April foolishness.

WOW – I love it!

Um… what is it?

I have no idea.

Welcome to the fifth annual April Fool’s edition of Baking Banter, our King Arthur Flour blog.

You assume we’re experts, right? The ones who can whip up a stunning new recipe in a flash, pull pretty-as-a-picture treats out of the oven every single time, and never spill, drip, splash, drop, or create flour-bomb explosions?

Well, this post is here to disprove your assumptions.

Each year on this date we provide evidence that April Fools’ Day isn’t confined to April 1 – it’s a regular occurrence here in the King Arthur test kitchen.

And why are we so ready to admit this? Because, as always –

We make the mistakes so you don’t have to!

Guess this slick method of making split-top buttertop bread isn’t exactly a slam-dunk.

Some of our other loaves didn’t fare too well, either.

Nor did our biscuits.

Yes, the biscuit on the left really was baked. Same recipe, same time, same temperature as the one on the right.

But we used severely outdated baking powder in that white flop on the left.

“Oh, it’ll probably still work…”

Or not.

Picky, picky…

As I said, picky, picky… who’s been picking at this stuff?

We like to think of ourselves as strictly middle-of-the-road. Or cake, or pie, or bread.

Or muffins.

Or cupcakes.

There’s one in every crowd, isn’t there? Ah, perfection… even for our decorating maven MaryJane, it’s sometimes hard to attain!

Perfection is even harder when you goof up the ingredients.

Take that pie crust, upper left. Miscalculated percentages, and that’s what you get with too much butter, not enough flour.

The cookies, upper right? Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies without their xanthan gum.

The muffins, bottom left – double the amount of oil.

And the “scones,” bottom right? I did remember the first cup of flour – but forgot the second.

Speaking of forgetting…

Isn’t bread supposed to be “wrapped airtight” before putting it in the freezer?

I opened the door one day to find this poor naked thing sitting on the frosty shelf.

“Heavens,” I thought to myself, “This loaf might be a tad dry.”

Ya think?!

And then there are the battles we have with pans.

Bundt-type pans are notorious for creating those “hold your breath” moments when you hope-hope-HOPE that the birthday cake is going to come out perfectly intact. And it doesn’t, and there’s much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But round cake pans? Not so tough. Unless you’re Jeffrey Hamelman at the King Arthur Bakery trying a new chocolate cake recipe.

See, even the REAL pros endure flubs every now and then!

So, I did finally bake a decent loaf of buttertop bread. It was sitting on the cooling rack in the kitchen, and everyone was oohing and aahing over it.

“Can we cut a slice?”

“NO!” I said.

Actually, I kinda barked it. “Never ever ever ever EVER cut into a loaf of hot bread.” (The picture above was taken AFTER it had cooled.)

Ten minutes later – well, I didn’t catch anyone in the act, but the evidence was pretty plain:

That’s what you call cut and run.

And run…

You’ve all experienced these rather sticky moments, right?

Here we have a “break the dike” freeform rustic bumbleberry pie; upside down (inside out?) blueberry-cranberry muffins; and water-baked (and water-bathed) sticky puddings.

Yeah, life in the test kitchen can be kinda crum(b)y sometimes.

But you know what?

Stay cool. Chill out.

When life gets too messy…

Break out the chocolate.

Even fools rush in when chocolate’s on the table!

Happy April 1 – and happy baking from your foolish friends here at King Arthur Flour.

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. gpyrocat

    I am a long time follower of KAF and somehow I’ve missed this every year! I went back, read every year and was howling with laughter. Thank you so much, readers and pros alike, for sharing. I’ve had sourdough starter ooze onto the carpet of my car, bread dough run rampant and cookies burn to a cinder but my favorite disaster wasn’t actually mine. My brother was getting married in Mississippi, outdoors, in October. It wasn’t super hot, but too hot for the buttercream-frosted, three tier cake. The top tier wasn’t supported enough and began a slow slide off the edge. The caterer miraculously caught it and it looked OK, but the top of the next layer underneath was naked of frosting. Fortunately, they had loads of flowers. A fresh plate for the “1 year anniversary” layer, some fluffy blooms for the bare spots and it looked deliberate. The bride looked a bit startled when she saw it presented for the cake cutting, but no one else was the wiser!
    Thank goodness for quick hands! My mother always says “if nothing goes wrong at the wedding, you won’t have anything to remember”. Now go mark your calendar for next year! 😉 ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. jadeskiss83

    My goodness….this post just made my day! I’m over here laughing to myself about setting my two loaves of sourdough on fire. They just werent getting browned enough for my liking so I decided to turn the broiler on for just a quick second. Well, thoses loaves that I had started prepping three days before looked like two burning mountains in my poor oven! I can laugh about it now, but I sure wasn’t laughing that night!

    Reply
  3. milkwithknives

    HA! Oh, how I LOVE this post every year! My favorites this time are the yeast loaves up at the top. The super wide split-top, pumpernickel that reminds me of a computer mouse, cooled and hardened magma, bubbling cauldron of bread and the giant eyeball peeping out between its floury eyelids. Yep, done them all.

    I recently tried making my very first lard pie crust and ended up with flames on the bottom of my oven when the flipping thing disintegrated in the heat. Of COURSE my husband was sitting there witnessing the whole thing. (head shaking) Thanks, as always, for the reassurance.

    My husband does the head-shaking thing, too… HA, I should sit there and do the same thing when he’s working on his “handyman” projects! Plus, the only time in his life he baked something, he set the oven on fire – so there! Thanks for your feedback as always MWK – PJH

    Reply
  4. dgcbooth

    But it’s hard not to cut into warm bread! The butter melts perfectly on it 🙂

    Thanks for the bloopers!! Very well written and photographed and always a joy 🙂

    Thanks – we certainly enjoy laughing (again) at our mistakes… PJH

    Reply
  5. karrie

    Seeing all the “mess ups” made me think of this question as I recently made 6 loafs 2 different batches of brick breads. Why when you double a bread recipe you dont double the yeast? I did this and it didn’t rise on the second rise. Do you still double the sugar? But with all the sugar and only the orginal yeast to eat it doens’t the bread get sweeter? Please help.
    Well Karrie, the general rule of thumb for doubling a yeast bread recipe is to double all the ingredients EXCEPT the yeast and salt. Leave the yeast as is, and increase the salt only by half. 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast will raise 8 to 10 cups of flour. HOWEVER some recipes don’t take to doubling well, depending on the specific ratios of ingredients. A professional baker will tell you to figure out weights for all ingredients, then calculate the percentage of each ingredient compared to the amount of flour in the recipe. This is known as Baker’s Percentage (aka Baker’s Math) and is the only truly accurate way to increase a recipe in proportion. So, if this particular recipe is going to be part of your permanent collection, you may want to take the extra time to “do the math”. ~ MaryJane

    Reply

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