April fools in the kitchen: our 10th annual salute to test kitchen blunders, bloopers and disasters

Baking mistakes: we all make them. Even the (well)-seasoned bakers in the King Arthur Flour test kitchen endure their share of mishaps, from burned cookies to collapsed cakes to “soup” pies (you’ve made one of those, right?).

The thing is, when you make a mistake at home, it ranges anywhere from mildly irritating to disastrous. But when we make them here at King Arthur, it can be cause for celebration. Because failure means we’ve learned what NOT to do with any particular recipe — and we can pass that knowledge along to you.

It all simmers down to this: We make every baking mistake possible, so you don’t have to.

#AprilFools! King Arthur Flour reveals their test kitchen baking fails and fiascos. Click To Tweet

Join us now as we share some of our favorite “Uh-oh” moments from the past year.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Yeast dough no-no’s

Yeast dough often has a mind of its own, doesn’t it? In this case, we were testing a baking pan using a recipe for very wet dough that we suspected would exceed the pan’s capacity.

Spectacular success! We proved it: that particular recipe won’t fit in this particular pan.

Speaking of robust growth —

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

This is your dough. This is your dough during bulk fermentation. Grow, dough, grow!

Luckily, it was in a very very very large plastic tub.April Fools via @kingarthurflour

We often label our experiments using a felt pen on parchment. A “permanent” marker. Turns out that yeast dough, when it rises and spreads onto its ink label, will in fact pick up the ink and imprint itself.

Cool! There’s no mistaking that this loaf had “0 rise.”April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Now, here’s a REAL disaster. Bad words were said, I admit. After spending five days growing a new sourdough starter from scratch, I was giving it one last feed/rise inside my turned-off oven, where the starter can stay relatively warm, free from drafts, and protected.

Protected from everything but my forgetfulness. I was baking cookies, and turned the oven to 350°F to preheat, forgetting about my 5-day-old starter.

The result? Well, as you can see, it wasn’t a happy, bubbly sourdough starter! Think wad of crusty, baked-on sludge.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Collateral damage: I had a Thermapen digital thermometer in the oven as well, monitoring ambient temperature as the starter grew.

Thermapen + 350°F = thermal death knell.

While a 350°F oven can kill a thermometer, it takes a lot more heat to wreck a pizza.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Like the 1200°F temperature in our Baking School’s brick oven. We managed to burn pizza — easily, thoroughly, and almost irreparably — by sticking it into the oven and forgetting about it for a few minutes.

Hey, we did manage to salvage the middle.   April Fools via @kingarthurflour

But the crust? Well, if “charcoal” speaks to you, you’d have loved this onion and olive pie.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Year of the Bundt boo-boos

2017 is our Year of the Bundt, and a lot moving and shaking on the cake-baking front took place in our test kitchens over the past nine months. One of our main issues — just as it is with you, from all reports — is Bundt cake sticking in the pan.

Some cakes stuck just a little — oh, so close to a perfect Bundt!

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Some cakes stuck a lot.April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Some cakes came out great — if you don’t care about any crust. So creamy! So tender!

So… naked.April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Some cakes not only stuck, but crumbled.April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Some didn’t stick — hallelujah — but broke.

Ah, success was just one fault line away for this Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake!April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Finally, some cakes failed on multiple levels. This experiment added chocolate chips to an early version of our Classic Vanilla Bundt Cake, in order to make chocolate chip Bundt cake.

Physics fact: gravity has its way with chocolate chips in cake batter, just as it does with Newton’s apple.

Baking fact: Adding chocolate chips to thin cake batter will yield the Bundt cake equivalent of a bad hair day: bedraggled on top.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Cake catastrophes

Our focus wasn’t 100% on Bundt cakes this year, though. We managed to mess up all manner of other cakes as well.

Like this Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting. First try at making it gluten-free? Delicious! And super crumbly!

So long as you don’t mind serving it with an ice cream scoop (and you didn’t have an Instagram post in mind), this cake is a hit.April Fools via @kingarthurflour

And then there was that fleeting symbiotic relationship between chocolate cake and marshmallow frosting.

You know, you can’t just leave these cakes alone by themselves. One minute they’re fine, the next they’re self-destructing.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

And it’s Chef Susan for the save! Kind of.April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Nothing could save this Chocolate Lava Cake but a spatula, which we used to scrape up the leaking lava and re-apply it to the crumbled cake.

It wasn’t a pretty picture; Martha Stewart would have been aghast. But hey, beauty is only crust-deep; chocolate is chocolate whatever it looks like, and these cakes are GOOD.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Dessert disasters

The thing about desserts is, they almost all include sugar. And no matter what shape it takes, sugar is simply addictive; even major malfeasance in the dessert department yields something edible.

If not neat. Or pretty. The fragile crust encasing the berry pie above didn’t survive having even one slice removed. So we dumped the pie onto a baking sheet, arrayed a bunch of spoons next to it, and left it with a sign: “Dig in.”

Everybody did.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Um, peace sign gone awry? This started out as Butter-Pecan Kringle. But oh, my! Didn’t I leave 4 eggs out of the second layer of pastry. “Well, maybe I can scrape it off, add the eggs, and smooth it back on…”

Uh, no.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

There’s a reason you pay strict attention while making pastry cream, as I was doing for this Berry Blitz Torte. Combining egg yolks with simmering cream is a two-step process. Now, if you skip the first step and dash right to the second, you can easily produce the result above: scrambled-egg pastry cream, instead of the ultra-smooth, thick cream you get by FOLLOWING THE DIRECTIONS.

I spooned the “cream” onto the bottom cake layer anyway. “Maybe no one will notice.” Right.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Speaking of skipping steps… Yeah, yeah, the Dark Chocolate Eclairs recipe says to let the filling and glaze cool and thicken before using — otherwise they’ll be too thin. Whatever.

As you can see, “whatever” turned out to be one heck of a sticky chocolate mess.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

That’s the way the cookie crumbles

Or spreads, in the case of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe when I inadvertently add an extra 1/2 cup sugar. (Another reason cookies spread? See this quick tip.)

Been there, done that, right? Cookie puddles are something most of us have experienced.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Sometimes our baking tests focus on tools, rather than recipes. This was a patterned rolling pin test.

Aw, cute! Too bad we couldn’t A) separate the super-soft cookie dough into individual cookies before baking; or B), break the cookies apart into individual bunnies and birds afterwards.

Again, great flavor, but the presentation is… um, lacking.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Breakfast baking busts

Muffins, quick breads, coffeecake — we love our sweet treats at breakfast, don’t we? And we test kitchen bakers test a full breakfast buffet of recipes each year.

One thing you always want to nail with any recipe is how long to bake. For quick breads and muffins, sticking a toothpick into the center is a pretty good way to test doneness.

But with our Famous Department Store Blueberry Muffins, which are absolutely loaded with berries, it’s typical to repeatedly stick your toothpick into a berry — which tells you absolutely nothing about whether or not the muffin surrounding it is fully baked.

Poke, poke, poke, dig, dig… OK, I give up, gimme a spoon; I’m going to get to the bottom of this muffin.

Which I did. Verdict? Not done. Also no longer presentable.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Now, I know I was testing streusel vs. no streusel on this coffeecake. But why I felt obliged to dig three separate “test pits” in the cake, I have no clue.

No worries; though I did compromise the cake’s fresh-baked appearance somewhat, this didn’t prevent our ever-eager taste-testers from making quick work of it once it made it to the “bite and write” counter.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

So, I decided to create a recipe for double-layer filled scones, and I needed to test various fillings, and most of them worked out just fine but my first attempt at cinnamon filling included maybe just a bit too much butter.

Ya think?!

As a matter of fact, I never did quite nail from-scratch cinnamon filling for my Double Decker Filled Scones. Instead, when I want a cinnamon version, I rely on our Baker’s Cinnamon Filling — the guaranteed path to leak-free scones, or cinnamon buns, or cinnamon swirl bread.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Oh… my… goodness! WHAT is up with these banana mini muffins? I still haven’t figured out what caused the cinnamon chips I added to turn into little individual lava-spewing volcanoes.

And there’s nothing I love more than laboriously cleaning baked-on sugar off a mini muffin pan (she says, dripping sarcasm).

But cleanup is part of every baker’s life.

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Whether it’s wiping chocolate off your hands …April Fools via @kingarthurflour

… or deciding the best approach to 5 pounds of white whole wheat flour on the rug.

Note to self: Do NOT carry your flour canister by its snap-on lid unless said lid is indeed fully snapped on!

So, what have we learned this year in the King Arthur Flour test kitchen, after all of our crumbled, collapsed, misshapen, burned, exploded, and otherwise compromised baked goods?

April Fools via @kingarthurflour

Chocolate chip cookies rule! Even when you mess them up.

(What, you were expecting something profound?)

OK, you saw all of our baking snafus — how about sharing some of your own? Reveal your “April fools moments” in comments, below. I’ll never forget the reader who told us about the time she was tossing pizza dough in the air and forgot her overhead fan was on…

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Laurie

    PJ, thanks for this annual post! This year, I bought shiny new cake pans which were surprisingly slippery. As I was flipping a still-hot pan onto a cooling rack, it slid off, and the cake layer landed a foot away broken beyond repair. I also made a mistake when making hamantaschen cookies, causing the filling to spill out and over the sides. Breached hamantaschen are U-G-L-Y.

    Reply
  2. Susan

    My mishaps from last year include mini pie crusts that drooped over the edges of the pie tins and muffins that decided they wanted to stay put in the muffin tin. Did I mention that the mini pies were to be given to someone? About the charcoal pizza – my dear husband seems to have a mental block when either he wants to cook pizza or warm some slices up. One time he left some slices in there a little bit too long … on the top rack and under the broiler! D’oh!

    Reply
  3. Ann

    My famous biscuits were on the menu when our son invited a friend for lunch. But in my hurry I forgot the baking powder! That was a disappointment!

    Reply
  4. Denise

    I was making praline biscotti. The recipe called for one half cup of butter. I used one half pound. I ended up with a flat mess once baking commenced. It looked like one big sugar cookie.

    Reply
  5. Tonia

    Oh, man! I think the worse(?!) was when I had my bakery and I took out a full sheet pan of cinnamon rolls out of the oven and, I still don’t know exactly what happened, but they ended up on the floor! ARRRGGHH!!!! I just sat down and cried for a couple of minutes! Then had to get up and get dough started right away so there would be cinnamon rolls for the day — however not at opening time (7am) more like mid-morning. *sigh* Or the peanut butter cookies that got put in at the end of my baking day that I forgot to set a timer for and turned off the oven and left for the day. Mom was sweeping up and kept smelling something “burnt” when she’d get close to the oven. Finally opens the oven. . .aaaannndd. . .sure enough! There are those pb cookies completely blackened cinders! I came in the next morning and there’s this black thing in the middle of my work bench with and “Ode to a Peanut Butter Cookie” written by my mom. We laughed about that for days!

