Houston, we have a problem…

Um yeah, so this happened yesterday. Oops. Big oops. Big, messy oops.

Baking Disaster

See, I was making cupcakes. I followed a recipe. A recipe out of a cupcake book written by a wildly popular multimedia mogul (who shall remain nameless so that her uber empire doesn’t come crumbling down due to one negative review by the Brown Eyed Baker… oops, did I give it away?). I made the batter. “Wow, that looks insanely runny, I thought to myself. But I carried on, remembering that the recipe for my favorite chocolate cake produces a very thin batter as well, and that this might be the same, resulting in wonderfully moist cupcakes. But, I was wrong. I should have listened to my gut instinct. Yesterday, it was so glaringly right.

So why am I showing you this epic disaster? Because the biggest reason I maintain this site (other than sharing recipes and my love of food) is because I want to give home cooks and bakers the tools and confidence to tackle kitchen projects. Big or small, easy or difficult. And I think that it helps to know that we all make mistakes and we all have bad days in the kitchen. We all have catastrophes, and sometimes they result in being subjected to 3+ hours of inhaling the smoke from a self-cleaning oven that is emitting a distinct burnt-sugar smell. We’ve all been there.

Oven self-cleaning after baking disaster

But, now that the mess is cleaned up and the oven is sparkling, I’m back at it. And I’ll see you tomorrow with some mocha-licious cupcakes. You won’t want to miss them.

In the meantime, so that I’m not left on this smokey, burnt island all by myself, care to share your worst kitchen disaster with me?

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88 Responses to “Houston, we have a problem…”

  1. monica on August 12, 2010 at 12:28 am

    well then, i’ll go first. last thanksgiving was my first attempt at brining a bird. in a new kitchen. with hardwood floors. and just as i was finishing pouring the brine in the bag with the bird i thought, “i should probably wait for hubby to come home and hold this bag open, but i’m almost done”. rookie mistake. the bag slipped and gallons of bacteria-laden brine water poured all over the hardwood floor and under the dishwasher. yikes. at least my husband wasn’t home to watch me clean it up with gallons of bleach spray. at 11:30 at night. what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

    Reply

  2. Leslie on August 12, 2010 at 12:32 am

    I have also had a major cookie disaster with a recipe by a multimillionaire, multi-media mogul! The worst chocolate chip cookies ever! They were a huge, runny, unsalvageable mess. Even with a really great mixer and multiple Silpats, I wasn’t able to make the recipe work. I did better using the recipe on my generic bag of all-purpose flour and tweaking the ingredients slightly. Thanks for the post!

    Reply

  3. The Housewife on August 12, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Yikes… so sorry you had to experience this! Its so frustrating when you put in so much of an effort and then.. *poof*. I’ve had one too many kitchen disasters (one which includes setting an entire muffin pan on fire.. yes, there were real flames leaping out!) But you would think that the er… media mogul would have better qc for her books.. how sad!

    Reply

  4. Wendy H on August 12, 2010 at 1:30 am

    Listening to a friend that was giving me directions on how to cook a steak. I was using my le creuset grill pan on the oven top and he told me to crank it up as high as it would go(I have an electric oven and he uses gas). It was also my fault for not reading the directions that came with the pan and the fact that he had a regular cast iron pan without any type of coating. The pan ended up actually stucking to my oven burner once it got that hot and the enameled coating started melting. It was a mess and I ended up burning my hand because I thought I still had the pot holder on and it had slipped off.

    Reply

  5. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking on August 12, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Oh no!! I’m sorry! I’m so glad you posted pictures, though, because sometimes kitchen flops are the most fun to share and see! I’m going to post a flop on Monday :)

    Reply

  6. Charlotte on August 12, 2010 at 2:05 am

    I one made a cake that just would bubble out of its form and splash everywhere in the oven. I couldn’t even pinpoint where things had gone wrong, because the dough seemed well enough. At first I thought it was just too much dough, scraped off the first wave and continued baking but then I ended up in the fairy tale with the pot on the stove with the porridge that would never stop cooking and swamp the whole world with porridge. I definitely know what happened to that person before anyone ever wrote the whole story down.

