April fools in the kitchen: our rocky road to foolproof recipes

Welcome to the 11th annual edition of April Fools in the Kitchen — where your King Arthur Flour test kitchen bakers demonstrate, once again, our selfless dedication to progress through failure — in all its glorious culinary guises.

Even the pros in the King Arthur Flour test kitchen blunder, bumble, and fail. See the results here. Click To Tweet

Let’s jump right into yeast bread.

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

As someone did here. That towering balloon of rising dough was just itching to be slapped down. Who did it? DNA was inconclusive, but we think we might have some palm prints…

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Yeast does have a way of having its way — always. Even when seemingly confined in a lidded pain de mie pan.

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Sometimes it’s not the bread that acts out, it’s the filling — “out” being the key concept here.

Still, if anything is ever going to escape the gluten-y clutches of its intended home, let it be melted cheese. I think this loaf is laughing at me…

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

What goes up must come down…

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

And sometimes what goes up must stay up, and never mind what’s happening over there on the other side, right?

There’s going up — and then there’s staying down: WAY down.

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

This actually isn’t a failure at all: it’s my preferred method for disposing of the “discard” excess sourdough starter you end up with during the feeding process. This is several days’ worth of dried excess. My husband, Rick, thought it was the beginning of pizza; he was disabused of the notion when he snitched a taste.

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

And here’s a loaf that was destined for sourdough bread perfection — until it spent some time in an oven with an over-zealous top element. Talk about a burning question…

Q: What happens when you fill a Berry Blitz Torte with whipped cream and berries and walk away?

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

This happens. Dang, I KNEW I should have used pastry cream!

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

My fellow baker Susan Reid had one of those “walk away” moments with her cake as well. You just can’t trust these layer cakes — they’re real slippery characters!

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Filled bundt cake, test #1: chocolate cheesecake filling. More like chocolate cheesecake spilling.

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Filled bundt cake, test #2: vanilla cheesecake filling. MIGHT have been OK — had I remembered to put the baking powder in the cake. Talk about lowered expectations…

And then there was the time Aime and I got together to make a birthday cake for fellow digital team member Tracy, a pumpkin lover whose birthday falls on — you guessed it, Halloween.

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Clearly, neither Aime nor I possess the Martha Stewart gene. While the cake started out looking OK (and I confess to extending the reach of that word here), it quickly developed some gaping cracks.

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

We cut a few slices, and one side toppled, glacier-like, onto the plate.

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Still, did that stop anyone on the team from enjoying a pumpkin-face fudge birthday cake with peanut butter frosting?

Of course not! Nothing stands in the way of duty: sampling every cake to make sure it’s just as good as it can be. Taste-wise, at least.

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Can you guess what this is? No, I couldn’t either, until my fellow blogger, MaryJane, clued me in: homemade maraschino cherries left in the oven overnight. Shirley Temple, anyone?

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

How about this — any guesses? Sorry, can’t confirm one way or the other; no one would ‘fess up to having anything to do with… whatever this is!

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Does lower-protein flour + extra butter + forgetting the egg make EXTRA-tender pancakes? (They really did taste good, though.)

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Speaking of breakfast plates, how about this selection of banana bread one-offs? The best place for this tower of treats is probably the mess hall!

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Ah, banana bread; as our Recipe of the Year, you’ve been on my mind (and in my oven) a lot. Clearly, this version didn’t spend quite enough time in the oven. Still, it’s awfully goo(d)!

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Pumpkin pie, deconstructed.

This is what happens when you need a gorgeous picture of a perfect slice of pumpkin pie, and you didn’t cool the pie quite enough, so that perfect slice just ain’t happening.

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

And apple pie, reconstructed.

I could tell you what I was trying to achieve here, but clearly I fell far short of my goal. Unless you’ve interested in apple pie that looks eerily reminiscent of a spatchcocked chicken.