    Reply
    1. Andrea

      I feel your PB cookie pain. Several years ago, my husband was out of town. So, bored little me decided to bake a Pineapple Upside Down Cake at night, from insomnia. I put the cake in the oven, continued to watch TV; I blinked, smelled something burnt and thought… my goodness it’s only been about 45 minutes. I ran to the oven and pulled out a black disc! I went to turn off the oven and looked at the clock… it was 2hrs. later! I had dozed off and didn’t even know it. I should have known better than to attempt baking past my bedtime.

    2. RonM

      Many years ago I worked in a supermarket bakery where we made almost everything from scratch. I was the first guy in in the morning (4 am), fired up the 20-pan rotator oven, and mixed up the doughs and batters for the day. Other staff would filter in at certain times to make up the products. Monday was the main day for mixing cake batter, baking layers and freezing them to be used as needed. I mixed the batter and the bakery mgr would bake the layers. One Tuesday morning I did my usual routine of firing up the oven (without looking in), and two hours later when I opened the oven door to start my first baking run, the oven was full of 8 inch chocolate cakes that were as dry as cardboard! I loaded the 20 pans on a rack and pushed then into a corner near an exhaust fan. When the bakery mgr came in, I quietly told him I found an oven full of burnt chocolate cakes. He looked at me quizzically, and went over to look at them. He came back with a smirk on his face and said they were vanilla cakes! He loaded them in the oven the previous day and forgot them. 120 eight inch cinders went into the dumpster.

  6. Monica

    I first learned about the power of too much sugar as a teen, trying to make shortcake. It overflowed like lava. But just yesterday (many decades past my teen years) I had a butter disaster in the microwave. I’m sure smart bakers use the stove. I had melted the butter for a recipe the day before in a mug with sloping sides, then got called away. Next day, ready to make my pumpkin bread, I got the mug out of the fridge and nuked it for 30 seconds. Not enough. 30 more seconds… But within 10 seconds there was a boom as the middle overheated, exploded all over the microwave, and knocked the mug over, spilling butter everywhere. Amazingly, there was still a ring of unmelted butter inside the mug.

    Reply
    1. Georgia

      Haha, yes! been there, done that, MORE than once. And it is always entertaining when there’s still unmelted [whatever] surrounding the volcanic eruption.

  7. Melodie Moshure

    I grew up watching southern cooks making buttermilk buisquits.
    So… no problem I should be able to make them too, right?
    My first time loose in the kitchen I acted out the procedure perfectly…
    Did I say none of these cooks needed to actually measure anything?… at least, so I noticed?
    I plopped in what I thought would be enough lard…milk . ummmmm
    I can’t go on… it was humiliating…
    My first biscuits actually boiled.

    Reply
  8. Tracey Gehring

    Oh my goodness, I just love these April 1st articles! And oh so relevant as just a couple weeks ago I put my own starter in the oven after feeding it… and then turned it on to preheat, forgetting about said starter that was already in the oven. Luckily, I was able to rescue it – the edges were cooked to the bowl, but the middle was still goopy and not too warm. I crossed my fingers, hoped for the best and scooped out the goopy middle and babied it for a few days. It worked! It lives! And just to be on the safe side, instead of discarding when I fed it last, I kept the discard and fed that, so I have 2 containers now, you know, a container of “backup starter” just in case I feel the need to bake my starter again! Ah good times, I can laugh about it now….

    Reply
  9. retha

    I see these posts as great examples illustrating the concepts of:
    – Growth Mindset (Carol Dweck) the belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, brains and talent are just the beginning. A Growth Mindset views these results as signs of growth and bake again. On the other hand, a Fixed Mindset views these results as proof that one doesn’t have the baking talent, will never be able to bake and doesn’t try again.
    – Grit (Angela Duckworth) is passion and perseverance for a long term goal, in these examples baking.
    Consider incorporating these examples into presentations for schools and other groups.

    Reply
  10. Gretchen

    Probably the one I will always remember is sliding a pan of brownies into the oven, looking over to the side, and seeing the 3 eggs, quietly waiting to go IN the recipe.This time, they went on top of the brownie batter, and nobody ever knew…(well, until now.)

    My wife’s favorite kitchen disaster was when she first made me a Hershey’s chocolate cake for my birthday. She can’t figure out WHY the batter is so soupy…She’d mixed the CAKE and FROSTING recipe together. Boy, was THAT cake rich!

    Reply
  11. Maxine

    I loved reading all of these Oops-es!
    I was making my mom’s traditional Kulich for Christmas gifts for my neighbors. It was going to be a beautiful batch of 3 loaves. They rose beautifully in my new oven that “proofed” bread. Then, I put them in to bake but I started smelling burned bread 10 minutes into the baking cycle. This is what happens when the top element does not turn off but instead, “broils” for the entire cycle! Result was a new oven.
    /Users/maxineennis/Desktop/Nailed It.jpg

    Reply
  12. Susan

    Mine was just yesterday. I was checking a cake my mother made; it was still half liquid (obviously not a KA recipe because it had cooked the full time listed). In putting it back in, I hit the edge of the rack and flipped the cake onto the element, door, oven floor and even into the lower oven. I think the pieces will be fine with ice cream but I had to make her another cake.

    Reply
  13. Kayla Siford

    For my (now husband, then boyfriend)’s birthday I had made a lemon chiffon cake with a whipped cream frosting. I had decked the two layers in delcious, light whippped cream and set it on a pretty cake stand then planned to take it to the fridge in our garage so it wouldn’t get ruined by the Florida heat while we all ate dinner. I moved to open the door, cake stand in one hand, when the top layer of the cake had a different idea and moved in the opposite direction and PLOPPED onto the floor. My mother quickly came over and scooped it up (her floors are literally clean enough to eat off of), scraped the whipped cream off and then refrosted it. At this point I am laughing too hard and am no help. She fixes the cake while my sister cleans the whipped cream off the floor and closes the door. My mother then goes to put the cake in the fidge, opens the door, and loses the top layer again. Thankfully we still had whipped cream and a better idea on how to transport it. It was still delicious and he was none the wiser until much later.

    Reply
  14. JenK

    When I was an elementary schooler my brother’s Sunday school lesson had a recipe for “Bible bread”–a yeast free flatbread. My mom decided to let us try baking for the first time, with little instruction as I remember. When they were finished we eagerly bit in only to discover they were disappointingly inedible and salty. That was when we learned about baking soda…and that baking powder cannot be used in place of it. Another time we attempted to make chocolate éclairs…they came out as brown flatbreads…at least they looked chocolaty (due to being burnt)…again inedible. Now my brother and I (in our 40s) know our way around the kitchen 😀

    Reply
  15. Lindsey

    Still unclear how I managed to tip over my mixer (right out of the bowl) while it was still whipping chocolate batter. And it kept whipping even on its side, so the perimeter of my small kitchen had a line of chocolate all over the walls and ceiling.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Oh, Lindsey, this is just painful… One instance where you want your mixer to “fail” for sure! PJH

  16. Laurie

    I baked a cheesecake in a prepared crust and forgot to cook it on a cookie sheet. When the cheesecake came out of the oven, the pan folded in the middle and I ended up with “Oven Door Cheesecake!” it was quite a mess!

    Reply
  17. Amy Stahl

    My best (worst?) was Lydia Bastiach’s Ricotta Pie. It was a sweet, burning volcano in my oven just before a party at my house.

    Reply
  18. Millie Johnson

    These blunders and pictures make me feel so much better. Everyone always says I make the best pie crust & pies ever. BUT, in my haste to bake a yummy apple pie for company, I forgot to add the cinnamon-sugar mixture to the apple filling & forgot to brush the top crust with milk & sugar. TERRIBLE pie. I didn’t realize until the next day why NO ONE ate that pie. LOL

    Reply
  19. Laura

    I was making a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust for Thanksgiving. It looked perfect as I went to take it out of the oven and…the bottom of the springform pan came out!!! The cheesecake dropped into the oven and splattered everywhere, including up inside of the oven door (still not sure how that happened). I was not happy – and my father-in-law commented that it sounded like Gordon Ramsey was in the kitchen, which I’m pretty sure was not a compliment.

    Reply
  20. tkg

    My attempt at the KAF Lemon Bliss Cake resulted in 5 cake “pieces”. It took a lot to convince me not to throw it and my bundt pan away, but some fresh sweetened whipped cream, strawberries and limoncello helped turn it into Eton Mess. Thankfully I “made” it the night before my luncheon and was able to purchase a nice fruit tart for dessert.

    Reply
  21. Nancy

    Thankfully not too many this year. And that’s a good thing as guests at my Maine B&B expect their first course of baked goods. I did learn that I really shouldn’t talk to guests while making breakfast. One morning I started a scone recipe and while distracted went over to the next page and continued on with a muffin recipe. Scuffins! They weren’t bad actually.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      That would work — love the name, too! Better than “mones,” right? 🙂 PJH

  22. Janet B

    I used baking soda instead of baking powder in some triple berry muffins. They looked a little browner than usual. But the taste was just weird.

    Reply
  23. Lee

    I was baking a 3 layer chocolate cake. Didn’t have enough room in the kitchen to cool them so I put one of the layers on the back porch. The porch window was open but the screen was in place. I went back out to get it just in time to see a squirrel running back thru the hole it chewed in the screen. It had helped itself to chocolate cake. I’m just glad I didn’t put all 3 layers out there.

    Reply
  24. Carolyn

    I don’t have photos of my failures. They are quickly sent out the kitchen door for the squirrels to take care of, but even the squirrels wouldn’t touch my panettone failure.

    Reply
  25. Barbara

    I have left ingredients out of a recipe more than once so now print your recipes in extra large fonts. It’s those pesky details like using the right size pan or oven temp!

    Reply
  26. Christopher Smith

    I am 0-2 on apple pies this year. Just can’t get the filling to come together. I do feel better knowing that even the pro’s have a bad day.

    Reply
  27. Lynne

    This post brings me joy. I feel better about all my boo-boos. I just purchased a mini Zo from KAF and am still trying to work out the right amount of saf gold yeast for the Portuguese Sweet Bread. On third loaf TODAY!

    Reply
    1. Janine

      Lynne – I LOVE my mini-Zo! I’ve had fantastic luck with the 1# recipes in Linda Rehberg’s Bread Machine Magic and More Bread Machine Magic books (all recipes were tested and have instructions for 1#, 1+1/2# and 2# loaves.) Both books have versions of Portuguese Sweet Bread — one that bakes in the machine (in the “More…” book), one more elaborate and closer to KAF’s recipe that you do on the dough cycle, shape and bake in an oven (in the other book.) Definitely worth getting both books; your mini-Zo will be in constant use!

