispy shards when I cut into it. Everyone said it was the best apple pie ever! Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the kitchen, disaster struck again. While making my annual batch of tri-colored cookies, (those red, white and green layers sandwiched with raspberry jam and topped with chocolate), the green layer slipped out of my hand while I was rotating the three different colors from top to bottom in the oven. The whole layer slid to one side. I did what I could to salvage it, madly smooshing it to fit the entire pan again, but sadly that green layer had some really crunchy sections. I ended up making another batch. Moral of that story – get a pair of oven gloves that fit, instead of big, clunky mitts!

    Reply
  60. citlalnahuac

    It’s not a baking story, per se, but I thought you might like to hear about:

    How My Father Painted The Kitchen With Booze

    Dad worked in the motion picture industry (just The Industry, we say in So Cal), for 20th Century Fox most of his career. One of the features he worked on was Carrousel, the movie of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical. And one of the big numbers in that is ‘This Was A Real Nice Clambake’, which they shot over several days for different camera angles, dance sequences, fixing muffed lines, etc.

    This was A Major Motion Picture, and they Spared No Expense. Each day of shooting the clambake scenes, a driver went down to the LA airport and brought back several live Maine lobsters. A few were cooked right then, and so became part of movie history as ‘set dressing’, but the rest went home, still living, with various members of the crew. Dad got two one evening, along with a couple of big, decorative loaves of really good bread, also purchased as set dressing.

    Now, my Mom and grandmother (who lived with us at the time) were both from land-locked, rural southwest Missouri, and neither had the foggiest idea of How To Cook A Lobster. So they consulted what we refer to as Old Reliable, a 1956 Betty Crocker cookbook, plopped a big pot of salted water on the stove, got it boiling, and cautiously dropped in the lobsters.

    Well, yes, boiling water will kill lobsters, but they took time to die, and flopped around violently while they were doing it. The cookbook hadn’t said anything about covering the pot (or killing the lobster with a knife just before cooking, which I understand is the less-inhumane modern practice).

    Those lobsters threw boiling seafood-scented water ALL over the kitchen, floor to ceiling, side to side, front to back. (It wasn’t a small kitchen, either.) Everyone fled the cloud of steam and spray, and then cautiously returned to mop up as much as possible and finish cooking the lobsters.

    Dad and my brother enjoyed them – the rest of us didn’t (and still don’t) eat seafood – but as a few days wore on, the smell simply became ever stronger and even more awful. Dad hired a co-worker to help him scrub down the higher walls and ceiling over the weekend, but the smell, although lessened, persisted. I was too young to really notice, but I imagine my parents had some difficult moments around then.

    They finally decided the only solution was to repaint the kitchen and ‘seal it in’. Fortunately, many stars pass out bottles of really good booze as Christmas and ‘wrap party’ presents to the crew, and Dad’s stash was enormous. He traded liquor for paint with a guy who supplied the studio with paint-for-sets, and hired the same co-worker to help again. It worked; once the paint smell dissipated the kitchen was just a kitchen again.

    Seafood, however, was never again cooked in our house. If Dad and my brother wanted seafood, we ate out. It did provide a useful, male-bonding thing for them later on; in the latter part of Dad’s life they had a standing lunch date for seafood, which was, of course, actually more about father-son communication than the food.

    And at least we got a good story out of it.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      A good story, indeed! And thanks for sharing it here – and for starting my day with a big smile. :) PJH

  61. nancy

    I Loved all the stories and laughed until I had to change my underwear. M y husband asked if there was anything he could do help. I could not communicate. My first cooking disaster was the first time I made turkey soup after thanksgiving. I wanted to make sure I did not get any bones in the soup. I put the collendar in the sink, caught the bones then realized that the soup was now down the sink. I only did that once. My husband wanted to make my something special for Valentine’s day. He made bread during the day and when I came home it was still sitting there as a blob on the counter. I asked him what he did and he went thought all the different ingredients. I asked him how hot the water was that he mixed with the yeast and he said, “It was as hot as I could get it.” I loved him for the attempt. Embarasing stories make for great fun. Thank you for all the laughs.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Eu não tenho certeza se entendi sua omment – você poderia explicar melhor? Graças – PJH

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