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Stupid baking/cooking mishaps? Share, laugh, and learn

  • c

The creation of this thread is prompted by my recent bout of silly baking. I hope for most people it'll provide a good laugh and something to be learned.

a) Making cinnamon rolls last night, I let them proof on a tray before baking, covered with a sheet of plastic wrap to prevent drying. It's 2 in the morning, tired, oven at 365, I place the tray into the oven. Twenty fragrant minutes later, I pull them out only to find a strange spider-web-like netting over the buns. Realization, I left the plastic wrap on when I put the buns in. I slice off the top, have a bit of the bottom... oh so good... so sad to see a dozen cinnamon buns go in the garbage.

b) 10 years old or so, trying to make a cake with fondant glaze. Misread directions, put 250 mL baking powder as opposed to 25. The cake collapsed in on itself and tasted like really bad biscuits. Not even glaze could save this one.

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  1. LOL you're cinnamon roll story reminded me of a long time ago, when I had just first started baking. I mis-read the directions and used tablespoons of salt instead of teaspoons when making cinnamon rolls. they were leaden and salty. had to throw away the whole batch. yeech...


    1 Reply
    1. re: withalonge

      This happened light years ago, but is still good for a laugh....

      I was making a batch of potato salad and a batch of strawberry daquaris for a party. Well you can guess what happened...during a momentary brain cramp, the pureed strawberries went into the potato bowl. We fished them out as best we could, but that night's potato salad tasted great but had a bit of a pink cast to it. After a few daquaris from the second batch of strawberries, no one cared!

    2. I forgot the baking powder when making a cake once. I have since learned to assemble all of the ingredients in one place and put them away as I use them. Also not to try to bake when there are distractions.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        my mom forgot leavening in the cornbread once... it's a family favorite now. I'll bet sometime, somewhere, someone forgot the flour in their chocolate cake... and they could've been rich!

        1. re: Candy

          I've forgotten the baking powder many MANY times... I was infamous for making accidental 'rock cakes'. They're usually edible while they're hot out of the oven, but concrete once they cool down. After one incident too many, I switched to self-raising flour!

        2. Oh, the things I have done. I was particulary talented in this arena as a child:

          I left the last tray of whoopie pies in the oven overnight. With the oven on. In the morning, there were a half-dozen little charcoal briquettes on the cookie sheet. I can't imagine why the house didn't fill with smoke.

          I tried to make a baked Alaska on a 100 degree day. The ice cream was melting too fast to get the meringue on properly. What I ending up serving was a glop of chocolate cake, melted ice cream, and half-browned meringue that my family dubbed "Baked Disastah." (We've got New England accents).

          My best college friend and I, who were both going through a vegetarian stage, decided to make wheat gluten balls from some vegetarian cookbook. The process was several days long and involved washing and kneading a ball of dough in water, then ultimately forming balls from the dough and cooking them in curry sauce. I have no idea if it was the recipe or something we did, but those things looked like snot and could bounce as high as a superball. You know the balls of rubber band some people keep on their desks? Like that. In curry sauce.

          I didn't do it, but the worst-tasting error I've ever encountered was a peach coobler made at a bakery with one pound, rather than one ounce, of powdered ginger. The teenaged boys who worked there in the afternoons spent the day challenging each other to eat it.

          Link: http://seasonalcook.blogspot.com

          6 Replies
          1. re: curiousbaker

            this made me laugh, thanks!

            1. re: curiousbaker

              Too funny!!! Re: the gluten balls.... I'm taking a foods class in college and one of our assignments was to make gluten balls a few weeks ago... Each group used a different type of flour. You are so right !!! It was like a ball of snot that could bounce as high as a superball. You didn't do it wrong!!!! We baked them and compared the outcomes with the different flours. It was actually a pretty cool thing except for the hours of rinsing and kneading.

              1. re: wendy8869

                Okay, then who eats these things? What could possibly make them appealing?

                Link: http://seasonalcook.blogspot.com

                1. re: curiousbaker

                  I've had wheat gluten (aka seitan) before, but never snotlike or bouncy - maybe it's the shape? I've only ever seen in in cutlets...

                  1. re: piccola

                    it's way easier just to buy a box of "vital wheat gluten" and mix it with some water to make the seitan/wheat gluten.
                    Also, the texture is very rubbery/snot-like when you first make it. You have to boil the snot-balls in broth for about an hour--then they become soft-ish, chewy, meaty balls of tastiness. They take on the flavor of whatever you cook them in, so the more tasty veggies in the broth, the better.
                    if you cut it into strips after boiling, then throw them in a wok, seitan makes a pretty good stir-fry.

              2. re: curiousbaker

                hilarious post! thanks for sharing.

              3. Cooking, not baking: a friend gave me her late mother's 1940s edition of The Settlement Cookbook. Tucked into the pages was a handwritten recipe for her fabulous tomato aspic. I assembled all the ingredients as soon as I could and prepared it in a somewhat shallow shell-shaped mold (say that five times fast!) as the starter for a dinner party. All I talked about while we had our first glass of wine was this wonderful aspic and how excited I was to be able to serve it. As everyone watched, I pulled the molded aspic out of the fridge and ran a bit of hot water in the sink to aid in unmolding it. Imagine my horror as I swirled the mold gently in the hot water and the beautiful aspic slipped out of the shell and into the hot water.

                That was probably ten years ago. To this day, I haven't repeated the experiment, but the recipe is still tucked between the pages of my cookbook. Someday...

                1. a
                  A Fish Called Wanda

                  Now, this is really embarrassing...

                  I am much more of a cook than a baker, so I am measuringly challenged. Learning to cook from my mom didn't help. She is amazing, but I've never seen her use a measuring cup.