      Back to the PortSweet – both recipes call for: 1/3-1/2c water (use the lessor amount and check 5mins into kneading and add water if needed), 1 egg, 3T butter, 1/4c sugar, 2c Bread flour.
      Then: for bake in machine version- 3/4t salt, 1+1/2T dry milk powder, 2t active dry yeast.
      For the bake in oven version – 3T sweetened condensed milk, 1/2t salt, 2T instant potato flakes, 3t active dry yeast, 1/2t vanilla extract, 1/8t lemon extract, pinch nutmeg, egg white for glaze; bake at 325deg for 50-60mins.

  28. Jean

    Oh, I love these! I laughed so hard at the bundt cake fiascos. Gotta tell you, practically everything I make is a bit of a mess, regular cooking, too, but it all tastes marvelous! That’s what matters. That totally stuck bundt? Perfect delivery system for chocolate whipped cream as frosting. No one will notice the missing cake. And if they do? Tell them it was a design element.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Jean, my feelings exactly. The only time the birds get anything from my kitchen is if it tastes bad. Tastes good, looks bad? Who cares! Certainly not the 20-something guys next door at the car repair shop who are happy to have one of my tasty (although unattractive) treats for their coffee breaks… PJH

  29. Diane

    My biggest was thinking butcher paper was a good substitute for parchment paper for baking bread. It stuck permanently to the crust.

    Reply
  30. Robin H

    This was back in my younger days, first married, first dinner for our friends. I made a 2 layer cake with a 7 Minute cooked frosting. I had no idea what I was doing. I guess I didn’t cook it long enough, it was kind of runny. So I figured I would fill and ice the cake and put it in the fridge to set. Every time I opened the fridge door, there was a bigger and bigger puddle around the cake. We ended up eating glazed cake with sauce. To this day when I make a cake I always have to check it once I’ve finished and put it in the fridge. I guess I’m still waiting for the puddle to happen again!

    Reply
    1. Marti

      My specialty is pulling pies, biscuits, cookies, you name it, out of the oven, and watching them somehow slide off the baking rack onto the floor. Or turning a pan of dinner rolls out onto the cooling rack, and seeing them jump off the kitchen table. And just yesterday, I made quiche bites, and stupidly filled the little crusts to the brim. Next thing I knew, smoke was pouring out of the oven, and the smoke alarm was raising Cain. Incredibly, the quiche still tasted great, but hope I learned my lesson. And earlier in the week, I decided to make blueberry buckle coffeecake, and when I was making the topping, my eyes somehow read 1/2 tsp of salt rather than 1/8 tsp. The group still raved about the cake despite the topping (in my opinion ) being tremendously salty, which is a true testament to how great King Arthur Flour recipes are.

  31. Crystal

    Your adorable article did two things for me; one, it made me laugh and nod in recognition and two, your mistakes made me feel so much better about my own! Thanks for keeping such a light heart. I ❤️ King Arthur Flour!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      We’re all in this together, Crystal – through successes AND mistakes! PJH

  32. PWhite

    The other night I was making meatballs for dinner. Seasoned with terriyaki, glazed with a little honey. Earlier in the day, I recalled seeing a container of leftover rice in the fridge, and I grabbed it to heat up in the same pan with the meatballs. Two red flags were not sufficient to stop me….Not only did I not recall having made rice recently, but the texture sure looked odd! Never mind, dumped it into the meatballs and then realized it was sweetened shredded coconut that I had leftover from making macaroons! Really an odd addition to the meatballs and not a good substitute for rice!

    Reply
  33. Jean

    I was baking a lemon tart in a tart pan with a removable bottom. When I took it out of the oven I put my hand on the bottom of the pan so the rim — the very hot rim — fell on my arm. Needless to say, I then dropped the entire tart which was literally a hot mess all over my oven and floor. For Christmas, my husband bought me a set of oven mitts from the restaurant supply store that goes up to my elbows. Like I will ever make that mistake again! =)

    Reply
    1. Sheila

      Ouch! I was making stollen one Christmas Eve morning, and somehow got my arm against the oven rack – I had 2nd degree burns, but I finished making stollen for the entire extended family, DH bandaged me up and I was on painkillers for days. I still have the scar.

  34. Elaine McCain

    Before I retired from being a middle school FACS teacher, I encountered two very sneaky, very greedy young men during a cookie-baking lab. Unbeknownst to me, they doubled the sugar and the margarine thinking to make more cookies than allowed. As the dough melted it ran off the cookie sheet, started a fire in the oven, and set off the fire alarms in the building! When it was all over, my young friends had to come back after school to scrub down the oven and scour the baking sheet. We all learned a lesson that day–about baking for the boys, and about sneaky adolescents for me!

    Reply
  35. Jennifer Trumbore

    I was making peach pie, which calls for pats of butter on top of the filling before you put the top crust on. I mis-read the directions as 1 stick butter, (instead of 1 tbsp stick butter). That butter basically burnt right away, and made the kitchen fill with terrible-smelling smoke! My husband gamely tried to eat the pie anyway, til I told him he could just go ahead and throw it out. 😀

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Not holding back — but it was a couple of years ago and I don’t quite remember other than Mom and kids were practicing their pizza dough tossing skills in the kitchen, and one got tossed too high — into the ceiling fan. As I recall, the fan managed to chop the dough into pieces and whirl them around the kitchen so they splattered on the walls. Now THAT’S a totally unforeseen disater! PJH

    2. Patti

      Similar to when i tried churning butter with my mixer. Left the kitchen for a “minute” and came back to find the cat and dog licking cream/butter off the walls.

  36. Sarah Williams

    My mother did the same thing with her sourdough starter. She had some she had kept going for decades, put the Tupperware in the oven away from drafts and forgot it was in there and turned on the oven. Dead starter and plastic melted all over the oven.
    I managed to melt an aluminum clad pot on my stove and was fortunate enough not to burn down my house. Only had to replace the element on the stove.

    Reply
  37. Deborah Nolan

    I was asked my husband to make a rum chocolate cake…well, the more rum the better, right? It looked beautiful until it slid completely apart. So it went into a bowl with whipped cream and now the “bowl cake” is a family favorite!

    Reply
    1. Sonia

      What a great idea! Kudos to you for not giving up and coming up with a creative solution 🙂

  38. Susan

    I was making the KAF vanilla bundt cake and used baking soda instead of baking powder! Nasty. However I did it again and it was wonderful!! Light and just the right sweetness. We all enjoyed it. Thanks so much for your wonderful recipes.

    Reply
  39. Kbp

    I forgot I had meringue drying in the oven. I asked hubby to preheat oven for dinner. My meringue were charcoal briquettes.

    Reply
  40. Karen sievertson

    Well, here’s mine.
    I bake several babkas to sell at my local farmers market every week. I bake breads as well. One bakes at 325 and the other at 425.
    It was a busy day and so I turned the oven on to preheat as I do at the start of my baking day. Popped 6 babkas in for their first half of baking. At the halfway point I opened the oven to rotate and saw what should have been partially baked beauties with dark brown, almost burnt tops instead.
    Yikes!!! I had them at 425, not 325. Checked them and no way done inside.
    In a panic, I called your baking hot line. Your wonderful baker who helped me talked me through a way to save them.
    I only lost one and the 2nd was ok for my family to eat. These were the ones closest to the walls.
    The other four I foiled the tops and continued til done inside.
    Could not have averted this disaster without you guys!!! I was told the internal temp I needed to reach for doneness and other tips. The other ten I baked were great. Never made that mistake again!!!
    Love you guys!!! Thanks!!!
    By the way, my favorite disaster you posted is the forgotten starter and thermometer.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Karen, so happy we could help you salvage a potential disaster – especially with all the ingredients that go into a babka! PJH

  41. Carrie

    Mine just happened a couple of weeks ago when I tried your delicious looking Honey Oat Bread. I was making it for a church dinner, so I wanted more than one loaf. Instead of making 2 seperate loaves, I thought I’d save time and double the recipe. I knew better than to try this the night before, and it failed completely. It sank during the second rise in the pans, but I baked them anyway and when they cooled- they were hard as a rock!

    Reply
  42. mumpy

    love the april fools post….look forward to it all year….thanks for sharing your goofs and preventing our goofs!

    Reply
  43. Angela Hasenhundl.

    I will always remember my mother had put bread dough in the oven for a first rising. It was in a giant bowl and about the amount of six loaves. Yes she forgot about it and began preheating the oven. We devoured that giant loaf of bread like it was dessert.

    Reply
  44. Pamela Grove

    By any chance, with all the things you have sticking lately.,,,,have you been using the baking spray using the brand name of “Pam”? Of course years ago when it first appeared on the market it was the only thing available like this for quite a long time. I used to get teased about it for a while until people just got used to it being a normal thing in their kitchen. Well close to 20 years ago I began buying items like this and other baking and cooking items in bulk at warehouse stores or through eating establishments I know and actually buying items wholesale. The brand name of the spray PAM is not usually available for purchase in this manner. I would use whatever the brand name that was sold in the warehouse system would be selling. It has been years and years and years since I had used the actual spray PAM. About a year ago, perhaps last summer I shockingly ran out of the baking spray in the middle of a day of baking.Normally I am well stocked up in items and never run out of things. Just ask my mother, she always nags at me and says my pantry, for the home of a single woman, looks like I’m preparing for a depression. So I run out of this item…..as its at least 20 to 25 minutes to the closest warehouse location I didn’t want to stop so I ran across the street to a little small town market. The only type of baking or cooking spray they sold were cans of PAM. I bought it and began using it. Thankfully within the next week or so I was able to get out and get what I normally use. Over the next several weeks I began to have items stick when baking, projects looking as bad as some of these. Cakes I had made numerous times with no problem in Nordic ware elaborate Bundt pans. Some with very small crevices. I had NEVER had any problems. At first I didn’t make the correlation with the change of the product as it didn’t happen every single time I baked. Perhaps I had done cupcakes which always use the papers or other cakes where I had used parchment so it took a while for me to notice I had lost at least 4 or 5 or even 6 major cakes to sticking. Considering I hadn’t had one stick in 10 to 15 years at least that many in several weeks is bizarre. One day when this happened my dad just happened to have dropped by and was standing in the kitchen talking with me. Well I let out a major yell when ANOTHER cake stuck, destroyed, and he asked what was wrong. I’m not sure what he said any more to make me think of it but all of a sudden it hit me…..the problems began when I purchased that can of PAM spray. THAT was the problem. I had naturally continued to use it even after buying my regular because I always try not to waste, of course I’m thinking the problems were my fault. But when I realized it had only been since using that product I walked over and dropped it in the trash. I was SO angry at the loss of the ingredients…..the flour, the nuts, the BUTTER, which isn’t cheap and other ingredients I almost did up an invoice to send to the corporation that makes the item. Not however that I was under any illusion that they would have paid it. But I’ve always been curious if anyone else has had problems with this particular product. By any chance, do you use the PAM non-stick baking spray at the kitchens at King Arthur Flour? Could this be the cause of your sticking problem? Best of luck in future recipes…..PAM G.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Pam, we use Everbake in the test kitchen — and I’ve been using it at home, too, for probably two decades, so can’t say I have any experience with Pam spray… PJH

    2. Georgia

      Wow, I use “PAM” all the time, and rarely have any trouble. One exception is one KitchenAid whole wheat bread recipe that said to butter the loaf pans, because vegetable sprays would stick. I buttered one pan, and used Pam on the other. Lost track of which was which, but one pan slipped out and the other one stuck. Always used butter for that recipe after that 🙂
      There’s also a “Baking PAM” that includes flour. Works pretty well for my Bundts, brownies, and coffeecakes.
      So I haven’t felt the need to try ordering Everbake.