    Reply

  7. rose on August 12, 2010 at 6:03 am

    I have been learning not to mourn when kitchen disasters happen. A while back before I started watching top chef, I would mourn and not sleep well after a mistake. Now I know that even well seasoned cooks make mistakes too. That has helped me to be patient with other people too. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  8. Nicole on August 12, 2010 at 6:04 am

    I have also experienced total failure following the very same mogul’s recipe, with one minor exception. It was totally my fault. I was making ginger molasses cupcakes. The first batch came out burnt on top and completely raw inside (like still very much a liquid). I couldn’t figure it out, so I reduced the temp on the SECOND BATCH. Same thing. It wasn’t until I was done burning all the ginger molasses cupcake batter I could make that I realized the oven had been on broil the entire time. Oops!

    Reply

  9. Stacey Lowe on August 12, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Oh my what a mess! That’s why I prefer to make recipes from your site or others that I feel confident someone has tested. Especially so when you follow a recipe to the tee! A wise friend of mine quite a few years back explained to me the importance of recipes coming from a tried and true source,otherwise all your efforts could be futile! I think I have an idea to the source; I have tried a few recipes from online and a small magazine and none were sucessful even though you would suspect the opposite! I am all for taking responsibilities for changes make to a recipe that may alter it but never happy when the original is not what it should be!

    Reply

  10. Amy K on August 12, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Oh NO…yikes! I would guess that it’s safe to say you won’t be trying that recipe again?! :)
    My disaster..are you sure you want to know? Back when I was just a youngin’ and didn’t have a covered roasting pan, I wanted to roast a turkey for hot turkey sandwiches. So, I started roasting my turkey in a 9×13 pyrex. The young, inexperienced cook that I was, about midway through, I decided there wasn’t enough juice in the bottom of the pan – guess what I did…..I added water to that HOT, GLASS pan…..guess what happened next….the pan shattered into about a MILLION pieces, right there in the oven! Ugghhhh, I was so angry at myself, and not only that, had to quickly come up with an alternative to feed a group of people!
    Needless to say, this happened a couple months before our wedding. We all got a good laugh when one of the wedding gifts we opened was a set of two roasters!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on August 12th, 2010 at 9:53 am

      Amy, I too have had a Pyrex 9×13 pan explode! It was back when I first started baking, and was making bread and it said to put a “roasting pan” in the bottom of the oven when you preheat it and then when you put the bread in, you pour water in the roasting pan to create steam and a crisp crust. Well, I didn’t want to dig for my roasting pan and figured this would be just fine. Um, yeah not so much. I actually vacuumed glass out of my oven for hours. I have since learned from my mistake :)

      Reply

      • foodlvr on August 12th, 2010 at 10:40 am

        I have also had a Pyrex pan explode on me. I didn’t have a roasting pan at the time. I made a casserole in an 8×8 Pyrex from the Martha Stewart Every Day line from K-Mart. I thought the casserole was taking too long so I pressed the Broil button. When I went to take the casserole out, and it hit the air, it exploded all over the place. It totally freaked me out.

        Reply

        • Kathryn on July 12th, 2011 at 6:32 pm

          Ooh, well, yeah, that happened to me. The pyrex thing. Only mine, I think, was a manufacturer’s error. I was making chicken (from frozen, started it in a cold oven so everything would heat at relatively the same rate..) and about three-quarters of the way through, the entire thing exploded inside the oven. I didn’t know what it was, because the oven was closed and I wasn’t really paying attention. It sounded like a distinct pop, almost as though someone took a cork-gun and shot it under my window? So it baffled me. I checked the oven, finally, and realized my chicken was sitting on a nice large shard of glass (none got inside the chicken, oddly enough..) and was surrounded by a bunch of miniscule shards lying on the bottom of the oven…That was SO much fun to clean up =] I feel y’all’s pain…

