In my heart of hearts…. I am a perfectionist. “I don’t really care how I do,” I say as I study furiously until 2am, “it doesn’t matter if things are a little off,” I laugh as I individually glue rhinestones onto sorority bids. And though baking is my relaxing, experimental hobby, this streak of perfection refuses to die. The little perfectionist inside of me simply must have perfectly domed, fluffy muffins and bakery-round cookies. And it has to be done on the First Try.
This is my own form of insanity, and I know it – of all things in life, baking is full of mistakes! And nothing human is perfect, and other than when I am a hamster at work, I am 100% human and perfectly flawed. Sometimes (often), things I bake turn out all wrong. Sometimes they just look a little funny but still taste great – it’s what’s on the inside that counts! Other times they look awful and taste awful as well – an all around tragedy with no saving graces.
So for all the cakes that didn’t come out of the pan, or the bread that was burnt on the outside yet raw on the inside, I dedicate this post to you. To the little (or big and expensive) imperfections that I’m always trying to avoid yet also trying to embrace.
Though if you’ve found the secret to some ‘perfect’ recipes… please let me know! 🙂
My Top Baking Fails (to date)
This cake is so rich and so fudgy and just looked so decadent in the Tasty video that I simply had to try it. It uses non-traditional (and expensive!) ingredients such as mayo, espresso powder, and stout to make a gorgeous cake. Sadly, I missed a crucial stuff – I oiled my pans instead of using parchment paper and the cake stuck like concrete to the bottom of the pan. I’d be lying if I said my heart did not cry when the cake crumbled out. Was it salvageable? Yes. And it was delicious and tasted like chocolate dreams. It just looked like dirt.
These beautiful cookies from Rose Hart Sweets looked so tempting. Unfortunately my dough never came together and I ended up with some tasty shortbread crumbles. I’ve struggled a bit with shortbread in the past, but have since successfully made shortbread with a few of own chocolate-drizzled and peanut butter twists. For me, the trick is to make sure my butter is warmed and at room temperature. I’ll have to try Rose’s recipe again!
I tried to spice up my usual plain pancakes with some cocoa powder and chocolate chips. And while they came out looking like beautiful, thick, chocolatey pancakes, they actually tasted dry, a little sour, and suspiciously chewy. My guess is that the cocoa powder dried out the batter and was too bitter to add good flavor. This is a recipe to tweak on another day!
One of the very first things I baked was bread. I had not tools, little knowledge, and spent a good amount of time researching how to make a crusty, simple loaf without a Dutch oven. Armed with my Google search, I decided to make 6 loaves of bread in a baking bonanza. 5/6 turned out pretty great, so I’d actually score this as mostly a success. The odd one out just never baked properly. It was almost certainly proofed incorrectly and has the misfortune of being stuck in the corner of my oven that doesn’t heat evenly. It’s always important to test your oven temperature before baking in it for the first time!
My dad makes the best scallion pancakes. They are buttery, light, and full of a the fresh spring flavor of green onion. A perfect scallion pancake should be flaky and full of flavorful layers. My pancakes turned out dense. The mistakes were clear – the dough lacked water and time to rest, and I skimped on the margarine and the layers. Some good things you just can’t rush. And those same good things often just need a lot more fat, screw the calorie count.
As I bake more, I’m sure even more anomalies will pop out from my kitchen. Thus is life. What are your most memorable mistakes?