    3. Margy

      I use Pam for baking which contains flour for cakes, and have never had a problem, even with bundt cakes. Regular Pam I only use for cooking/sautéing, because it leaves a residue on baking pans that is almost impossible to get off. I use butter and a parchment sling for bread items.

  45. Gena

    Oh, PJ! These were a riot. My disaster this year? My first attempt at sourdough bread using KAF starter. Everything was going fine until I put the dough in the oven to proof with a little plastic wrap over it. (You can see where this is going, right?) And, of course, I forgot that there was plastic wrap on it when I fired up the oven to bake. Cue bubbling plastic fusing irreparably to now flattened sourdough loaf. Couldn’t even leave it out for the birds.

    I love the April Fools’ Annuals. Thanks for continuing to remind us that even KAF bakers occasionally have kitchen disasters!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Gena, change “occasionally” to “regularly” and you’re absolutely right. I love disasters – they help me find every single “pain point” a recipe has to offer. 🙂 PJH

  46. Michelle

    When our kids were little, we had magnetic childproof locks on all of our cabinets and a very strong magnet “key” to hold against the doors to open. Well, apparently my bundt pan was magnetic. Imagine our surprise to find the misshapen “key” on the outside of the pan when flipping out a cake. And we continued to use the warped key for years after…but were careful not to leave it on the countertop again.

    Reply
  47. Kristin

    The birthday cake I baked for myself that for a still unknown reason completely crumbled into a million pieces. I layered the crumbles with the chocolate raspberry butter cream I had made inside a springform pan put it in the freezer for an hour then removed the pan, poured the ganache over the top right before serving, and everyone raved it was the best cake they had ever had!

    Reply
  48. Karen D Miller

    Thought I would try a strawberry chiffon cake with 7 minute frosting for my (now ex) husband’s birthday. Why? Can’t really say. He wasn’t terribly discerning, but I wanted to show off. Mixed up the batter – poured the batter in a glass rectangle pan and threw it into the oven. Started the frosting and brought it up to temp, then took it off the heat to beat until glossy and voluminous. I peeked in the oven and the cake had puffed up like an overfilled waterbed. I snatch it from the oven, put it on top of the stove and turn back to my frosting. Which unlike the cake was not in the least bit voluminous.

    But what was that smell? Oh no – I hadn’t turned of the frosting burner before I set the cake on it. now there was a big black @ in the shape of the burner coils on the bottom of the cake. I took the cake off the burner and dumped it out onto the counter, cutting out the burned circle and salvaging several slabs. I decided to cobble together a napoleon style layered torte instead.

    When he sat down to cut this travesty, I noted that it looked like I had layered 3 kitchen sponges with frosting. In the end, for all the appreciation he showed, it would probably have been cheaper and faster.

    Reply
  49. Sherrey

    Loved seeing these wonderful messes! Makes me feel 100%
    Better about some of my “what in the heck happened here!!”
    messes.Thanks so much!

    Reply
  50. Kathy

    I made a chiffon cake using a new angel food cake pan. I inverted the cake to cool only to find the entire cake slid out of the pan. I wondered about using a non stick pan but I thought they knew what they were doing!

    Reply
  51. Wendy Sites

    Years ago I baked pies at my home for a local eatery. I had an oven in the kitchen and one in the basement. I always baked from 8pm -2am. At night I would leave the basement light on to remind myself there was a pie in the basement oven. I had one blueberry pie left in the basement oven when I inadvertently switched off the light. I thought “I’ll remember,” and went about cleaning up. Then went to bed. And dreamt all night about blueberries. Kids got up and the day went along, then at about 4 o’clock that afternoon I finally remembered the pie! It was a solid piece of charcoal one half the normal pie size!!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      HA, Wendy, definitely something I’d do. And have done, chiefly with bread. Charcoal is an apt description… 🙂 PJH

  52. Christine

    This made me feel SO much better about my Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake disaster. I had made it several times and decided to make one for a church event. Baking late in the day, not paying attention to the butter/sugar consistency and being impatient turned the yummy bundt into a Bundt Crumble 🙁 . Church got brownies and we got Cranberry Orange toasted crumbles to eat with ice cream!

    Reply
  53. Frances

    Early in my bread baking “career” when I relied solely on a bread machine, I was making whole wheat bread. As the dough was mixing, it just would not form a ball and seemed too wet. I added more than a cup more “flour” and finally attained a drier consistency, if not a ball. As it baked, it had little to no rise. I put it down to amateur screw-up.

    It turned out to be a HUGE understatement. What I had done when I thought I was adding whole wheat flour was to add chocolate whey protein powder which I stored close by in a locking plastic container like those I stored my flour in.

    It wasn’t until I attempted to eat a slice of the densest bread I had ever eaten that it occurred to me what I must have done. When I checked….sure enough…I’m surprised the yeast and I survived!

    Reply
  54. Lucy

    I thoroughly enjoyed the boo-boos. I have had fewer of those since I started using your scrupulously tested recipes. Then there was the time last winter when I created a lovely batch of biscotti and left them out to cool on a rack in the kitchen. As I was falling asleep I heard a metallic scraping downstairs. A recipe tester, the rodent type, was dragging a cookie off the rack! Argh! I had no other choice but to discard the whole lot of them.

    Reply
    1. Gloria

      This reminds me of the time when I made an orange cranberry loaf. It turned out wonderful, so I let it cool on a table. The cat thought it was quite delicious!

    2. Margy

      I had made a batch of brownies and left them on to of the stove to cool overnight. Should have known better. Sure enough, in the morning, I found a bunch of “nibbles” from some little visitors (house is really old with an open crawl space, so mice are inevitable).
      Score: Mice 1, Baker 0

  55. Julie Pelletier

    This one’s not actually a baking disaster but definitely a kitchen stove experience. I had an electric stove/oven for all of my married years and was very comfortable with it. A couple of years ago we converted our home to natural gas and were amazed at how much we saved by not buying heating oil. So my husband asked if it might be worth converting to a gas stove to save even more. I was not comfortable with that and he didn’t mention it again. We had friends in for dinner one evening and I put the kettle on for tea after we’d eaten. I went back to the table for conversation and, after a while, I heard something sizzling in the kitchen when nothing should have still been cooking. I went to the kitchen to find that I had accidentally turned on the FRONT burner under the Corning Ware dish holding the leftover beef tenderloin! Both the meat and the dish were burnt solid black but, amazingly, the dish never cracked! It also never came clean. Results: I LOVE MY NEW GAS RANGE!!! 😂

    Reply
  56. D Ferrara

    We bake thousands of cookies every year, and every year, something will go wrong. We have discovered what we call Delicious Disasters along the way.

    For example, Crispy Cheesecake Bites. These are spawned when the pan of mini-cheesecakes is left for an extra hour in the oven. They are no longer creamy, but they still have that distinctive cheesecake flavor, with a crispness that has great mouth feel.

    Or, although not a cookie, Bacon on a Bone – spareribs left in the smoker just a tad too long, The meat passes through tough into a crunchy, bacon-like texture.

    They almost make up for the cookie puddles and incinerated lumps.

    Reply
  57. Wendy

    I only previously confessed to one sister-in-law that the beautiful delicious trifle I brought to a family gathering was supposed to be an intact cake. When it fell apart on me (& after a barrage of obscenities in my kitchen) I ran to the grocery store. I layered up whipped cream, the ganache I was going to put over the cake, berries and the chocolate cake in my trifle bowl. That sucker disappeared fast and I retained my title as the dessert girl!

    Reply
  58. Megan O'Neil

    What a fun read! Thanks, PJ, while I know professional bakers must have the same issues I have in the kitchen (carbonized blueberry muffins, anyone?), you never really believe it! The pics made it real! Love your humor and writing–wouldn’t mind tasting some of those fails, too! 😄

    Reply
  59. Betty Barkley

    The first blooper was making a Coconut Cream Pie,
    Forgot to bake the crust before adding the filler
    Kind of Gooey
    The second was just a few weeks ago.
    I have a round thing that I put pies on to bake so they won’t boil over in the oven
    Took the apple pie out, it slipped off and landed in the trash.
    The good thing was that the trash can was right by the stove.
    I have double oven stove and use the top oven most of the time

    Reply
  60. Betty Barkley

    I don’t do as much baking as I used too.
    All my kids are married and gone from home but I still like to share with other people when I do bake

    Reply
  61. Kim

    I have too many bloopers to remember them all (one must move on, right?), but here’s one: I’m a southerner who can usually make biscuits in my sleep. But if you use all purpose, thinking it’s self-rising, you get something akin to “hardtack.”
    In defense of your “failed” chocolate chip cookies, however, I LOVE them that way, and I add a little extra sugar (white) to make them that way intentionally–everyone loves them. The only downside is you can only make 6 to a pan to allow for the spread.

    Reply
  62. Betty Barkley

    I love the bloopers you post and enjoy getting the email from King Author Flour with recipes from different people

    Reply
  63. Susan Schuff

    Your article so reminds me of your original catalogs. Oh they were so enjoyable. Small enough to drop into your bag for reading (and laughing out loud, when it wasn’t just three short letters) in any waiting room. Or my favorite, sitting down and reading cover to cover. The humor, just like above, was delicious, along with all the valuable tips and idea. Thank you for making my day.

    Reply
  64. Laurie Jean Curtis

    When I was a teenager I was making molasses cookies for the first time. You had to melt the shortening and let it cool before adding it to the batter. I didn’t let it cool long enough and poured it right on top of the eggs. Cooked them up.

    Reply
  65. Sheila

    Not baking, but I was making jelly to bring to a Thanksgiving market. On the last batch I made a rookie mistake – I stepped away from the stove to put a bowl in the dishwasher. DO NOT EVER leave a pan of jelly unattended – even for the time it takes you to move 6ft away (and back)! Wish I could attach a photo of what my glass-top stove looked like afterwards. It was too gooey to scrape entirely off so I had to turn both front and back burners on High and burn it off. The house smelled like caramel, but the jelly was good – one of the best I’ve ever made (of course I had to sample what was left in the pan after filling 8 jars).