          Reply

  11. Linda in TX on August 12, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Well did you ever use baking soda instead of baking powder? 4 times in a row just because you were so sure of your recipe? And me too for flames in the oven – after my daughter burned butter all over the bottom of the oven and then just turned on ‘self-clean’. Fun times these. (and yeah – the inhalation is wonderful)

    Reply

  12. Madison Mayberry on August 12, 2010 at 7:28 am

    I had the exact same thing happen with Martha Stewart’s carrot cake cupcakes. They rose up, overflowed, and then left me with sunken little gooey messes when I took them out of the oven. I was so shocked that one of her recipes could turn out so terribly wrong! Thanks for sharing your experience, too!

    Reply

  13. Kacey;s Kitchen on August 12, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Not sure if it was my WORST kitchen disaster story, but it sure made quite a mess. While waiting for the water to boil for hard boiled eggs (eggs are in the pot at this point), for some bizarre reason I thought I’d have enough time to run upstairs and check my email. So I got busy doing just that….reading emails, writing emails, browsing random useless stuff…for about AN HOUR. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until I heard this explosion from the kitchen. “Oh Shit.” Apparently it took that long for the water to evaporate and the eggs to get hot and dry enough to burn and explode, throwing the lid off of the pot and insuring that microscopic pieces of blackened egg were wedged in every nook and cranny of my kitchen.

    The smell was horrible for days, the pot was destroyed, and I found pieces of egg for weeks…no matter how hard I cleaned.

    Reply

  14. amanda @ fake ginger on August 12, 2010 at 7:43 am

    How does that even happen?! They just exploded? I think you should share the recipe so that none of us try making it any time soon! ;)

    Reply

    • Michelle on August 12th, 2010 at 9:49 am

      I actually don’t think they exploded. I think that the batter was so runny/liquidy that it actually boiled in the oven and then overflowed. There wasn’t anything on the walls of the oven, just the mess in the cupcake pan and then below on the floor of the oven.

      The recipe is for mocha cupcakes from her Cupcake book.

      Reply

  15. shelly (cookies and cups) on August 12, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Yes, you should definitely share the recipe, because I might just have that very book staring at me on my bookshelf and I will absolutely positively blame you if this happens to me ;) Well, not really, but you should share…or at least give a little hint!
    Biggest disaster? oh man, there have been so many…probably burning my biscuits to a hockey-puck crisp, all while the children yell, “mom set off the smoke alarm again!” Love those kids ;)

    Reply

    • Michelle on August 12th, 2010 at 9:50 am

      Hi Shelly, the recipe is the mocha cupcakes from the Cupcake book. I was really surprised because I made her Pumpkin cupcakes from the same book last year and they were absolutely fantastic!

      Reply

      • shelly (cookies and cups) on August 13th, 2010 at 8:44 am

        Thanks! I have made many cupcakes from that book and some have turned out really great, while others..not so much. Although, I have to say…no messes quite like yours! I will definitely avoid that one ;)

        Reply

  16. Jeanine on August 12, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Ha! That his awesome! Glad I’m not the only one that has had this happen. A year or two ago, I was baking some potatoes, the same way I’ve always baked them. Scrub them down, put them in straight in the oven at 425*, and walk away. This one day, for some unknown reason, they exploded. Like seriously, exploded! They burst open and all the white fluffiness from inside was all over my (self-cleaning, thank goodness) oven. Not just one potato either, I think it was 3 or so. Horrible mess. Actually let it dry, vacuumed it out (never done that to my stove before!), and then ran the self clean. Crazy mess.
    Thanks for sharing your “WHOA” moment with us, made me feel not so alone in this crazy cooking adventure. :)

    Reply

  17. Barbara on August 12, 2010 at 8:35 am

    I haven’t had this experience, but my Aunt put together a family favorite cookbook and had it printed. We discovered later that when it was printed (I am guessing that someone didn’t know the difference) the recipes called for canned milk and the printer entered condensed milk instead of evaporated milk in place of the canned milk. We all would have known what canned milk meant. It was trial and error whenever you made a recipe from that book. Should I use Evaporated or Condensed:) We all got a good laugh out of it.
    So you see, it could be the publishers fault not the author that made the mistake.