                  After 6 years, I almost gave up on baking since everything I baked came out dry. One day, I asked my husband (the best bread baker I know) to superwise my making of brioche dough for pirozhki. When he saw me fill a cup with flour and smooth out the top with the side of the bag, he was appalled. I thought I was "scooping and leveling", but apparently smoothing out the top with the side of the bag packs about 25% more flour into it. My husband made me measure it with the scale and see the difference.

                  I tried to make pie dough the other week measuring flour correctly and it was absolutely wonderful -- buttery, flaky, and delicate.

                  So I guess it took me 6 years to learn to measure flour, but there is hope :)

                  Link: http://www.beyondsalmon.com

                  1. I am not the most attentive cook. Things I've caught on fire:
                    hash browns (oil spill)
                    lasagna (too close to broiler)
                    Toast (broken toaster...with flames!)

                    Strangely enough, though, since I've moved to an apartment with a gas oven, I've ceased to be as much of a fire hazard.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Cassie

                      In the late 1970s, I lived in a really funky apartment in NYC's East Village. The stove had 2 temperatures: On and Off. My roommate often cooked a dish we called "Chicken Flambe." He would take a piece of chicken, cover it with hot mustard and soy sauce from the little packages you get from Chinese restaurants, and put it in the oven. When it caught on fire, he knew it was ready, and would take it out of the oven, blow it out, and eat it.

                      The moral of this story being that it's not always a bad thing to have your food catch on fire.

                      1. re: Joy

                        I think that's even better than the old saw about stuffing a chicken with stuffing that you've mixed with a handful of unpopped popcorn... roast in a 350 degree oven, and in about an hour when the chicken explodes, the fragments will be tender and juicy

                        1. re: Joy

                          This made me laugh out loud right at my desk!

                      2. You know how when you stuff a turkey you lace up the openings with skewers and kitchen twine? A family member (my stepmother's mom, ahem) used skewers and rubber bands.

                        1. m
                          Marion Morgenthal

                          Mine was last Thanksgiving, making a recipe that had been posted right here on CH. Misreading "1 can chipotle peppers" instead of "1 canned chipotle pepper" created a dish only one person was brave enough to try--and he gave up very fast!

                          1. Many years ago, seventeen years old, living at home in one of those canyons outside of LA that burns up every year, first foray into the kitchen alone ....... decide to make a BLT figuring anyone can do that.

                            1 stick of butter into a hot black iron skillet on high heat (I'm thinking that butter makes everything taste good), handful of bacon into the pan and I walked out of the room after turning on the fan (all the better to suck the flames up onto the wood shingle roof) .......

                            I met a lot of really nice firemen that afternoon! My parents shipped me off to Paris for a year and real cooking began in ernest.

                            However, as a new bride, I baked a lattice-topped cherry pie forgetting to pit the cherries. It was like eating gravel.

                            Things are much improved now but when I flop, I flop Big Time!

                            1. My dear husband, in LBJ (life before Jo), made an apple pie for a dinner party. Never made pastry before... and decided to treat it like cookie dough. So... the more kneading, the better, right? After dessert, there were 6 plates with 6 empty pie crusts... the tops supporting themselves without any filling. Everyone ate the filling and left the crust untouched. Mostly because they couldn't cut the darn thing with their forks...

                              1. I think 97% of what I've learned about cooking is how to paint myself back out of corners I've painted myself into, so it's been so long since my last unfixable disaster I can remember only one, my first blackberry cobbler: six or seven of us spent a very sweaty, scratchy and chigger-ridden afternoon picking about a gallon of berries, and I (working entirely from second-hand memory) filled our largest baking dish with berries, sugar, and...oh, I guess ENOUGH water...and what came to the table was a big dish of blackberry soup with a giant biscuit crouton floating on top. At least the damn thing DID float...!

                                Non-fatal mishaps from sheer stupidity? Take my casserole out of my brother's very hot coal-fired oven, set it on the table, take off the oven mitts and THEN remove the lid. Smells of burning flesh, sudden burst of improper language...

                                1. My first unsupervised baking experiences: my cousin and I decided to make brownies (we were probably 8 and 10). My mother bought lots of her baking supplies at a bulk health food store, so they were often in unmarked plastic bags. We added our 3/4 cup of cocoa to the batter, and watched as the mixer struggled to churn through it. It was so sticky we ended up using our hands to smear it into a pan. And all over ourselves, of course. After baking, it was a leaden brick, and very odd tasting.

                                  And that's what happens when you mistake cinnamon for cocoa. How I could have mistaken the smell, I don't know. I certainly learned to double-check with my nose.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Jess

                                    OMG, that's funny!

                                  2. As a teenager, I inverted the amounts for baking soda and baking powder in choc chip cookies. The made for some eh cookies, and some ok dough (if a bit salty).

                                    Gotta remember to more closely look at ingredient list...


                                    1. Two biggies a few years ago:

                                      I made Cook's Illustrated's lemon tart for a colleague's going away office party. But, having never made pastry before, felt sure that THOROUGHLY MIXING the dough was of utmost importance. They couldn't even get a chef's knife to cut slices of that baby. (But the lemon curd turned out well. We scraped it out with a spoon and at it that way.)

                                      I tried to make foofoo (pounded yams) once as a surprise for my African friend. So I baked sweet potatoes and then pounded and pounded and pounded (in a sauce pan because I didn't have a mortar and pestle), but it just wouldn't change textures. Since you're looking for something more dough-like, and since the hour of his arrival was getting closer and closer, I frantically started throwing in flour. I must have gotten up to a cup before I took a taste. Ew. Just exactly like paste. We ordered a pizza.