    Ouch on the Thermopen – but I made a similar (not quite as expensive!) mistake when I was a new mom. I had bought some snap-block (puffy plastic) links for my son at a consignment store. Of course I had to wash them but water got inside and I didn’t want them to mold, so I put them in an oven I’d warmed to 170 degrees then turned off. All was fine until, just like you, I wanted to bake something and turned it on to preheat…

    Reply
  66. Beth T

    I have a small cupcake business, and making 56 dozen (in 12 flavours) for a two-day fair left me with no room to store them in my very small bungalow, so I popped some (in their plastic containers) into my double oven. You guessed it! Forgot they were there, turned the oven on to 350F and welded the containers to the shelves, destroying their contents in the process. Big oopsie! And a huge “I owe you one…for the rest of my life” to my long-suffering hubby, who cleaned off the shelving. Stayed up until 3 a.m. making more cupcakes and wishing I learned better from bitter experience..

    Reply
  67. Susan

    Well, I’ve made many such disasters as yours, such as removing a quiche from the oven, deciding it wasn’t set, returning it to the oven, with a potholder underneath which caught fire, in front of guests–we like to provide entertainment with our meals– but my most memorable wasn’t actually a baking one. I had a bag of fresh cranberries and a salad spinner….and I used to (when washing lettuce) take the lid off to watch the lettuce spin around. Not recommended with cranberries! They flew out like shrapnel & landed EVERYWHERE in the kitchen/familyroom. Despite valiant attempts to collect them all, when packing to move six months later, we found…little dried up cranberries in the strangest places.

    Reply
    1. Helen G.

      That is the funniest kitchen story I’ve ever heard, Susan. I’m still laughing out loud!! hahahaha

  68. Sharon

    Great article! Thanks for giving all of us bakers a renewed sense of security. While I’ve had my share of disasters I have found the best way to explain them to family et al is to blame some inanimate object in the kitchen, i.e. it’s the ovens fault or the yeast’s fault, cheap pan’s fault etc. it earns you lots of sympathetic nods and only you know the truth! 😊

    Reply
  69. Kristin

    I had one of your Pannetone mixes (which are excellent, by the way) and the expiration date had come and gone. I just took out the yeast package and added the correct amount of fresh yeast, mixed it up in the bread machine and put in in a low, turned off oven to rise. I kind of forgot about it and when I looked it had risen way higher than it should have. Went ahead and baked it anyway. It rose even more, up over the baking paper and down the side and on to the sheet pan. looked like it was trying to escape. It was still good though. I figured it was the really fresh yeast or it didn’t like me forgetting about it..

    Reply
  70. Dragana M.

    I was making your Doughnut muffins and decided to put a teaspoon of strawberry jam inside. Creative and delish, ain’t it? Turns out I put too much batter on the bottom of each muffin cup, and then I put the jam, which made the batter rise even more, and then I covered it with remaining batter. Well, thanks to both raising agents (baking soda&powder) and my clueless mind, I didn’t put a baking tray under the muffin tin, so there was muffin batter and strawberry jam all over the oven, and the muffins that stayed in their muffin cups were extremely funny looking. But boy, did they taste good! My boyfriend still talks about how delicious they were, he even forgets to mock my failure 😀

    Reply
  71. Dportlu

    It’s not baking, but it pays to notice on microwave directions the words “use half power”. The result tends to be crunchy; not a good texture for Eggplant Parmigiana.

    Is there a cook’s equivalent to the carpenters admonition; measure twice, cut once.

    Reply
  72. Helen S. Fletcher

    What a great post. As a pastry chef and blogger I think people sometimes think everything comes out perfectly every time. If you bake long enough or do it professionally, I think many of these would happen. My fav was wanting to warm the oven to give my brioche a place to rise and forgetting it was on until I smelled baked bread. Saddest brioche I’ve ever made. Thanks for a great post.

    Reply
  73. Shauna

    One of my worst mistakes almost killed my parents. I made my famous (now infamous) sticky buns from the KAF recipe and baked them in a glass pan. The trickiest part of the recipe is taking the hot pan from the oven and inverting it so all that cinnamon sticky goodness spreads on top of the buns. As I did that step, I hit the pan on the edge of the tile counter and it broke all over the buns! My mom and dad picked glass from the buns because they still wanted to eat them. We thought we got it all, but when we sat down to breakfast and started eating and found ourselves chewing glass, we had to give up and throw them all away. I now only bake sticky buns in a metal pan.

    Reply
    1. Monique Doryland

      Oh OH. Recently made tdaziki, which I can’t spell, from scratch, using vegan yogurt, so I hung the yogurt first in cheesecloth to get the denser texture of Greek yogurt, painstakingly hand-chopped the cucumber, put in the salt, the hand-chopped garlic, the fresh dill, yes, oh it was good, couldn’t get the snapping lid to snap on, so banged the snap side flange against a wood table……oh it hurts just to type this! Shattered glass everywhere. I tried to save it, but most in a bowl, tasted it the next day, first bite OH MY GOD that’s good, second bite, crunch crackle……entire delicious batch into the garbage.

  74. Susan

    In college, I was part of Baldwin food CO-OP, making lovely cinnamon rolls for Sunday Brunch – for 90. They came out of the oven, they were stunning – gorgeous even, our first try. Then a taste — turns out subbing baking soda for baking powder was NOT a good idea. 100+ gorgeous cinnamon rolls – now hockey pucks and frisbees for the trash. SO sad. Ironically, I was on bread duty with another bread newbie for winter term. We used nutritional yeast in our first batch. No rise, trash it went. We used a muffin recipe for our second batch thinking to outsmart the yeast gods – doesn’t actually cook all the way through before burning outside, finally, my partner is bread disaster had to sub out one week for someone else. Who actually had made bread before. It was fun, and divine, and I started baking bread as a way to study. 10 min of mix/knead followed by 50 min of rise/study. Worked well.

    Also, I use mini chop chips when I put them in a bundt. add 1/2 bag to full batter, pour half in pan, then add rest of bag to last half batter and pour on top.

    Reply
  75. Mary Gendron

    I’ve got several goofs for you. Years ago, when I was first married, my husband leveled my oven. So come baking time– you guessed it- he left the level in the oven. all the plastic bubbles were melted. I became a professional baker. One large batch of brownies required melted chocolate chips with sugar and eggs, then mix in flour ingredients last. Forgot to add the flour, never did that again. Another time I was baking a bundt cake in an electric oven. We were in a rural area, and lost power for about 45 minutes. I left the cake in the oven and prayed for the best. After the power came back on, after a while I checked the cake. it seemed to be done, sides puled away, top springs back, tooth pick clean. It was served that night in the dining room. Best cake ever, they said, but funny in the middle. The middle looked like s solid chocolate pudding. Never could duplicate that goof. Then there was the cheesecake. My husband was waiting for me to finish up, the cooks wanted the ovens. The cheesecake was finally done. I pulled it out of the oven and promptly dumped it upside down on the floor. Cheesecake soup anyone? Needless to say i had to clean up that mess before leaving.

    Reply
  76. Mary Gendron

    Here”s another real good one. My parents were having a 35th Anniversary. So I made and decorated a 3 layer Wedding type cake, with plastic pillars, ( I glued on green glitter for emerald), and the trim was green. Some high school kids were having an after prom party very close by with very loud music. I went to bed, (I fell asleep from exsausion) the cake was all done, looking beautiful. I woke up to my husband saying, “Mary I think you have a problem.”
    The vibrations from the music caused all the icing to flow off the cake. I didn’t have any more fixings for icing, no the time to get more. So I had to scrape it all off and mix it all together for a pale green color and stack the layers together, instead of in tiers. It came out okay, but I was so disappointed.

    Reply
  77. Diana

    Years ago, my Mom baked a cheesecake that called for 5 packages of cream cheese, in addition to the other ingredients. Naturally, this was for company. The cheesecake looked delicious with its blueberry topping, perfect height, etc. One bite and I could see one of our guests wincing….Mom had been called away to the phone while putting the cake together and she forgot to add the sugar! Made a good topping for bagels!

    Reply
  78. Laurie & Leah in Ohio

    The Great Popcorn Fail, with an Encore!

    I wanted to ditch the expense of commercial microwave popcorn bags along with their chemicals, fat, and excess salt. Finding popcorn on the cheap was easy: 30 ounces for $3 at Walmart = 10 cents per 1 ounce batch! Then, after a little research online, I found an easy way to make this healthy snack in the micro with nothing but the popcorn kernels and a brown paper bag. This method left some kernels unpopped, which didn’t bother me at all, because the popcorn was so cheap. I just threw them away. Unfortunately, these little nuggets of almost popcorn drove our sweet popcorn fiend to popcorn-induced insanity, and she continued to pop them until they ALL popped, every single one,…and the brown paper bag was on fire! Okay, it’s pretty obvious we needed a safer method of popping corn, so I scoured the internet and found what I thought was a truly FOOLPROOF method, but as you will see, I was the FOOL, and I have PROOF!

    It looked like the perfect solution — just put about 1/8 cup of kernels in a large, microwave-safe bowl, set a plate on top, and then set the time, 1 minute and 15 seconds. It worked great; my red plastic bowl didn’t even get warm. So, great idea, right? Well, apparently not at our house. Our popcorn fiend, again, absolutely couldn’t stand to leave the “old maids” unpopped, so she again put them back in the microwave and increased the time to make absolutely sure they ALL popped this time,…and they did. Popcorn-greed madness strikes again! My lovely red plastic bowl didn’t survive the 4 minutes on high! The smoky odor of incinerated popcorn and melted plastic in the kitchen was just a happy little bonus! (Yes, of course I’m kidding!) Why exactly was I the fool? Two reasons, and I’ll bet you’ve already guessed them. One, after several successful batches, I thought I could leave her alone in the kitchen to pop her corn. (Big “duh!” to me.) Two, the plastic bowl — it just couldn’t withstand the heat of the popcorn kernels when they reached the temperature of the sun!

    Her Daddy said we have 3 choices:
    1- give up eating popcorn forever (that one nearly killed Leah!),
    2- go back to the chemical-laden microwave popcorn bags (that one nearly killed me!),
    3- or, buy a container made for this purpose (Daddy said, “go for it!).
    Okay, we have all learned that lesson. I made the purchase, and popcorn is again safely popping in the Miller household. All’s well hat ends well.

    I wish I could include the snapshot I took of Leah looking at the camera through the missing bottom of my beloved big red plastic bowl. I guess I’ll have to start calling it my big plastic picture frame Does anyone know where I can get a replacement? :-/

    After 2 scary popcorn malfunctions, it’s really just a coincidence that she happened to be wearing a shirt that has “ENCORE” emblazoned across it!