    Reply

  18. Caroline on August 12, 2010 at 8:35 am

    My worst disaster was probably when I was trying to make lettuce wraps. I not only set off TWO smoke alarms, I also had insulation from the ceiling pouf out of my oven vent and threaten my food. I went between practically laying over my pots and pans to protect my hard work from fiberglass insulation to running from room to room removing the batteries from the offending smoke alarms. All at 11:30 pm.

    Reply

  19. Amber on August 12, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Oh, the same thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I tried to fit a full cake recipe into two 8 inch round baking pans instead of 9 inch. I didn’t think it would puff up as big as it did! Wow, was it a mess! I then halved the recipe and it fully filled the cake pans when baked. I will not make that mistake again! I don’t have a self cleaning oven!!

    Reply

  20. Rebecca on August 12, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I was dog-sitting at my sister’s house and using her cast iron skillet and gas stove (neither of which I have any experience with!) to brown some chicken. I set off the smoke alarm and didn’t realize it was hooked up to the alarm system until the fire trucks showed up! The chicken turned out just fine but my friends (who I’d invited over for dinner!) and I had a great laugh at my expense!

    Reply

  21. Dani on August 12, 2010 at 9:08 am

    My husband and I were having friends over on Halloween for dinner and movies and while we were going to order dinner in, I wanted to make these incredible pumpkin cupcakes I’d had recently (http://fieryirishangel.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/pumpkin-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-frosting/). I mixed up the batter and thought that it looked a little different, but having only made them once, I couldn’t put my finger on what was “off”. I ran through the recipe and the steps in my head and couldn’t find anything I missed, so I put them into the oven. 20 minutes later I pulled out something that looked remarkably like your photo, though it blessedly stayed contained in/on the cupcake pan (http://fieryirishangel.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/cupcake-fail/). I was crushed… and our friends didn’t get any cupcakes that night. To this day I have no idea what I did wrong, and coincidentally, I haven’t made that recipe again, but I’m sure I will this coming fall.

    Reply

  22. Laura on August 12, 2010 at 9:13 am

    At least you have a self cleaning oven…

    Reply

  23. Foodlvr on August 12, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I agree with Leslie. I have made cookies from a major multimillionaire, multi-media mogul! The worst chocolate chip cookies ever. I agree. They were too thin, melted into each other and just made a big mess. I think that this popular multiple millionaire mogul deletes ingredients from her recipes or gives the wrong amounts in her baking recipes. I have made several with bad results. I have had luck with some of her cooking recipes though.

    Reply

  24. Angie (Telly's Tasty Tidbits) on August 12, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I once tried to roast a whole chicken. It was from a Williams-Sonoma recipe and every recipe of theirs I’ve tried has been fantastic. The top of the chicken was wrapped in bacon. Well, the bacon was spitting grease ALL OVER my oven… the smoke detectors kept going off, I kept adjusting the temperature to try to stop it… on and on. Needless to say I gave up on it the 4th time the smoke detectors went off. I’ve been terrified of roasting a whole chicken since then :(

    Reply

  25. Jim-49 on August 12, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Well Ladies,I could always cook meals and cakes,etc. But,I found a pound cake in the news paper,about 4 years ago,while taking care of a terminally ill wife .Well it all went well,for about 20 minutes,then it like blew up,all over the top,and sides.I have done better,in other things,and learned alot,from all of you.I will tell you this,you got a friend in the pulpit,because,I tell those working husbands,you have days just like us,and things go bad,and lay off the fussing!! I know how it is,when kids cause delays,family,sickness,etc,and it just don’t work out.Yes,we did sometime come home for dinner,and wonder,”boy must have been some TV show,or at town too long.Now,I know better,and should have understood,many years ago!!