                                      1. An eccentric friend, during one of his "healthy" periods, made a Thanksgiving turkey stuffed (crammed is more like it) with bran muffins. It took two people holding the bird and two people prying with a big serving spoon to retrieve some of the stuffing. That thing seized up like it was no one's business. On top of that, the bird came out whiter than it went into the oven. It was a depressingly bad holiday, from an epicurian standpoint.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: ort

                                          Ahhh ha ha ha ha ha! A turkey constipated with bran muffins, how frightful for you!

                                          1. re: Jess

                                            Tooooooo funny. In my early 20's, as a struggling newspaper cub reporter, I invited a few other unattached friends to my wee abode for Thanksgiving Day dinner. I had never cooked a turkey before but geeeee, how hard could it be? Imagine my surprise when I cut into the beautifully browned bird through a paper-wrapped package of gibblets!! Oh horrors. No one told me a turkey has TWO holes.

                                        2. I once made cornbread that tasted awful. I lived with several roommates then, one of whom would eat anything. I warned him that it wasn't very good, but he ate it and said it tasted fine. Another roommate came home, took a bite, and said "I think you dropped soap powder in the batter." I finally realized that I had misread the recipe and added however many TABLESPOONS of baking powder instead of teaspoons. Oops.

                                          1. l
                                            La Dolce Vita

                                            I've done so many silly things in the kitchen, I can't even count. Here are a few good stories.

                                            After I discovered papadums at an Indian restaurant, I went to the store and bought a package. You're supposed to fry them in oil to get them to puff and crisp. I decided to take a more low-fat approach. Don't ask what the logic was behind that bright idea---they're already full of oil. So I popped them in the toaster oven. They were browning nicely, then foof! They were flaming disks. I quickly unplugged the whole toaster oven and brought it outside to extinguish the flames. From that day forward, my husband would not let me cook papadums in the house.

                                            One Thanksgiving, my husband and I were laid low with chicken pox, so it was just the two of us. I decided to cook the turkey the way I saw my aunt do it: Cover it for the first hour or two, then uncover to let it brown and finish cooking. My aunt is a fantastic cook. She's been cooking turkey longer than I've been alive. My husband warned me not to try to copy her techinque because he was sure I was missing some crucial step. I laughed at him and proceeded anyway. I poured several cups of water into the bottom of the pan to make a lot of drippings. Dinner that night consisted of nice side dishes, but one anemic, dried-out steamed turkey.

                                            I had seen a picture in a cookbook at the bookstore, but I didn't bother to buy the book. It showed chicken coated with this nice reddish spice crust. "Oh, I can do that!" I assured my husband. So I proceeded to coat the chicken. By the time the chicken went into the oven, there was about a half-cup of cayenne pepper on it, plus assorted other spices. Later, at dinner, we laughed at each other as we tried to eat it, because our faces turned beet-red from all the cayenne, and we were gulping water by the glassful. We only managed about two or three bites each, and then we gave up and re-heated some leftovers.

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: La Dolce Vita

                                              The trick for lowfat papadums is to cook them in the microwave for 30 seconds or less. They crisp up perfectly. (It's actually written on the package of the brand I buy.)

                                              1. re: piccola
                                                La Dolce Vita

                                                Oh, thank you! I am going to try that--it sounds much easier than frying them!

                                                1. re: La Dolce Vita

                                                  No prob.

                                                  Here's a paraphrase of what it says on the package: lay one papadum flat in the microwave and cover with a clean paper towel; microwave on high for 30 seconds or until it expands (keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn - all microwaves are different re: power).

                                                  You may need to turn it halfway.


                                                  1. re: piccola
                                                    janet of reno

                                                    the other advantage to doing the papadums in the microwave is that you get less of that obnoxious smell in the house. I like papadums, sometimes, but the smell of them cooking makes me nauseaus. I think its the hing (asoetifida) in them. If you aren't bothered by the smell, another alternative cooking mechanism (If you have a gas stove) is to place them right on the burner of the gas stove and cook them right over the flame. But if you do that, you'd really better watch them closely or you really could start a fire!!! (And while we're on the subject, could some English expert please explain why the word is spelled papadum when it is more or less pronounced "papard" (at least by everyone in my family....could this be a Gujarti variation of the Hindi word?)

                                                    1. re: janet of reno
                                                      La Dolce Vita

                                                      If I ever tried papadums on an open burner, I'd be in big trouble, given my record with the toaster oven!

                                                      I was not able to find "papadum" in any of my dictionaries, so I'll have to defer to somebody who knows the answer to your question.

                                                      1. re: janet of reno

                                                        i have no idea where 'papadum' derives from - it sounds faintly tamilian. its pronounced 'papad' (pa as in pa and pud to rhyme with cud) from maharastra northwards.

                                                        my suspicion is that 'papadum' is the introduction of bangla deshis to 'indian' menus. certainly all curry houses here in the uk boast of papadum on the menu. a pox on them.

                                                    2. re: La Dolce Vita

                                                      If it's summertime and you have the bbq fired up, try laying them flat on the grill - 15-20 seconds per side till they puff up. Serve with a few chutneys.

                                                      Beats the heck out of tortilla chips and watery salsa.

                                                      1. re: Larry
                                                        janet of reno

                                                        Yes, I've tried the grill thing too....and the nice thing about that is that when we do this my husband can have his pappadums and I don't have to put up with the smell in my house!!!

                                                    3. re: piccola

                                                      I've had oh-so-many toaster oven papadum mishaps too! BUt yet somehow I persist... :)
                                                      I find that the trick is to dampen them slightly-- it's the moisture that helps convey the heat to them, either in the toaster oven or the microwave. (This might not be an issue in places with higher turnover, but in Boston, anything you buy may have been sitting on the shelf for years.) Either way, you gotta watch like a hawk!!! I'm not good at watching like a hawk.