    Reply
  79. Carolyn

    A few months ago my husband gave me a new red Vitamix to match many of my other small kitchen appliances. It had a shorter canister but was otherwise similar to the older black machine I’d been using for years. First use was to make a breakfast smoothie with frozen fruit, yogurt, protein powder, etc. Put everything in the machine and turned it on; it sounded like a machine gun going off. I thought the frozen strawberries must be especially hard that morning, or there was something different about the new machine, and persisted trying to get the mixture to blend. When my husband came to check out the noise, we removed the lid and discovered that I had left a long-handled measuring spoon used for the protein powder in the canister. The spoon was mangled and the canister inside was marred, otherwise everything was fine.

    Not really a baking disaster, but definitely a DUH moment in the kitchen! Thanks to you and to your other readers for sharing their stories – it helps me see that I’m not the only one who has them.

    Reply
  80. Kay

    I simply couldn’t laugh at the bundts for they looked like most of mine. I have learned to salvage/patch/saved. And, it is barely visible (except to me) under all the frosting.

    Reply
  81. Ann Brown

    As a child, I grew up at my grandma elbow, learning from a farm cook. My mother on the other hand could never learn to cook. When my husband and I moved back here to take care of my mom, she decided to make a Bundt cake for my birthday. I had all of the best pans etc. She didn’t prep the pan just mixed up the box mix,poured it into pan and stuck in oven. I get home three hours later, and she was crying, said she didn’t know what went wrong, cake wouldn’t bake. She hadn’t turned on the oven!!!!

    Reply
  82. Lynn Hellers

    Lynn

    I had made the most beautiful apple pie of my life! The crust had rolled out perfectly, the apples hadn’t cooked down leaving an empty dome at the top ( we’ve all had that happen).
    The egg wash was even and it had a great looking glaze which I covered with decorating sugar. Gosh I was so happy! That is until we took a bite. I was in a hurry when I grabbed the decorating sugar and,much to my chagrin and disappointment, I grabbed the bag of kosher salt instead! Now I keep salt & sugars on different shelves and in different bags.
    As you said I too have learned over the years that as long as it tastes good an occasional screw up is ok. Glazes and frostings can hide many mishaps!

    Reply
  83. Janine

    I buy many items in bulk and put them in labeled containers. I was having folks over for dinner and “gluten-free” was requested, so decided on arrowroot to thicken the gravy. Dinner’s ready, yum-yum, let’s eat! Except… what is that awful taste?! Oh, that would be the tablespoons of Cream of Tartar that I dumped in that poor gravy instead of arrowroot. I actually googled whether one could die from cream of tartar overdose! (no, you can’t 🙂

    Reply
  84. Kathy

    My biggest blooper occurred on Christmas Eve probably ten years ago. I have an unspoken rule with the retired farmer down the road. He shares the bounty of his garden and when I bake I always make an extra pie, cake, cookies to give to him during the year. Christmas and Thanksgiving are always pumpkin pies. I figured he was getting tired of pumpkin so I decided to make him an apple/cranberry pie. When I took it out of the oven it was magazine-cover perfect and my house smelled delicious. It was getting late and very cold so I decided to place the still-warm pie in a cardboard box lid and deliver it before he went to bed. As I opened the porch door, the cardboard buckled. I quickly lowered myself toward the ground to try to salvage the pie but no luck! It slid in slow motion down the cold asphalt driveway and landed under my son’s high performance sports car. Steam wafted instantly as the very warm pie plate hit the cold driveway. It was a Christmas miracle – the plate didn’t break and much of the mangled pie stayed in the pan. After utter despair, I returned to my kitchen and stuck a spoon in the delicious pie….and quickly made a pumpkin pie for the farmer.

    Reply
  85. Linda

    A friend just recently reminded me of a dinner party I had about 20 years ago where I mixed up the sugar and baking powder amounts for one horrible biscuit. Glad to know I’m not the only knuckle head some times when it comes to cooking. Especially baking. Less forgiving than your average recipes.

    Thanks for the wonderful article on Boo-boos.

    Reply
  86. Janice Cagan-Teuber

    Thank you, all, for your stories. I admit I laughed out loud at most of them. One time, I used to make all my son’s birthday cakes, from the age of 1 to maybe 12 or 13. I and he would pick out a theme, and I would “run” with it. I made a bowling alley, an airport, a police and fire station, with construction crews, etc. Much fun. However, one year, the theme was Pirates. We went to the cake decorating store to buy the pirates, treasure chest, tropical trees, ship, etc. (all small and plastic, right?).

    Then, it was time for me to make the cake. In order to make what my son and I had designed, we needed a large, fairly deep cake. A thick 1/2 sheet cake. Made the batter and put it in the oven to bake. Temp … perfect. Timer … set. Now … wait. Checked it when the timer rang. Middle still gloppy. Set timer for another 15 minutes. Middle, better, but still not solid. I didn’t want the rest to burn, so I took it out, and set it to cool. The entire top was solid. I had no idea that I was fooled. After about 10 minutes of cooling in the pan, I turned it over to get the cake out of the pan, and … what came out was a lovely chocolate cake, with an oval hole in the middle.

    I was horrified! But … when life gives you lemons … (or a large cake with a hole in it) … I removed one of the sides, and made a lagoon from the empty middle, frosted the cardboard with blue frosting and put the ship in that, then made a couple waterfalls down the “hills of the island” with pirates all over, digging to bury their treasure chest and plastic palm trees on the tops of the hills.

    It was the best decorating success of all my birthday cakes. My son and I still talk about it! (I did take photos of the process, but not sure where they are, not, about 20 years later).

    Reply
  87. EsJayKay

    Gluten-free bakers, BEWARE!
    When I saw the flour on the rug, I was reminded of the time I spilled xanthan gum on the counter. I probably should have used a dry brush to clean most of it. But not thinking, I put a wet sponge to the task. I bet I used a couple gallons of gallons of water to clean up that sticky mess!

    Reply
  88. Linda Pardee

    This post made me feel so much better about my boo-boos. Once I was making Santas Whiskers. When I was cutting the slices I thought the dough was a little soft but thought I just didnt leave in the fridge long enough. But when I opened the oven I saw a puddle of cherries and coconut and oil! I had apparently forgotten to add the flour!!! My family will never let me forget this!!

    Reply
  89. Irene Peery

    Loved the article. My biggest mystery goof was with a cake recipe I had been making for 30 some years. It was my father’s favorite cake – Buttermilk Chocolate sheet cake. I made it just like I always did, baked it and then iced it with chocolate icing to take to a friend’s house. She cut the cake and served it and all I could say was “What in the world?” (only not those words) The cake had separated into a white layer and a chocolate layer while baking, white being on the bottom. The top looked just like normal. It tasted okay, but different. I still don’t know what made that cake separate!

    Reply
  90. Nancy Sullivan

    Loving the posts! My fav was a raspberry cake where the filling was too loose and oozed out into the white chocolate buttercream frosting. I finally realized it would never look right, so I crumbled it up and layered it with whipped cream in a glass bowl.. voila! Trifle! My reputation was saved.

    Reply
  91. Lily

    This was really good to read. I haven’t had many interesting recipe failures, but one year I was making a Buche de Noël on Christmas, and when I inverted the hot jelly roll pan onto the powdered sugar-laden towel, I somehow inverted it onto my arm, instead. The pan was lined with wax paper, which made it worse, I think. I spent the evening with my arm in a bucket of water while the family wandered around looking for Christmas dinner to bring home. And it took a year for the scar to fade.

    Reply
  92. Linda

    I really enjoyed all the funny stories. My own biggest blunder was making no knead bread while away on holidays. We had rented a beachfront apartment on the Oregon coast and wanted homemade bread to have with all the fresh seafood so I packed all the ingredients in plastic bags inside the Dutch oven. I mixed up the first batch using sea water (filtered through a coffee filter ….no salt necessary)
    And left it overnight. The next day I put my casserole dish in the oven to preheat forgetting that I had brought another set of ingredients inside the pot. Needless to say by the time the pot was preheated the plastic bag of flour and yeast was welded to the inside of the pot. I pulled out as much as possible and was able to cook the bread since I always bake it in a parchment sling. The bread was fine …the Dutch oven was never the same. I still use it for bread but that’s all.

    Reply
  93. Donnica

    I bought the KAF chocolate lava cake mix for my mother’s birthday party after promising a spectacular dessert. Made it, but it couldn’t get it to set at all: it was a big fudgy mess with an inch of butter floating on top. Turned up the heat, turned down the heat: nothing worked. I KNEW the problem wasn’t with the mix but couldn’t figure out what went wrong – until I looked on my counter and saw the three eggs I had forgotten to mix in. In desperation I used paper towels to soak up all the liquid butter, stirred the rest, and served the warm gooey mess over ice cream with whipped cream on top. It was FABULOUS and everyone raved. That’s why I love KAF: they make even my failures delicious!

    Reply
  94. Diana

    Just this morning, I was making a batch of apricot and toasted pecan scones that I planned to share with my sister and her husband. I brushed the tops of the cut scones and sprinkled some sugar on top. Beautiful! Before popping them into the oven, I turned to the sink to wash my hands and discovered my bowl of soaked and drained apricot pieces sitting beside the sink, waiting to be added to the dough. D’oh! So, since I didn’t want to waste the apricots, I had to make another batch! Anybody want a scone? I have quite a few!

    Reply
  95. Barbara

    I think I may have had too much bread dough in my small pain de mie, but 10 minutes into baking I heard a loud, metallic noise and discovered that the top had blown off the bread pan! Another time the pan leaked some excess dough out of the pan to the bottom of the oven liner and burned. Needless to say, I am more careful now in filling and securing the top because this is one of my favorite pans!

    Reply
  96. Juliet Butler

    My biggest blooper was the first layer baked for my son’s wedding cake – a whopping sixteen by 4 inch round. Came out of the oven looking a little weird so I decided to taste. Good thing I checked — I’d forgotten the sugar! (The rest of the cake and the re-do went smoothly and the wedding was beautiful.)

    Reply
  97. Diane F

    The disaster I remember was from many years ago – the year I was seven, and just beginning to bake on my own. My mother had gone out and left my friend and I to make fudge. Reading the recipe was fine, until we got to ‘cocoa’. Not realizing there was a difference, we used hot chocolate mix (cocoa to us) instead of the baking cocoa.
    We had to chip the resulting ‘fudge’ out of the pan with a hammer and chisel from my dad’s workshop. Solid chunks of oversweet whatever it was, tasted wonderful to us, but you had to be careful not to break a tooth!

