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Worst. Bread. Ever.

A cautionary tale: trust your instincts.

Once a week I volunteer at a soup kitchen. Last night I thought - gosh, I should make some kind of bread or something to bring in. I had the remains of a bag of rolled oats, a jar of dried-out raisins, a few slightly cracked eggs that had to be cooked ( I cracked them myself by accident), and half a tub of yogurt that needed to be used. I found a recipe that included all those things.

On reading through the recipe, I thought - gosh that's a lot of baking soda for one loaf of bread. And then, further, realized that there was no oil or other shortening in the recipe (it was a quick bread). But, like an idiot, I didn't pay attention to the recipe alarm bells. For ONE LOAF the recipe called for 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of rolled oats. Also 1-1/2 cups of raisins, a cup of brown sugar and 2 cups of buttermilk (for which I subbed yogurt thinned with milk). I added about 1/4 cup of veg. oil because I though it should have some. And the piece de resistance: 1 tbsp. EACH of baking powder and baking soda.

First of all, omigod, the sheer quantity of batter! It foamed almost right out of the bowl immediately. So I greased a second loaf pan because - holy cow, it wasn't going to fit in one. THen I spooned the batter in and let it bake.

Well you all know what happened next. The batter grew out of the pans and all over the oven floor. Then the breads sank in the middle before baking to industrial-strength toughness. At the end, I let them cool slightly and, ever the optimist, took a small bite.

Let's just say that there should never be 1 tbs. of baking soda in anything. The chickens, this morning, were very grateful. I never bake a recipe that looks hinky - and this is why. I should definitely have listened to my gut. Oh well. A good reminder.

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  1. Hilarious good read!

    1. Oh God, been there in a way - mixed up baking soda and baking powder amounts in a chocolate loaf cake of Maida Heatter's that I had made perfectly before - talk about chocolate lava cake, it was all over everything.

      1. I saw this in an "I Love Lucy" episode, except that Lucy's loaf of bread cannoned out of the oven about four feet long and knocked her across the kitchen. My own "worst bread ever" was a quick bread that I made to use up leftover canned pumpkin. It came out of the oven half as tall as it went in; even your chickens would have turned up their beaks. Never did figure out what the problem was.

        1. I feel your pain, haven't we all trusted recipes that lied to us?

          Anyhow how about some redemption?

          Here is an EXCELLENT recipe for Honey Oatmeal Bread which is adapted from KitchenAid, and utilizes a stand mixer with a bread hook. It is really really good!

          Honey Oatmeal Bread

          1 1/2 cups water
          1/2 cup honey
          1/3 cup unsalted butter
          5 1/2-6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
          1 cup quick-cooking oats
          2 teaspoons salt
          2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
          2 eggs
          For top of crust:
          1 egg white
          1 tablespoon water
          oatmeal

          Directions

          1. Place water, honey, and margarine in small saucepan. Heat over low heat until mixture is very warm (120-130°F).
          2. Place 5 cups flour, oats, salt and yeast in mixer bowl. Mix with dough hook on speed 2 (low) about 15 seconds.
          3. Continue mixing, gradually adding warm water mixture and mix for 1 minute. Add eggs and mix 1 minute longer.
          4. Still on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix about 2 minutes, or until dough clings to hook and cleans side of bowl. Knead on speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.
          5. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover with damp towel or plastic wrap.
          6. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour, or until doubled.
          7. Punch dough down and divide in half. Roll each half with rolling pan on floured board into a rectangle and roll up from the short end like a jelly roll. Tuck in the ends.
          8. Place each loaf seam side down into greased loaf pans. Beat egg white and water together with a fork. Brush top of loaves with mixture, and sprinkle with oatmeal. Let rise 20-30 minutes.
          9. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes.
          Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

          14 Replies
          1. re: TrishUntrapped

            What size leaf pans do you use? I have 8x4 and 9x5. I always seem to use the wrong one when size is not specified.

            1. re: jmnewel

              Good question jm, I will check when I get home tonight and let you know.

              1. re: jmnewel

                I just measured my pans, they are 8 x 4.

              2. re: TrishUntrapped

                Small typo in the recipe above, under directions, I use only unsalted butter, not margarine.

                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                  Trish, think I can halve this recipe successfully?

                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                    I was wondering the exact same thing :)

                    1. re: millygirl

                      I think this recipe seems like it would half easily. But that is just my opinion.

                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                        Thank you SO MUCH for posting this recipe. I made a half recipe last night, and it was very well-received. I didn't get to eat a slice, since I'm avoiding gluten, but it was just gorgeous and nice and soft. The shape was very nice as well. My DH and a friend really enjoyed it hot from the oven with preserves.

                        The only change I made was to let the dough rise in the loaf pan for about 20-min. before baking.