                                                  2. As grad students, my roommates and I decided to make crepes for dinner. We didn't have a crepe pan, but we were sure that wouldn't matter. Big bowl of batter, tried one frying pan and then another, including a cast iron pan, couldn't get the crepes out of the pan, finally someone had the brilliant idea of cooking the crepe on the outside bottom of an upside-down pan. Crepe batter in all stages of cooked/uncooked from one end of the kitchen to the other, finally ordered a pizza.

                                                    Trying to feed my family more fish (good for you, right), saw an Asian woman (Vietnamese?) at the market buying up a bunch of very inexpensive fish, she seemed quite excited about it. Tried to ask her how she was going to cook it, but we had no language in common. No problem, bought the fish, took it home and either broiled or baked it. Yucck!! Slimey yet rubbery, my kids dubbed it. Oh my god, probably the worst thing I have ever cooked, totally stunningly inedible. Kids are convinced the woman was planning to use the fish to fertilize her garden. Honestly, the cat wouldn't even eat it.

                                                    BTW, thanks for starting this thread, I've had a great time reading it!

                                                    1. Sugar syrup and I have a long, spotty history. I remember trying to make my first Italian meringue to top a lemon meringue pie. I carefully, closely watched the syrup, and at some point, realized that it was beginning to caramelize and was thus too far gone. Knowing that I needed to empty my pan and start over quickly, I went to dump the hot syrup into the sink. The thought process from there went something like this: "Oh no! Hot syrup in the sink will be bad! I should run some cold water. Oh, right. Cold water turns hot sugar syrup into candy!" Lovely solid sugar wave sculpture rising out of the pan, though.

                                                      I also went through a period where everyone I worked with raved about what a great stress reliever baking bread was. My husband, whose mother is a fantastic baker, learned to bake from her and agreed. I decided to check it out, and went to work on a basic white bread recipe. After about 20 minutes of "kneading," at which point my dough still resembled a wad of scratchy dishcloths, my annoyed mutterings brought my husband into the kitchen. He asked me to show him what I'd been doing -- I showed him my gentle prodding and rolling. Once he stopped laughing, he beat the dough into elastic submission. He loves this story way too much.

                                                      Great thread!


                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Xochitl10

                                                        That sugar syrup thing sounds all too familiar. Only when I did it I dumped it in the toilet because the sink was in use. Instant clog. Fortunately sugar dissolves pretty quickly in water.

                                                      2. The worst meal I ever made was a pizza I cooked for my then boyfriend now husband and his business partner. The business partner was watching his cholestoral intake due to recent heart trouble, but being a newbie vegetarian, all the recipes I knew how to make were loaded with cheese. I decided to make a grilled squash pizza with a small amount of fresh mozarella. The electric grill my roommates and I shared never got hot enough to actually cook the squash. Finally after over an hour, I decided to put it on the pizza anyway and have it finish cooking in the oven. I don't know why I never checked the pizza for doneness - probably because it was so late at this point. As I sliced up the pizza and started to serve it, I thought for a moment that I had put WAY too much cheese on it - it was oozing off the spatula and was kind of hard to cut through. Turns out it was the DOUGH - undeniable totally raw. Would you believe those two insisted on eating it anyway? The hard raw squash imprinted with stale grease marks resting atop raw coils of pizza dough. Ugh, I still shudder thinking about that night. Oh well, at least he married me anyway...

                                                        1. I made a pineapple up-side-down cake, using some flour left-over from the bag. As it cooked, the air in the kitchen filled with a savory garlicy onion scent. The first bite of cake was when I then realized that it was not something burning from a spill-over in my oven, bu that I had used the seasoned fried-chicken flour instead of plain. YUCK!

                                                          1. I always love these stories. Mine happened recently at the restaurant where I wait tables. I'm pretty good friends with the cooks, so on occasion if they're busy with something they'll let me help out a little bit. One that I did was plating a slice of cheesecake. The plate gets artistically drizzled with raspberry and apricot sauces, and creme anglaise. Everything was going great until I noticed the creme anglaise looked a little different than usual... I didn't remember it having vanilla bean specks before. I took a little taste of the sauce. It took my palate a few seconds to register that I decorated the plate with Caesar dressing!

                                                            When I see the kitchen disasters thread come up, I always have to bring up this ancient CH post about someone who tried to make their own peach liqueur but forgot one of the byproducts of fermentation. I still laugh so hard I almost fall out of my chair when I read it.


                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                                              I made a custard pie once and forgot to add the sugar to it. The pie had been in the oven about 20 minutes so I tried to add it to the pie-trying to mix it in without spilling all over the oven... sad to say when finished it was more like quiche on the top and pure sugar flavored crusts... now when I make custard the sugar is the 1st ingredient I measure out...

                                                              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                                                Thanks Jester for that old thread. I too was laughing both at the original story and then at the dog and skunk follow-up.

                                                              2. When my now-husband and I first started dating, in college, I mentioned that one of my childhood comfort foods is tuna noodle casserole (that my mom made on those nights when Dad was working late - he would never touch the stuff).

                                                                So he decided to make it for me as a surprise for our "one month anniversary" - using a recipe from Joy of Cooking. Well of course this recipe was completely different from the canned goop my mom used. It called for green peppers (which I despise), a boat load of Kraft parmesan cheese, etc. It was so disgusting. And overcooked - so it was hard as a rock. We ended up throwing the whole thing away, pot and all! We drank our dinner instead (we were college students after all).

                                                                Now he leaves the cooking to me. But I still tell the story as an example of his fine culinary skills.

                                                                1. Don't know if this is a cooking or baking mishap, but--

                                                                  For my 24th birthday, my boyfriend made me a cake. He had always been a fine baker, but the oven in our new apartment had other ideas about cakes. The cake was a very sad two-layer chocolate cake with an *enormous* crater in the middle (which he didn't try to fill in with frosting) and candles all around the outside. He somewhat sheepisly and apologetically presented me with this ugly duckling of a cake and we of course shared a good laugh about it.