    Reply
  98. Pam the Goatherd

    I try to always measure out all my ingredients before starting to make something, but at the holidays when I’m making a whole bunch of different things I usually just set the containers of flour, sugar, etc. on the kitchen table and measure as I go.
    At Thanksgiving I make both apple and pumpkin pie since my family likes to have both. This particular time everything baked up nicely and looked great so it was a big surprise when family members started asking me if I’d tried a new pumpkin pie recipe because this one tasted “different”. I assured them that I had used the same recipe handed down from my grandmother to my mother to me that I always made. Then I took a bite and realized that I completely left out the sugar! I ended up putting extra sugar into the whipped cream and slathered the pie with super-sweet whipped cream so that we were able to eat it. From that day on I ALWAYS make sure to measure out all the ingredients and line them up in order of use on the table before I start mixing.

    Reply
  99. HIlde Henkel

    Once upon a time, when I had first begun bread baking, I had a gooey sullen dough which would not rise, all day. Young and baby frazzled, I tossed the entire mess out the back door of our isolated farmhouse. The next morning, when I went out to clean it up, I was horrified to find a baby chick had got into it and DIED! I have never had such a disaster again—but I would never toss anything outside again, either

    Reply
  100. Gwenn Lasswell

    I can say I’ve made just about all these mistakes and more. Sometimes it’s just the kitchen goddess having her way with us. My favorite two are: the well done Thermapen. All I could see there was $$$$ going up in smoke. For most of us, Thermapen is a luxury kitchen item. In the same photo, however, joy. Your oven is almost as cruddy as mine! I thought you pros had minions who came in every night and rendered all the equipment sparkling and shiny. Thank you for being, in more ways than one, REAL. Blunder on!!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Yes, that melted Thermapen did really pull at my heartstrings, Gwenn (as well as my purse strings!) And would that I had someone cleaning my oven… but really, it’s a sign that it’s well loved, right? (Right…?) PJH

  101. Catherine Hughes

    Great post! My biggest snafu in 2016 wasn’t actually that big of a deal, but it was in stark contrast to the success I had just the day before. I was making a Bailey’s cake. It’s a very simple but delicious cake, that is sorta a variant on a pound cake. I’d made it several times before with great success. This time I actually followed the recipe and used store bought Bailey’s instead of making it. The cake rose up way over the pan, and those parts then proceeded to fall off of the cake, directly onto the element, so I had to take it out way early so the oven didn’t catch fire. Had to throw the whole thing out. Still haven’t figured out what happened.
    The funny part: the day before I made an Angel Food Cake from scratch. Never done it before, turned out perfectly.

    Reply
  102. Lori Gaul

    I filled a full sheet cake pan with chocolate cake batter, turned around to put in oven and the whole thing just tipped and slid out of my hands. Chocolate cake batter puddle all over floor! That was alot of fun to wipe up.

    Reply
  103. Wade Meyer

    Can I come work with you all? At least I would know I am among humans! Loved the melted thermometer and sympathized over the fried sourdough starter.
    Somewhere in my Facebook posts I have pictures of attempts at Pintrest ideas where I ‘nailed it’. You know a lot of stuff still tastes good but just looks bad. I think that is where the invention of the dump cake came from.

    I went and bought coffee in a can just so I can try making a coffee can date-nut cake. Will try the same with a steel canned fruit can. Try that sometime.

    Reply
  104. Jason A

    …The time I accidentally used self-rising flour in gingerbread and it self-rose right into the element. The smoke from that fire still coats that oven, I’m sure.

    Reply
  105. Barbara S

    I made a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving…only I somehow totally forgot any sugar! Pumpkin Quiche is not something that I recommend.

    Reply
  106. Diane Rosen

    When making a pumpkin mousse pie, I decided to add gelatin hoping to make the filling hold together firmly. I was shocked when It turned into a volcano!! I grabbed a huge bowl and put the pie pan in it as the mousse grew and overflowed a lot! We ate all of it though, and it was good, but what a mess!!

    Reply
  107. Joanne Miller

    My most recent blunder was proudly displayed on the #Bakealong thread for the pumpkin cream cheese muffins back in the fall. They looked wonderful and you even made the comment that they looked great. I tried one – found out that I accidentally included the paper liner that came with the foil muffin liners and the paper liner stuck to the batter. (I almost never use paper liners anyway so that’s my excuse for that.). Second mistake was that I left out the oil. The batter felt tough when I bit into it and I realized the mistake. Those beautiful muffins went in the trash 🙁 I’ve enjoyed reading that I’m not the only one to mess a recipe up.

    Reply
  108. Regina Abbott

    Thank you, thank you. I feel so much better now. My fiasco was a spinach soufflé that rose so high it hit the top of the oven and when I tried to rscrape it off the spinach oozed out like green slime all over the oven. The children were happy they didn’t have to eat spinach.

    Reply
  109. Peg

    Years ago I was excited to host my parents for Dad’s birthday in my first apartment, and decided to make brownies. I kept checking them with a toothpick, and couldn’t believe how far off the timing of the recipe was… it took SO long it took for the toothpick to finally come out clean. (ummm…no) After they cooled, I couldn’t even cut them. We had broken chocolate shards on our ice cream.

    Reply
  110. Mary A Brown

    When I was 12, I wanted to make a “from scratch” quick bread and didn’t know the difference between Tbsp and tsp. My father was so gracious and ate a slice before I did and I realized what a Tbsp of salt will do to a 8 x 4 loaf. It was years before I did anything outside of mixes. Sometimes those you bake for help you through the mistakes.

    Reply
  111. John

    Did the same thing with the English Muffin Bread Recipe. Poured wet batter dough into bread pan and let it raise came back and it had grew out of pan down rack and all over the oven were i put it to raise.

    Reply
  112. Gloria in PGH

    I look forward to this post every year! Makes me feel better about my own baking boo-boos. Like just a couple of weeks ago … I was making ciabatta bread using a recipes that I have made successfully for years … and years and years. Well, this time, I was obviously NOT paying attention to either the amount of water or the amount of flour I used. I was using my stand mixer for the initial mixing. When made correctly, at this point the dough will come together on the beater blade in about 6 minutes. This is my favorite part of the mixing process because it happens almost magically. Anyway, this time the 6 minute mark came and went and the dough was still sloppily slapping (say THAT 5 times fast!!) around in the bowl and not showing any sign that it was close to coming together. Confused, I decided to turn up the speed on my mixer. 10 minutes … 12 minutes … 15 minutes and no dice. That dough was still a gloppy mess. As time passed, the smile on my face turned into a grumpy frown. Okay. Time to admit defeat and throw in the towel. I turned off the mixer and paused. Hmmm – the mixer body felt funny; like it was HOT!!! Egads!! I almost burned out the motor in my beloved KitchenAid mixer which I lovingly call Big Red. It took a couple of HOURS for Big Red to cool down to normal. And the dough? Scraped into a couple of plastic grocery bags and thrown into the garbage can where it landed with heavy thunk.

    Reply
  113. Gretchen

    This involved helping a friend who had not done much baking. She asked how to get a sheet cake out of the pan as she wanted to make a 2-layer rectangular cake. I told her to put parchment on the bottom of the pan. I didn’t think I would need to tell her to pull the parchment off before assembling the cake …,

    Reply
  114. Ames

    I had to take a picture of the banana bread that overflowed over only one side and made a nice kind of “mini-me” bread on the pan I thankfully had put the loaf pan on. It was like watching a movie as it kept coming and got bigger and bigger. And the really sad part was the mini-me tasted pretty good, while the rest of it was way too wet. But it really made us laugh! I also took a picture a few weeks ago of my slanty apple cake. I had rushed to take the rack out for popovers and rushed to put it back in when the oven was preheated for the apple cake. Unfortunately I put one side on one channel and the other on the next one up. If it wasn’t a low cake it would have been a nice slanty mess all over the oven. But it still tasted fabulous!

    Reply
  115. Anna

    I have loved reading everyone’s comments, and have a story of my own:
    Many years ago, as my sister’s 18th birthday approached, she began pestering our mother to make her a Mississippi Mud Cake. My mother scoured her cookbooks and asked all of her friends trying to find a recipe. MS Mud Cake, if you didn’t know, is a heavenly confection with chocolate, nuts, and marshmallows baked throughout a lovely chocolatey cake. Well, during this time frame, our mother worked a full-time job and was quite often tired in the evenings and used the weekends for laundry and housework, so I’m sure all of this came into play when asked to provide a dessert she had never even heard of, much less made before!
    Now this particular recipe called for miniature marshmallows to be distributed over the top of the batter before baking. And she probably glanced through the recipe to make sure she had all of the ingredients. We all do that, right? The time comes to sprinkle said miniature marshmallows over the top, and…where are the minis? We always have minis! Oh well, here’s a bag of regular marshmallows. Same thing, right? NOPE. Those suckers puffed up and overflowed the pan, making a huge glom on the bottom of the oven that proceeded to smoke and burn! All this with a huge gathering of extended family there to celebrate the birthday.
    My sister was the first one to peek into the oven. Not sure why there was smoke streaming from the oven (with her much-awaited cake inside), she jerked open the oven door to snatch out the cake pan, and streamed giant globs of marshmallow all over the kitchen floor as she looked for a place to set the cake down, becoming so flustered all she could do was twirl around and around going “Oh! Oh! Oh!” (She’s not very good in a crisis situation.) Needless to say, we all gamely tried the cake after the excitement had died down, only the marshmallows had hardened into a tooth-shattering slab. So it was ice cream only that year for the party. Aah, good times!

    Reply
  116. Susan

    I made an angel food cake and forgot to add the flour. It looked beautiful when it first came out of the oven. I turned it upside down to cool and when I came back an hour later I found only a thin layer of crusty meringue on the counter top.

    Reply
  117. Kathy in VT

    OK. My disaster this past baking year:

    I was providing my very impressive “Famous Brownie Layer Cake with Coffee Chantilly Cream Icing” to take to a friend’s house for a large Thanksgiving Day dinner gathering. I made the homemade brownie layers Thanksgiving eve to allow them to cool sufficiently before icing with the chantilly cream. This would permit the frosted cake to set in the fridge overnight to make cutting slices easier the next day.

    Mind you, I’m not a novice baker and have made this cake for special occasions many times over the years. I greased the pans in preparation for the batter and for a fleeting second I thought “I should use my parchment rounds in the pans since I have them.” NAH. I’ve never used parchment paper when I’ve made this recipe and NEVER had a problem… Ho, ho, ho…

    Well, when the layers were done, I took them out of the oven to cool a bit before turning them out on a rack to cool completely. The first layer would not release from the properly greased pan no matter what I did. I ended up having to dig it out and it came out in brownie chunks of various sizes. The second layer, turned out only the center leaving a perfect ring of brownie around the outside of the pan. What the heck???