                        1. re: ChristinaMason

                          OMG, Christina, yes, the loaves need to rise in the pans about 20-30 minutes!!! I left that off!! I will ask Chowhound if I can correct the recipe. Shoot me know for this...so sorry...glad your good common sense prevailed!

                          1. re: TrishUntrapped

                            Thank you to Chowhound for adding second rising time!

                            Christina, glad the bread came out good. My family loves this recipe the most of any bread I make.

                            1. re: TrishUntrapped

                              Just wanted to chime in again. I made the recipe a second time, but accidentally ended up letting it rise too long and probably too hot. The bread was nowhere near as good looking or tasting. The crumb was a little funky and the loaf was flat. Yech.

                              Just goes to show that it pays to follow the directions. I'm going to give it another shot this week. Thanks again for sharing this recipe. I feel so accomplished when it turns out! :)

                              1. re: ChristinaMason

                                H Christina, I've made the Honey Oatmeal bread recipe twice since the original posting. Came out great both times, so I do feel the recipe is sound. Good luck with your next batch.

                                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                  I made it again, this time following the rising times more closely. It came out great!

                                  I halved the recipe and subbed 1 c. wheat flour for white, since I was short. The dough was a little harder to roll out, but it turned out great. It's fantastic for breakfast with eggs.

                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                    Christina, that's great! Nothing, absolutely nothing beats a great hot loaf of bread. Next time I make it I am going to substitute the wheat flour as you did. Always great to get more whole grains in our diet!

                2. Now that would be a fun time lapse video to watch.

                  1. You made Science Fair Volcano Bread!

                    Totally hilarious -- and I've done my own fair share of things that made absolutely no sense in retrospect, but for some reason didn't set off my stupidity detector while I was doing them.

                    Hope your oven won't be too tough to get clean.

                    1. Actually - I just re-checked the recipe and it was even WORSE than I described above! And even more shockingly - well, why don't you just have a look for yourself:

                      http://www.chow.com/recipes/13379

                      I know - a CHOW recipe. There are 2 tablespoons each of baking powder and baking soda!!! I must have been on drugs last night when I baked that recipe.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Nyleve

                        Is there a way to contact the recipe's author, Terence Janericco, to find out if this recipe is correct? Man, it seems way off.

                        1. re: TrishUntrapped

                          No idea - but at the very least it should be removed from the CHOW site. I mean, no one could have success with that recipe. It's insane.

                          1. re: TrishUntrapped

                            I did a "Search Inside" on Amazon to find the original recipe. Indeed, as we all suspected, it should be teaspoons, not tablespoons, so someone at CHOW goofed when entering the recipe.

                            Curiously, they also increased the quantities of all of the other ingredients from his original (1 1/2 cups of flour, oats, and buttermilk to 2 cups, 2 eggs to 3 eggs, etc.). Unless the author has posted corrections to his original recipe elsewhere, that seems like rather a liberty to make these changes yet still attribute it to him. CHOW could, of course, say, "Adapted from" if they want, but it certain isn't Terence Janericco's original recipe.

                            I think I'll post this as a comment on the recipe as well.

                            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                              Really interesting. Now why on earth would someone up the other ingredients unless they wanted to put it into a much bigger pan? It was pretty hard to assess while my batter was foaming like The Blob out of the mixing bowl, but I very much doubt the quantity would have comfortably fit into a normal loaf pan even if it weren't all puffed up.

                          2. re: Nyleve

                            I'm thinking it must be a typo and mean tsp? Maybe you could leave a comment on the bottom?

                            1. re: chowser

                              I will leave a comment. Could possibly be a typo. I'm being kind.

                              1. re: Nyleve

                                You're so kind for your volunteering - and thanks for steering us away from that recipe.

                                It was a good read

                          3. Hilarious! At least you can dine out on the story if not the bread.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: cinnamon girl

                              One loaf went to my girls this morning - the other will go tomorrow. They'll perform their chickeny magic and turn it in to eggs. It's all good!

                              1. re: Nyleve

                                I feel for you Nyleve. I recently tried the Almond Cake recipe from Chow and had a similar experience in that it was a disaster!!! So bad, I actually just chucked the whole thing in frustration. I hate when recipes fail.

                                On a positive note, Trish's Honey Oatmeal bread sounds fabulous. I must try that this weekend.

                                1. re: Nyleve

                                  Ewww... Thinking about that... it had eggs in it in the first place...

                              2. Disaster! I responded to the thread on Site Talk too: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/689151

                                I took the recipe down off the site -- and as I said on the Site Talk thread, the CHOW team doesn't touch any of those licensed recipes so we're looking into how it could have been changed. So sorry you had such a bad experience, so happy you have chickens who can benefit from it!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: davina

                                  All my disasters go to "the girls". So nothing is ever all lost.