                                                                  Well, I loved that cake. I loved it so much that rather than eating it, I kept it. In fact, I kept it for six years. The cake dried out and the candlesl bent over (I kept the cake on top of the refigerator and the heat the 'frig generated warped them) and the plate underneath broke in half during a move (but the cake itself was miraculously unharmed), but I stil kept the cake until it had gathered enough dust that it was barely recognizable as a cake.

                                                                  I love me some baking mishaps!

                                                                  1. My aunt and uncle once decided to deep-fry their Thanksgiving turkey. So they filled the pot nice and full of oil and set it on to heat. When they went to put the turkey in, they realized that they had forgotten to leave room for the bird when they released a flood of hot oil everywhere.

                                                                    Luckily, they're gadget believers, so they had bought the specialized turkey deep-frying rig and set it up in the garage. I can't imagine the damage that would have caused to a kitchen.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: lora

                                                                      ooh, hot oil spill. the very unfunny story of the new kitchen mgr who took her job very seriously. she was going to do everyone a favor one evening after work (after almost all staff had gone home) and drain the deep-fryers. so she empties the first deep fryer into a 5-gallon, plastic, bucket. yes, oil is still hot and yes, she's a genius, she attempts to pick up the bucket. the handle comes off in her hand, but not cleanly enough for her to prevent the 300 degree oil from spilling on the floor all around her. instead of calling for help, she's either panicked or else thinking she's got to get this cleaned up before anyone realizes she's incompetent: so she takes one step-- slips in the hot oil and goes down. on her back. in the hot oil. 1st degree oil burns from the heels of her feet to the top of her scalp.

                                                                      1. re: lora


                                                                        The only place to deep-fry a turkey is outside on a concrete driveway. If the oil catches fire, anything combustible above or below is done for.

                                                                      2. My mishap in the kitchen happened just a little bit ago.
                                                                        My SO surprised me with a new wok over the weekend. I was super excited and anxious to use it, but there is a seasoning process you have to go through first. I decided I would start the process this afternoon so I coated it w/2 tbsp of oil as instructed put it over heat and began swirling it around. You're supposed to do this for ten minutes, but I am not quite that patient. I decided to multitask and left the wok over the burner while I went into the living room to do a quick set of crunches. Of all times to get involved and motivated in your work out, this was not the best one. I was going to town and being all self-congratulatory as I exceeded my normal rep. and set counts. After about 15 minutes I contentedly relaxed back on the floor to catch my breath when the smoke detectors started screaming. I had one of those moments where you realize you made a mistake, slap yourself in the forehead in the manner of Homer Simpson, and bounded back into the kitchen. Needles to say the oil had burned and was popping and sputtering as I pulled it off the stove and threw it in the sink. As i sit here and type my house is full of smoke and I have had to open all the doors and windows in an attempt to make my environment inhabitable. I am just hoping the smoke has dissipated before the SO gets home so I don't have to repeat the story to him.
                                                                        On a bright note, I don't think I ruined the wok and I only have to repeat the seasoning process two more time. =)

                                                                        1. Word to the wise: If you ever have a springform pan leak butter onto the bottom of your oven, wipe up the pooled butter before flipping the oven to self-clean. The butter will ignite at high temperatures.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Megiac

                                                                            and always bake with your springform on top of a rimmed baking sheet!

                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                              I once used one of those "air-cushioned" baking sheets under a caramel tart. Half way through the bake time I smelled something funny. Opened the oven and discovered that the pan had experienced some sort of structural failure and had puffed up into a pillow shape. The tart was clinging valiently to the side, spilling caramel onto the oven floor.

                                                                              1. re: Pistou

                                                                                weird! & scary-- don't have any air-cushioned sheets but good to know!

                                                                              2. re: Megiac

                                                                                Not a springform pan but that reminds me of a disaster I had shortly after I got married... DH bought me a delicious blueberry slice/tart thing from the bakery and I decided to replicate it at home. Not having a lot of kitchen equipment to my name, I mixed up a regular cake batter in a bowl and poured it into the only round shallow dish we posessed - a pyrex pie dish. Then I spread blueberries on top and put crumb topping on top of them and slid it in the oven to bake. Only one problem - the cake mix expanded (as cakes do) and poured over the sides of the pie dish enmasse, ending up on the bottom of the oven. I realised something was going dreadfully wrong when I started to smell scorching cake smell and it was only halfway through the cooking time.
                                                                                There wasn't a lot I could do about it except soldier on and pray... but in the end it wasn't a dead loss - what was left of the blueberry cake thing came out delicious, but the oven stunk of charred cake for a month.

                                                                              3. Because I have a tendency to cook by just "winging it", I run into a lot of issues. However, there are a few that were memorable.

                                                                                1. The very first time my mom designated me to bake cookies, I misread the back of the package of chips. Instead of 2 3/4 cups of flour, I added 3/4 cups...twice. I thought it meant two 3/4 cups of flour. Duh. So, the dough was basically missing a whole cup of flour. It was a bit...eggy...until my dad pointed out my error. Mixing in 1 1/4 cups of flour AFTER you've added the chocolate chips is not an enjoyable process.

                                                                                2. This past Thansgiving, I made pumpkin pie for Mr B's family. This was the first time I was meeting them, and I had been baking this pie for at least 20 years. So, I was pretty confident that I'd impress them with my skills. Ten minutes after putting the pies into the oven, I realized I had forgotten the salt. So, here I am, sprinkling a half teaspoon of salt over both pies, then trying to mix it in to the half-cooked pumpkin mixture. Everyone raved about them, but all I could taste was salt, salt, salt.