    Uh, oh. Now what do I do with this mess? The internet to the rescue! I ended up breaking the rest of the brownies into chunks and making a brownie trifle with coffee chantilly cream layers and fresh raspberries. Not what I planned, but everyone loved it.

    The moral of the story is pay attention to your inner voice and definitely use parchment paper next time!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      HO HO HO indeed! Great recovery, Kathy — I’m sure it was absolutely delicious. 🙂 PJH

  118. Anne hunter

    I really appreciate this article. It’s comfortable to know your not the only one making mistakes

    Reply
  119. JP Garrison

    Enjoyed all your stories. Here’s one on my sweet, late Mama. One day I came home from church to a smoky house and a dejected Mama. Her eyesight was failing, but she gamely attempted her no-fail pound cake. She never took herself too seriously, and chuckled about her mistake. Instead of plain flour, she’d grabbed the look-alike container of self-rising cornmeal mix! It didn’t just rise, it zoomed over the pan’s rim onto the floor of the oven. I sampled the unburnt cake and found it was actually pretty good, much like “yankee” cornbread muffins!

    Reply
  120. G.G.

    My husband and I had only been married a very short time when I decided to bake him a yellow cake with mocha icing. Let me state that I knew NOTHING about
    cooking or baking anything. But, hey, all you had to do was read the instructions very carefully, right? I baked the yellow cake and it looked o.k. I then prepared the mocha icing and carefully put it on the cake. I thought it looked a little strange, but I had read the instructions so what could go wrong. That night I presented my cake to my new husband and he took it with slightly raised eyebrows, took a bite and slowly chewed. He looked at me and said, “honey, when the instructions said add coffee, they meant the liquid kind, not grounds”. Fifty-six years and many cakes later, I still think the instructions should have been more explicit.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      He’s right — the devil’s in the recipe details for sure… That must have been some super-crunchy icing! PJH

  121. Lynn Hellers

    I posted a comment yesterday. Had to come back today to read additional stories. It’s amazing we all make such similar mistakes and, somehow, put a bright smile on our faces! Bravo to us! Never let a boo boo stop us from doing what we love. Thank you KAF for fabulous ideas and the wonderful products to carry them to fruition.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      That’s the spirit, Lynn — you really do feel better when you LOL rather than storm around the kitchen, right? 🙂 PJH

  122. Sherri Oake

    When my daughter was 10 or 11 she wanted to make a cake all by herself. I gave her the recipe for wacky cake which contains no eggs. When she had finished mixing the batter I told her she should taste it to make sure that it was okay. She told me it tasted really funny and not very good. We went over the recipe together and she had apparently confused the measurement for salt with the measurement for sugar. I told her to dump it and start all over again and I’d be in the other room if she needed help. The second time around her cake came out beautifully, no help from me, and she was very proud. A great lesson re: reading recipes in advance and very carefully. As an adult she’s turned out to be a great baker.

    Reply
  123. Linda Sepeda

    I’ve been laughing out loud, and the tears have finally cleared up enough for me to be able to write. I’ll skip the time I left out the sugar from the pumpkin pie, or used biscuit mix instead of flour in the cookies. This isn’t baking related, but more than forty years later, my now-grown son reminds me of it. We were very young, and I was still attending college, so my new blender that I’d gotten as a birthday gift was a real treat. I decided to make milkshakes, nice, thick milkshakes. The only drinking vessels I had that could hold the milkshakes were Tupperware iced tea glasses, which were tall and narrow. The shakes wouldn’t come out of the glasses! I tilted mine up higher and got a faceful of milkshake as the entire thing plopped out. My then four year old son was laughing so hard! After I wiped it off my glasses and face, I had to clean the kitchen floor.

    Reply
  124. Justin

    I tried making gluten free cookies peanut butter cookies by using rolled oats instead of flour. I ended up with a pan of chocolate chip peanut butter oat crisps. It was a pain to scrape off, but tasted great.

    Reply
  125. Becky McMahon

    My oven element failed (when I was pre-heating it to make the DELICIOUS KAF no-knead bread). We bought a replacement, and my clever husband installed it. He turned the oven on to make sure it worked, and heated right up. But in a few minutes, foul smoke was coming through the vent, and I could see flames through the window. We turned it off and waited until the next day (to avoid all that smoke setting off the alarm). That morning, he gathered his tools to assess the damage, but can’t find his flashlight. That nice, flat light, with lights on side and end, that has a magnet so you can stick it right to the side of the stove, between the rack grooves… Yep. He realized where he left it. Looked sort of like your thermometer, except it was black to begin with.

    Reply
  126. Marie

    My most recent mess up was on April fools day..I thought I was putting cinnamon in my devils bundt cake. When we tasted it , I quickly realized I got it mixed up with the paprika. I remade the bundt cake the next day correctly. I don’t think I will ever live it down. My family keeps bringing it up -_ – Lol

    Reply
  127. Heather Burt

    Years ago when I was living with my grandparents while going to school away from home, my grandpa and I decided to make a pumpkin pie. We used a flashlight inside that year’s Jack-o-lantern to keep it from being fouled with smoke and candle wax. We found a recipe in my great grandmothers handwritten cookbook and started to work. When our filling was ready, we turned to each other and asked “do you know how to make pastry?” With the answer a communal “no” we ran to the store and grabbed some frozen pie crusts and proceeded. Well, an hour or so later, we were salivating in front of the oven window while the aroma of homemade pumpkin pie filled the air. But alas, as I reached into the oven to take out the first pie, my brain temporarily turned off. The only pies I had ever taken out of an oven were those made by my mom who used glass Corning ware pie plates. Guess what?…instant frozen pie crusts don’t come on corningware glass pans! We ended up with pumpkin soup all over the inside of the oven as the filling never set, and the tinfoil pan collapsed like a house of cards! We still laugh about my first pie!

    Reply
  128. Meri

    Years ago a dear friend (NOT a baker to this day) wondered “how do they get those little papers around the cupcakes?” Glad she didn’t try!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Oh, the $$! That was killer for sure. And SOOOOOO dumb! But isn’t that the truth with all of our mistakes, right? Sigh… 🙂 PJH

  129. Edie Seigel

    Well, mine is not a baking mistake- but a miss-steak all the same! The night before I took out a frozen steak from the freezer to defrost before grilling. The next evening
    when my potatoes were almost done I went to take out the steak to come to room temperature before putting it on the grill. Imagine my dismay to find that what I had taken out of the freezer were sour cherries put aside for a pie! Dinner was frozen hamburger patties 🙁

    Reply
  130. Margy

    I had run out of boiled cider, but had regular apple cider, so figured that I could boil it down for the small amount I needed for a recipe. How hard could it be? This was in August, so all of the kitchen windows and door were open. The boil-down went fine, and the aroma was delicious. Then I noticed the bees…they had apparently been attracted to my house from the beekeeper’s hives half a mile away, and were swarming all over my back porch screen door and windows. I had to sneak out of my house through the front door, which we almost never used.

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  131. AISHWARYA PATRA

    I can relate to the situation when the sourdough starter was forgotten in the oven and oven was set to pre-heat. I had this incident when I had kept my sourdough starter in a plastic container inside the oven and I set to pre-heat the oven to 350F to bake a loaf bread. I realized this when I started seeing smokes coming out from oven. On opening the oven all was left was a molten plastic with semi-burnt starter. Plastic all over the oven floor. It took me another 2 hours to let the oven cool and clean up the plastic mess. Lesson learnt-Always check the oven before turning it on.

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  132. Lisa D.

    My husband was in the Navy and we were sent to Japan to live for three years. Housing on Base was scarce, so for the first year we lived out ‘in town’, in a Japanese house… complete with Japanese appliances. When we were shown the house, I asked whether the oven temperatures were in Farenheit or Celsius and the Japanese realtor told me that it was indeed, Farenheit. As had become our tradition, soon after moving in, I made a roast. Do you know how long it takes a three pound roast to cook at 350 degrees Celsius? Twenty minutes, and it was medium well ALL THE WAY THROUGH!

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    1. Anchors Away

      Such a wonderful post!! We too were a young Navy couple in Japan….. Cooking in the “kitchen” was a very difficult experience…We were living “in town” and the kitchen, as it was, had an oven under the one eye. I quickly learned not to cook on top of the stove and in the oven at the same time. Several “overcooked meals” turned into heading down the street and finding an open place to eat. Luckily…. there were always several small “hole in the wall” stalls and the food was great…. Thanks for the memories…..

  133. Carla Fisher

    My worst-ever kitchen disaster was when I was taking a thermodynamics class (learning all about how gases expand and create pressure). I had come home with a killer headache and decided that a batch of pancakes with warm maple syrup would make me feel better (mistake #1). I put the quart bottle of maple syrup in a pan of water to heat on the stove while I was mixing the batter, but somehow forgot to remove the cap (mistake #2). One of my roommates came in and commented that the pan with the syrup bottle had boiled dry. As she was adding boiling water to the pan (mistake #3), the bottle exploded from the pressure (remember the gas expanding class?) and there was a shower of glass and maple vapor for a radius of about 8 feet. We were lucky no one got hit by the glass. It took forever to clean the stove, the floor, the walls, and the ceiling, and when we finally got done (bless her for not fleeing the scene!) I went to lie down. But I soon discovered that I had to take a bath–the syrup had effectively moussed my hair and penetrated my clothes, leaving my skin sticky.

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    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Oh, Carla… and all of this as you were trying to calm a headache! It’s funny in retrospect, but at the time — wow, talk about painful! PJH

  134. Jim

    I decided to try something different one Christmas and forego my standard fruit cake recipe and develop my own recipe for a ‘Tropical’ fruit cake. I spent a fortune on dried fruit (apricots, pineapple, mango and papaya) and macadamia nuts. I chopped all the fruit and soaked it in rum for a couple of hours then made a “white’ batter using light syrup and fruit juice and a bit of cinnamon instead of the heavy molasses batter I made for my usual fruitcakes. The batter tasted wonderful! I put it in a slow oven to bake and set a timer to remind me to check it. Or, at least I thought I did! Later that evening we got back from dinner at a friends house and as soon as we walked in the house I could smell my cakes. Amazingly, after having spent eight hours in the oven, they weren’t burnt black but they were literally as hard as bricks. From that point on I decided to stick with tradition and went back to my usual recipe. That was over 30 years ago and my husband and I still laugh about it.

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  135. Elena

    One time I was making my favorite chia seed scones, but after I ate one when they cooled off, I realized I completely forgot to add the sugar.

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  136. Diane Perris

    I spent all day a few years ago following a recipe for “flourless chocolate cake” to serve for a dinner party where I was responsible for the dessert. I’m not sure what exactly I did wrong but it came out dry and hard as a brick. So I hacked it into slices, served it with coffee, and called it “biscotti”. Everyone raved about it and had a good laugh a while later when I fessed up.
    Remember, stressed is just “dessert” spelled backwards.

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