April Fools in the Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Finally, because there’s just nothing better than apple pie, enjoy a slice on us. Like many of our test kitchen experiments, this pie went slightly awry.

Still, beauty is only crust deep. And the true beauty of this pie is that it illustrates our King Arthur Flour test kitchen motto: We make mistakes so you don’t have to!

Happy April Fool’s baking, one and all! Don’t be shy; share your favorite baking disaster stories in comments, below.

Ready for some more chuckles? See a complete decade of our April Fool’s 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. Nancy Vogel

    Talking about baking disasters, I was making a Whole wheat bread and I wanted to give the yeast an early start before adding the salt ( which can retard growth). I added the sugar , yeast, some wheat flour, butter and water, mixed, covered and let stand for 30 minutes. When bubbly, I added the rest of the flour and let the dough rise. It rose beautifully, nice and light. I degassed it, shaped it and put it in a loaf pan. I let it rose until crowning the pan slightly,( and again, it rose beautifully). Baked the bread (smelled heavenly) When it was cool enough, I cut it( beautiful texture- NO TASTE. Oops!

    Reply
  2. Wendy

    This was really fun, thanks! All bakers understand that it can be a fine line between perfection and disaster! It’s actually comforting to know that the experts learn from their mistakes, too. There’s always a next time, and a new batch!

    Reply
  3. Teresa Brockett

    Just enjoyed reading all the fun comments from other baking bloopers. Although I’m a pastry chef now, (and still make my share of mistakes), my favorite one was made as a young girl, trying to impress a boy. I made him what looked to be a beautiful home made apple pie, except that I forgot the sugar! My dad teased me for years that I did it on purpose to get him to pucker up, lol! 😉

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Teresa, sounds like your dad had a good sense of humor, though at the time you probably didn’t see as much humor in the situation as he did! Think of it this way: at least it wasn’t rhubarb… 🙂 PJH@KAF

  4. Sherry Crane

    I could identify every example you showed and I created more of my own over the 52 years that I was married. My husband has passed , so now I’m more likely to see them at my daughter’s house, where she has an enthusiastic 16-year-old daughter who wants to try baking and crepe recipes, as well as Christmas goodies to share. We all are proud when our efforts turn out well and we laugh when they don’t. I was asked to provide a chocolate groom’s cake many years ago for our niece’s wedding. I wasn’t able to do it the day before, so the second layer was still too warm when I turned it out on top of the filling and the first layer. It started cracking and no amount of chocolate frosting could hold it together. We lived in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico, so I just told people at the wedding that it was my Famous Canyon Cake and it was eaten all up!

    Reply
  5. lucyg22

    When you bake a bundt cake, be sure the oven is set on BAKE–not BROIL. On my oven, this is an easy mistake to make. I was making the dessert for a “catered” dinner that someone had won in a raffle by the parents’ club at my sons’ school, so it had to look good. Everything went great until I started to smell something burning: it was the top of the cake. No time to start over! That dessert had to come from the bakery. Years later, I felt somewhat better when I read in one of James Beard’s cookbooks that he had done the same thing.

    Reply
  6. Käri

    When making Irish Soda bread the first time, a friend was helping me. When I asked for the 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of melted butter, his brain translated it to 4 oz. (1 stick) of melted butter. While this was an OOPS! It turnded out to be a wonderful 1. I have subsequently made it with the proper amount of butter but much much prefer Irish Soda bread with 4 oz. of butter. Think banana “bread” texture.😁

    Reply
  7. Susan

    That bread with the cheese filling oozing out would be great for Halloween – just add some “eyes” of some kind and you’ll have a monster!

    Reply
  8. Elaine

    I must say that I would refuse to acknowledge many of those as mistakes. It’s one thing if it is important that the item look impressive – a wedding cake, a formal dinner, guests you hope to impress. But for family or close friends, as long as it tastes good, you couldn’t get me to call it a failure for anything! Try it! It makes your life much less complicated.

    Reply

Post a comment

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