    Reply

  26. Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle on August 12, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Well, I have had my own kitchen disasters but hard not to comment on a lot of the comments! Big media mogul; probably doesn’t really do much cooking; husbands that don’t get it? Been there, done that…he’s GONE!

    But my worst kitchen disaster. Making some spaghetti sauce and had to run and pick up a kid from something (that hubs being GONE…meant I did it all…oh yeah, that’s why he was where he was, huh?). In my frenzy to get it done, get younger daughter’s shoes on…feed the dog, well, you know…I forgot to turn it down. I’m glad to say the house did not burn down, but when we got back, the smoke was so think you literally could not see.

    And then I find out the problem with burning a protein; yep, that smoke was thick and stuck to EVERYTHING. Wasn’t just curtains that had to be cleaned,, or sofas…but walls. Took weeks before the smell wasn’t evident upon entering the door.

    So one thing I’ve learned, the baby can go without shoes on to pickup the sis…but don’t forget to turn down that heat on the stove!

    Reply

  27. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) on August 12, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I loved hearing this. Makes me feel better about a disaster I had while making caramel corn. The sugar was boiling, and I added the baking soda, which caused 90% of the hot sugar mizture to bubble over the pan, something that I spent 3 hours scraping off!!
    I wrote a bit about it –
    http://yumsiliciousbakes.blogspot.com/2010/07/caramel-popcorn.html

    Reply

  28. SuzyQ on August 12, 2010 at 10:20 am

    My sister was having a pool party and requested the fruit pizza cookies…done with slice and bake cookies. Which I have never bought/used before. Sliced them, threw two pans in the oven and later looked in to see a runny goo spreading over the cookie sheets (how I would have killed to have one with sides then!) and onto the bottom of my pristine oven. (No self-cleaning oven, either.) Grabbed a spatula and scraped up what I could, which wasn’t easy due to the heating elements on the bottom!

    Threw everything outside for the raccoons (did I mention it is going on midnight by this time?) and decided to make sugar cookies from scratch. Except we had only one stick of butter in the house and I had to have them done first thing in the morning. So I found a recipe that also had vegetable oil in it. Did not sound appealing AT ALL, but beggars can’t be choosers. Turned out to be some of the best cookies ever, and everyone raved about them!

    Still not sure how you can screw up slice and bakes, but I did!

    Reply

  29. Tuscan Foodie in America on August 12, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I guess she is the same media mogul that sells a line of kitchen tools at Macy’s that break after one single usage?

    Anyway…

    Reply

  30. Steph@PlainChicken on August 12, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I am going to have get my Cupcake book out and check the recipe out. You have made me extremely curious. I hate when this happens, but thank God for self-cleaning ovens!

    Reply

  31. April on August 12, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Thankfully I haven’t had a true disaster in my oven (yet!!!) but when I was a teenager sitting in the kitchen doing homework I heard a low hisssssssssssssss….before I had a chance to process it, BAM!! Explosion! Mom had left the empty glass teakettle on the stove and left the eye on. We had to spend a while searching for pieces of glass that flew all over the kitchen.

    Reply

  32. PaintingChef on August 12, 2010 at 10:39 am

    The first pound cake I ever made… WHAT a disaster. My grandmother was a caterer so I had been, under her watchful eye, mixing up cakes for years. But that was in her professional kitchen in a controlled environment where all the correct ingredients were right there in handy, professional dispensers. One afternoon when I was in middle school, my mom said to me “You are going to get home before me tomorrow. I need to take a pound cake to the neighbor, she just had a baby. The recipe is on the counter, can you bake the cake, please?” Duh. Of COURSE I can bake the cake. So. I had no idea that there was such a thing as self-rising flour or that it was different from plain flour or that one needed to even READ the bag of flour because all the flour I’d baked with was in a large white tub in a professional kitchen. So… pound cake… self-rising flour…

    My mother comes home and I’m a wreck. “I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED!! IT JUST KEEPS GROWING AND GROWING!!” The cake, in the over, was like the Blob. It was this ridiculous living, breathing, growing mass that never cooked. It just inflated. My mom, of course, just laughed and laughed because she knew, instantly, what I’d done because she’s done it herself only a couple of weeks ago…

    what a mess…

    Reply

    • Jen on September 8th, 2011 at 10:29 am

      Haha, that was a beautiful bonding moment for you two!