                                                                                3. I have a tendency to burn bread in the oven. Not just burn it, but start fires. My mom says it's genetic, because my father does the exact same thing. I can't tell you how many times I've ruined bread, crostini, etc.

                                                                                4. I had an issue with meatballs for years because I simply refused to follow a recipe. After years of eating baseball-sized-and-textured meatballs, mom finally rescued me with a decent recipe. I still don't know what my problem was but darn, those things were hard as rocks every time I made them.

                                                                                This is fun!

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: QueenB

                                                                                  One Thanksgiving, I was cooking at my mom's house. I've said this before, but I never know where anything is in her kitchen, and always have to search. To make matters worse, I was just getting over the flu. While making the gravy, I wondered why the flour had a different, slightly gummy consistency. I shrugged my shoulders and continued cooking, adding more. When we sat down to eat, the gravy had a sweet flavor that no one could figure out.
                                                                                  Long story short -
                                                                                  - I had made the gravy with powdered sugar!

                                                                                  1. re: aurora50

                                                                                    Heh, heh... my husband's best friend's wife (whom we don't like much) made them french toast sprinkled with flour! He said the syrup and flour made quite a nice paste!

                                                                                2. worked with a bartender who prepped the bloody mary salt before a busy weekend 2 fer one shift. . . oops she grabbed the nutmeg we used in the toddies. . . and nobody complained for the 1st hour and a half!!!

                                                                                  guy (not a cook) trying to help his wife prepare thanksgiving dinner, all she asked him to do was "make the dinner rolls from my grandma's recipe, follow the directions as written EXACTLY." he figured that if you were supposed to add the yeast to lukewarm water, he could speed up the recipe time considerably by using BOILING water. . .

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                    My mom ate at a restaurant the other night, and the lady she was with ordered a strawberry daquiri- they couldn't figure out why it tasted so funky, so my mom tasted it and they had used bloody mary mix instead of the strawberry daquiri mix!!

                                                                                    1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                      oh how incredibly yucky sounding! when i first started bting i made a whiskey sour with scotch whiskey-- i'd just run out of bourbon! the customer said something but drank it anyway so as not to waste the booze! LOL i later became a single-malt girl so the story makes me blush now. . .

                                                                                  2. The Washington Post printed a first-person story a few years ago in which a young lady made her first tiramisu. She followed the recipe exactly but the finished product tasted vile. The reason: The young lady was Indian, and in India, ladyfingers is the common name for okra!!!!

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Bob W

                                                                                      OMG, talk about lost in translation!!!

                                                                                    2. When my wife to be and I moved in together, she decided one night to make popcorn. She was using the oil in a sauce pan method and put the oil on to heat without putting popcorn in the pot. The first indicator I had that she wasn't used to a gas stove came when the pan lid exploded off the pan and flames shot into the air! I yelled to her to put the lid back on to put of the flames and get the pan off the burner. The pan reignited half way off the burner, blowing off the top again. She decided that rather than set the kitchen on fire, she would get the pan out the back door and with the flaming pan, ran towards the door. Burning oil ignited the rug, the family room couch, a chair and scorched the ceiling. She did make it out the back door whilest I put out the fire with a fire extinguisher. Yes Alton, the fire extinguisher IS the only sole tasker allowed in the kitchen!
                                                                                      I rarely tell the story because she still is rather sensitive about it.

                                                                                      1. i decided one time to make a birthday cake for my little sister and schlep it to a bar for everyone to sing and enjoy......i slaved over it - even went to NY Cake Baking and got those boxes bakery's use to schlep it in.....i decorated the heck out of it - made it all pretty and homey - in the style of magnolia bakery and cupcake cafe - but what i failed to concentrate on was properly mixing in the salt that the recipe called for and for some reason - is still have no idea - there were little pockets of salt scattered throughout that cake.....blech.....i am now uber paranoid about mixing cake batter......

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: deliciousnyc

                                                                                          Let me tell you about the first Cajun turkey I made. It was Easter, a few years ago
                                                                                          about the only holiday I was hosting that year and I wanted to try
                                                                                          something different. DH was away on a trip, neither boys around and I
                                                                                          got the worst flu the week before. No one around at all except my best
                                                                                          friend "Bubba", (he is the little dog that liked sports cars) On
                                                                                          Saturday I dragged myself out of bed to shop for equipment and food.
                                                                                          Could not find a thawed turkey or a syringe to inject it with the
                                                                                          seasoning anywhere. Took a turkey home, threw it in a sink full of
                                                                                          water and passed out. Woke up that evening, found an irrigating tube,
                                                                                          (it was in a sterile wrap!) and decided that would do for the syringe.
                                                                                          Mixed up a batch of melted butter and hot sauce, rinsed the turkey and
                                                                                          started trying to inject it. Sucker was still frozen! Started stabbing
                                                                                          it with a knife to make holes for the sauce and cut myself. All this
                                                                                          time my little dog is right at my side. I then took the irrigator and
                                                                                          stuck it in ne of the holes I had stabbed and started pushing the
                                                                                          plunger as hard as I could. The mixture of hot sauce and butter FINALLY
                                                                                          went in one of the holes! Problem was it flew with great force OUT of
                                                                                          the other holes. Windows, walls, floor, me and the poor dog covered
                                                                                          with hot sauce and butter. Bubba, of course, tried to lick it off his
                                                                                          face and ran looking for water. His usual bowls had not been filled so
                                                                                          he had to search through every room.
                                                                                          I cleaned most of the night. guests arrived and were too polite to
                                                                                          mention the pink stain on the walls, floor and dog. DH heated the huge
                                                                                          pot of oil in the back yard per my instructions, lowered the turkey,
                                                                                          flooded the patio with burning oil , tried to put the fire out with WATER,and we then left the rest of the job to the fire department.
                                                                                          I'm exhausted just remembering that day... Should have just taken
                                                                                          everyone to the Seahorse!!
                                                                                          Time for a glass of wine!

