April Fools in the kitchen: our 9th annual salute to (un)success

Does the King Arthur Flour test kitchen conjure up visions of gleaming stainless steel counters, state-of-the-art ovens, and expert chefs in snowy white garb effortlessly creating the perfect chocolate chip cookie, apple pie, and sourdough loaf?

Well, let’s just say some of the above.

We do have one stainless steel counter; it’s usually covered with bags of flour, clipboards holding recipes, and a bunch of Cabot butter softening to room temperature.

State-of-the-art ovens? We prefer to bake in the type of ovens most of you have at home: slow to preheat, quirky about holding their temperature, and forever needing a new light bulb.

Expert chefs? Yes, actually – they even wear white sometimes. And joining our three trained chefs in the test kitchen are a crowd of seasoned, enthusiastic home bakers, with years and years and YEARS of baking experience (in aggregate).

Sometimes we do, in fact, create something approximating the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

And sometimes…

April Fools-2

…not so much.

If at first you don’t succeed in making your chocolate chip cookies spread –

April Fools-4

Try, try again. Practice makes perfect!

April Fools-3

It was a bigger challenge, but we’ve perfected the same technique with yeast rolls.

April Fools-5

The perfect apple pie, complete with golden pastry stars on top, is well within your reach. Just don’t brush the stars with egg wash, put them in a 450°F oven, and then check your Instagram feed.

Flameout!

April Fools-7

And burnout: Try putting cinnamon-streusel muffins into the oven, NOT setting the timer, and realizing about 3 hours later that the faintly acrid smell you detect wafting out of the kitchen isn’t, in fact, from some other fool’s burning cookies.

They’re YOUR totally incinerated muffins.

“My cup runneth over…” Yeah, usually that’s a good thing.

April Fools-9

But not when you’re baking chocolate pudding cake.

April Fools-10

Or a braided calzone.

So, why did I believe that I could fill this dough with cheddar, subject it to the heat of a 425°F oven, and NOT be confronted with a lava-flow of oozing cheese?

April Fools-12

But honestly, there was no reason for caramel to drain out of the bottom of this filled scone. I mean, it was enclosed in dough. It was solid caramel when it went into the oven.

Ten minutes later: puddle o’ sugar.

Sometimes, though, overflow can be a GOOD thing.

Like when you’ve been feeding your sourdough starter for days, and it’s been poking along, and you go to bed and get up the next morning and –

April Fools-13

SHAZAM! Now THAT’S what you call a fully activated starter.

That’s the thing with sourdough. You just have to stick to it.

April Fools-14

Unlike waffle irons, where sticking to it yields one very disappointing “crispy” waffle.

Speaking of sticking to it –

April Fools-15

DARN! Or words to that effect, probably words with a bit more “bite” to them, dripping with vitriol.

“Dripping”?

April Fools-16

Check out this pie crust.

Exactly what were we testing?

Well, I made the crust and added the apple filling, and then realized I’d forgotten one essential element in the crust, something that negated the test. But I didn’t want to waste the filling, so I took it out.

And then I didn’t want to waste the crust, so I blind-baked it, thinking maybe it could be filled with something afterwards.

April Fools-17

Or not. Notice the shrinkage down the sides of the pan. The only thing this crust is filled with is good intentions.

It was definitely for the birds – literally.

Not like these gluten-free brownies…

April Fools-6

…from which I, unfortunately, omitted the eggs. Even the birds wouldn’t eat these.

Oh, well; after a long day in the test kitchen, sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

April Fools-18

Or cookies crumble.

Happy April Fails, everyone!

Not ready to go back to work yet? See more April Fools posts.

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. Jose

    lol, nice post, thanks to this I came across with very interesting ideas like the braided calzone. I´m usually careful in the kitchen with times and stuff, but these things always happen sometimes, it all count as experience for the next times

    Reply
  2. Marti

    Actually clicked on the blog for an explanation of the first photo, which caught my attention. I wanted to know what the red pizza looking thing with the very grayish-blackened looking crust is. Or if that’s what it is. And what recipe that was.

    I semi-hoped it was an interesting take on pizza for Halloween. I would LOVE an answer back.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It’s a pizza recipe that got burned! It was a flop, sorry no recipe for this currently but the Halloween pizza is an intriguing idea! Kye@KAF

Post a comment

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