      Reply

  33. Jess on August 12, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I just recently realized how much I love being in the kitchen so every chance I get I will try a new recipe. I was baking a cake using sprite instead of eggs, oil and butter. It was a recipe my mom had picked up. She forgot to mention when you bake the cake it expands… a lot!! The cake was great, the mess was not!

    Reply

  34. Pam on August 12, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I’m sorry it happened but glad to hear I’m not the only one! I’ve had my share of disasters and the worst might be the one and only time I put 2 Idaho potatoes in the micro and set it for way too long by accident. I left the kitchen and then heard an explosion. Not nice! Potato everywhere and the micro was on fire.

    Reply

  35. Natalie @ The City Sisters on August 12, 2010 at 10:45 am

    My sister, Emily, and I were making a cake a few years ago. We may have put a little too much batter in the pans and may have forgotten to slide a baking sheet under the cake pans while they were baking in the oven (and maybe drank a little too much wine). Cake batter over-flowed all over the oven!! It was a MESS! We just laughed, popped open another bottle of wine, and got to scrubbin’! It may have been a disaster, but it’s definitely a night I will never forget!

    Reply

  36. Theresa on August 12, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Oh no – that is bad. I’m amazed that there’s nothing left in the actual cups of the pan!

    My worst recent kitchen disaster was last year, when we had my family over for Christmas. They all spent the night and I planned to make my favorite cinnamon buns for breakfast. I put the dough together, rolled and cut the buns and placed them in a pan in the fridge the night before. The next morning they had risen in the fridge overnight and the pan was pretty full. I figured I could skip the second rise and just pop them in the oven. Baaaaaaaaaaaad idea. The cinnamon buns expanded even further, oozing out of the pan and onto the burner at the bottom of the oven. Smoke filled the kitchen and the smoke detector went off with my firefighter dad standing there watching the whole thing! I ended up having to overbake them because the center was still raw. Ultimately the cinnamon buns still tasted fantastic, but my kitchen smelled like burnt sugar for a week after that!

    Reply

  37. Katie on August 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Oh dear, it happens to us all sometimes. I have managed to shatter a pirex dish by adding cold liquid to it while it was still hot and I once grilled my sisters birthday cake by accident instead of baking it. I’ve also put a plastic bowl on top of the hob while it was still hot without realising. I came back to find molten plastic oozing its way across the cooker. Sigh…, we all live and learn

    Reply

  38. Mary Lynn on August 12, 2010 at 11:30 am

    This past Easter Saturday, I decided to try a new recipe for scalloped potatoes. Two 13 x 9 pans and a lot of heavy cream. Hubby checked it, looks okay. Less than 5 minutes later the kitchen is filled with smoke and the alarm is now sounding FIRE FIRE FIRE. Thank goodness the alarm company called, before they sent the fire trucks. Saving embarrassment and $100.00. The oven is self cleaning, which means more smoke . We used the new products on the market for self cleaning ovens, have cleaned it three times, and it still continues to smoke a bit. Can’t see where it is coming from. I see a new stove in my future.

    Reply

  39. Evie on August 12, 2010 at 11:41 am

    No worries! I poured curdled milk into a cornbread batter yesterday. Epic fail.