                                                                                        2. This is another carmelized sugar disaster.

                                                                                          Shortly after I moved out of my parents' house when I was in college, I decided, mysteriously, to make popcorn balls. It was a declaration of the newly independent, I guess, because my mother had never made them.

                                                                                          I heated the sugar syrup but it never really seemed to reach the "hard crack" stage necessary. So I just kept heating it and heating it. Finally, when it was carbonizing on the bottom of the pot, I took it off the flame. There was an inch or more of hard, black carbon in the bottom of the pot, but the top part was still syrupy, sort of, so I poured that over the popcorn. Then, without thinking, I eagerly scooped up some of the popcorn-syrup mixture to make the first ball -- not recommended when gooey sugar syrup is pushing a scorching 300 degrees. After attending to my burned hands, I returned to the kitchen and, using all the syrup I had left, made about 8 smallish, sad-looking popcorn balls.

                                                                                          My roomate and I decided to go for a walk while they cooled on the counter, and when we came back, all 8 were on the kitchen floor. His Irish setter, which we had left behind in the apartment during our walk, had transferred them there with his snout. Apparently they were still too hot for even him to eat, but that didn't stop him from going after them one by one. We decided we didn't want to eat popcorn balls with dog slobber all over them, so we threw them out. They were joined in the trash can by the now useless pot with a thick carbon coating at the bottom of it.

                                                                                          I never tried to make popcorn balls again.

                                                                                          1. Gosh all these stories are so good and all I've got are meat-plants. Oh well, here goes... I was doing South Beach diet, Phase 1 aka never eat anything good like wine or carbs (I lasted 10 days and then was like Will Ferrel's character in Road Trip when I finally got a glass of red wine...but that's another story). Anyway, the SoBe diet cook book had this *awesome* recipe for eggplant stuffed with ground beef and all these other yummy veggies. DH has learned not to grimace when I make something new because if it were up to him, we'd have the same 4 meals every week forever. So, he's carefully making these "hmm, interesting" noises as I'm dumping dressing on my millionth salad for the week. Finally, I try it and say, "This is the worst thing I've ever made." DH happily chucked it down the disposal....trust me, folks, eggplant is not meant to stuffed with ground beef....

                                                                                            1. At 3 am, I was making a batch of rice crispy treats for a next-day neighborhood bake sale and I was half awake or half asleep. Somehow, I mixed a cube of melted butter and 10 oz. of marshmallows...and it was greasy, so I added another bag and a half of marshmallows but I didn't have enough cereal for all this goo - so, I had to make the mad dash to the 24-hr grocery on the other side of town for more boxes of cereal...and remelt my marshmallow goo. In the end, we had brick-sized rice crispy treats to give away for 25ยข each.
                                                                                              Do you remember that sci-fi movie where the goo comes out of the sink drain...and just grows and grows? That's how I felt when I tried to restore balance to my recipe fiasco by adding more marshmallows to absorb all that melted butter. If I'd had half a brain, I should have tossed the grease-ladened first attempt and started over again. But, no, I had to try to "fix it". Lesson Learned - do not start a recipe at 3 am.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Cynsa

                                                                                                That reminds me of my worst ever... I was making rice crispy treats and decided to experiment -- at twelve years old. So, I made two batches, one with lemonade koolaid and one with black cherry. (or it might have been both in one - things are hazy now.) The result would have been good, if I hadn't put in 2-3 times as much as was needed.

                                                                                                We still ate half the batch. To this day, my sister can't look at rice crispy treats, much less eat one.

                                                                                              2. Never forget the time my mom made white asparagus that came to the table blue... She left the rubber band on in the pot. Blech.

                                                                                                1. For the purposes of thickening gravy (lemon-garlic chicken pot pie), baking soda =/= corn starch.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: AnnaEA

                                                                                                    First attempt at making homeade pie crust at my mother in law's house. Used flour in the pantry not knowing they only buy self rising flour. The pie crust was floating on top of the pecan pie mixture. Disgusting.

                                                                                                    1. re: Razorback

                                                                                                      Not really a disaster but a funny story nonetheless. My husband and I were hosting our first Christmas Eve dinner in our apartment shortly after we were first married. We were making pasta for the main course and I was making chocolate mousse for dessert. Well, we were rushed because SOMEONE (not me) waited until the last minute to get a tree and while he was wrestling with said tree, he burned the pasta sauce. He had to run out to the store to get more ingredients to make another batch and while he was gone, I called him on his cell to tell him to also pick up cream of tartar for the mousse.

                                                                                                      He was a novice cook back then and knew next to nothing about desserts so I suppose I should not have been surprised when he came home with...*drum roll* tartar sauce.

                                                                                                      He eventually went back to get the right thing but boy did I have fun teasing him about it at dinner!!! :)

                                                                                                  2. Note to self: When making a tuna and cheese pasta bake, remember to actually add the can of tuna.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: purple goddess

                                                                                                      heehee this sounds remarkably similar to a note I made to myself after a similar baking mishap: when making a pumpkin pie, remember to actually add the can of pumpkin :)
                                                                                                      (luckily, custard pies are also plausible! too bad i had already annouced I was making a pumpkin pie, though...)

                                                                                                    2. I hardly know where to start. My baking mishaps are embarrassingly common. Usually it's because I'm in a hurry (undoubtedly trying to bake something that needs to be refrigerated for at least 4 hours before being eaten, but dinner is a mere two hours away) or trying to do 50 things at once. I leave out ingredients all the time. I have left the egg mixture out of a flourless tart, the liquor-spiked raisins out of a sweet-potato cake and the leavener out of chocolate chip cookies. The first and last went directly into the trash. For the middle one, I scraped the batter out of the cake pans, stirred the raisins in and dumped it back in the cake pans. No one was ever any the wiser.

                                                                                                      A post-baking disaster: I put a lovely pecan/pumpkin pie on the corner of a table in my then-boyfriend/now-husband's house. I only wish someone had told me that the table was a makeshift table, and not really for using. One of the legs collapsed, and crash, my pie landed on the dining room floor. Most frightening -- I actually served it! I scooped the filling right back into the pan (so much for those pretty layers), and smoothed it out. Miraculously, no one had to pick pieces of German Shepherd hair out of their pie that night.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: msbo78

                                                                                                        I did the same thing with a just-out-of-the-oven sweet potato pie that I upended onto the floor of the car trying to get in with too many things in my hands. I don't think anyone got dog fur or industrial carpeting in their pie, but boy did I ever burn my hands scooping hot mashed sweet potatoes back into the crust.

                                                                                                        1. re: Pistou

                                                                                                          Once did the same thing with a quiche. There was a hole in the oven mitt so when my hands burned and I dropped the quiche on the floor, the pie plate miraculously didn't break! The quiche landed on the floor in tact. Since we were having close friends only over for Break Fast (post Yom Kippur = day of fasting) who had children, I even told them that I slid it back into the pan and served it! It was mighty tasty :)

                                                                                                      2. I was about 15 years old, and I had a babysitting job where I watched two little girls while their parents were at work. The first week (and last actually), they asked me to make them french toast for breakfast. Not really knowing how to make it, I figured that if I just buttered bread and put it in a pan, it would miraculously turn into a fluffy, yummy piece of french toast. The bread browned and I put it on a plate for them. I actually said, "It didn't turn out like the french toast I've ever had." It was years later that I learned that french toast is usually bread coated with eggs!

                                                                                                        When I was twenty years old, my boyfriend stayed over at my house. I figured that I should feed him in the morning so I attempted making scrambled eggs. I used a non-stick pan with black coating. It turned out that the pan still had something that previously burned in it stuck to the bottom. I didn't realize this until I started pushing the eggs around with a spatula. The eggs ended up having black flecks of god knows what in them and they were completely runny and underdone. My boyfriend ate them anyway.

                                                                                                        1. 14 years old - mom's birthday. My dad was away on a business trip and as I got off the school bus I had the greatest idea! I'd surprise mom and make her a cake. My resourceful self called a friend who met me halfway between our houses with a box of cake mix and I got to work. I can follow the directions on a Betty Crocker package but alas, I had no frosting.

                                                                                                          So I pull out my mom's go-to cookbook - it was my grandmother's and decades old but it has the best basic recipes for everything (including instructions for setting a table, being a gracious hostess, etc). I find the recipe for basic frosting and everything is going well until...the recipe says the mixture should "spin a thread."

                                                                                                          My mom loves to tell the story of how she walked in from work to find me sweating over the stovetop, totally perplexed, holding a spool of thread and frowning at my frosting (which thankfully turned out fine).

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: carissarene

                                                                                                            What does "spin a thread" actually mean?

                                                                                                            1. re: Veggie_Girl

                                                                                                              It's a sugar thing. When you lift a spoon up out of the mixture and turn the spoon, it should make a thread of sugar.

                                                                                                            2. re: carissarene

                                                                                                              When my daughter was still of high school age, she decided to bake me a lasagna for dinner on my birthday. She made a beautiful lasagna, and served it to me adorned with birthday candles. The lasagna was still hot from the oven, and the base of the candles melted into the sauce.

                                                                                                            3. I'm kind of new to baking, though I have been cooking since I was 6.
                                                                                                              About a month ago I attempted my first sourdough french bread. It came out hard as a brick!
                                                                                                              I maintain that it was a bad recipe because I was so anxious about it that I triple checked everything, but really who knows- coulda been user error.
                                                                                                              At any rate, I saved the loaf- it is in my garage even now. I intend to varnish it and put it in my kitchen somewhere as a reminder to strive for excellence.

                                                                                                              1. brother in law is convinced that pro bbq is no different than what he does in the backyard with a $90 gas grill and a bottle of ken davis. talks bbq with dh (who works and has worked as a pro bbqer) about it all the time. so when we moved into a loft and couldn't take the cast-iron smokers, dh thought he'd do the guy a favor and let him babysit the eqpt. drops everything off-- 3 grills, charcoal, tools, chimneys, gallon of homemade Q sauce, shows him how to set everything up. . . bil is so excited because he's going to grill chickens for the whole fam next weekend. . . so we show up with a salad, bil sets up the charcoal chimney on the grill of the biggest smoker. . . & then proceeds to soak the whole thing with lighter fluid and light it with a cigarette lighter. i didn't laugh but his wife did. i thought dh was going to cry.

                                                                                                                1. I was in the mood for some beef stroganoff one night this must have been about 7 years ago, cooked the tender beef, blah blah... thought it might taste better if I added some red wine...continued on to the sour cream step... not thinking...when red wine hits white sour cream.... yikes. My husband said "I'm not eating that, it looks like you cut up and cooked Barney" It was a little hard on the eyes, but tasted pretty good...

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: TarheelYankee

                                                                                                                    LOL!!! I hope you didn't have any toddlers around to hear that. They might have been scarred for life!

                                                                                                                    1. re: newbatgirl

                                                                                                                      hehe, no kids here... well, except for the one I married who acts like one.

                                                                                                                  2. i was making blondies once and mistook the vanilla for red food dye. we couldn't really call them blondies after that.

                                                                                                                    1. I don't know if someone else had a mishap like this. When I cut into a fresh cornbread I just made, I found a spoon baked into it. So **that's** where that spoon went!

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: xnyorkr

                                                                                                                        once i left the giblets in the roasted chicken a la carmella soprano--