    Reply

  40. Melissa on August 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    My biggest goof happened when I was softening butter. I used to have a lot of trouble getting the timing right on softening butter in the microwave so I would put the butter in a bowl and put the bowl in the oven while it was pre-treating to soften it. This was working great for me until the day I forgot about it. When I did remember, I was moving so quickly to get the bowl out that I didn’t stop to think how long it had been in there or hot a glass bowl would actually get in a 350 degree oven. I grabbed the bowl with my bare hand and dropped it almost immediately. Upside down. Melted butter dripping down into my oven. Butter burns to a glossy black puddle on the bottom of the oven. A puddle that hardens and is close to impossible to clean up. Burned hand, burned butter, and no chance of baking cookies…bad all the way around!

    Reply

  41. Sarah on August 12, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    I’ve had had several fails-thank goodness none of them involved something blowing up in the oven :)
    1st-I was young and thought I knew it all…recipe calls for confectioner’s sugar. I thought to myself, “Confectioner is someone who works with sweets so I guess its just a fancy name for sugar” WRONG-pie turned into gloppy mess
    2nd-Trying to bake a cake for a cake walk for a Fall Fest last year. I followed the recipe exactly in the cookbook that came with my KitchenAid mixer. I thought when I was mixing it that it looked way thicker than the cake batter I was used to but I threw it in the oven anyways. Needless to say, I turned out with something that looked more like a pita than a cake.
    3rd-I was making pies for my grandmother in law using a recipe of another media mogul who has sweet southern charm. Well her chocolate pie custard never got thick. So I wasted not one, but 2 pies (hoping if I cooked it longer, it would set up-no such luck)

    Reply

  42. Christine on August 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    WOW – that is really bad – the cupcakes actually disappeared!

    And yeah for self-cleaning ovens – I love using mine!

    Reply

  43. Kathy on August 12, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    My big oops happened many years ago when I was in junior high school. It was my job to make the bread for the family every week and this one time I forgot to add the salt to the recipe. Dear God, it was the worst bread ever- was solid like a brick and tasted like cardboard. Even the birds would have nothing to do with it. I’ve never forgotten the salt since, and nobody in the family has let me forget either. Funny thing is I’m now the official baker for all holidays and get togethers.

    Reply

  44. Joanne on August 12, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Oh my gosh! Which recipe did you try to make so I can avoid it at all costs forever and ever?

    Reply

  45. Erin @ The Houndstooth Apron on August 12, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    My first semester in college was a complete nightmare. One night I was cooking a frozen pizza in our little dorm oven, and I was talking on the phone at the same time. I tried to balance my phone on my shoulder and take the pizza out at the same time and ended up dropping it on the oven door. It hopped out of the pan and landed face down on the kitchen floor. I cried and ordered Dominos when my friends arrived. Thankfully it wasn’t some culinary masterpiece or I would have really lost it.

    Reply

  46. The Teacher Cooks on August 12, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    I cannot begin to tell you the mistakes that I have made while cooking at home and at school. Just remember that cooking is just a scientific experiment!

    Reply

  47. Tom on August 13, 2010 at 12:16 am

    Not sure how good there are but here is something I saw online that might help to minimize those cleaning up baking spills in your oven http://www.shopgetorganized.com/item/non_stick_oven_liner/25399

    Reply

  48. Cheah on August 13, 2010 at 4:23 am

    I seldom buy cook books because I don’t trust their recipes, be it from whoever, or what celebratory chefs. I’ve had some disaster too, made the ‘kuih bangkit’, tapioca flour cookie which is our Chinese New Year item from our local newspaper cook column. The dough was so runny, can hardly be manhandled, had to add in plenty of flour to make it pliable, in the end, I just roll it out and cut with a cookie cutter. It was supposed to be a fairly firm dough to be inserted into the wooden moulds. After a few attempts and surfing the net, I finally concot my own recipe and posted it on my blog. I prefer to visit fellow bloggers’ blogs and choose on the recipes that I find interesting.

    Reply

  49. MissJillian on August 13, 2010 at 4:50 am

    Not that you need it, because you have a self-cleaning oven, but they sell liners you can put at the bottom of your oven just for easier cleanup for mishaps like this (or those pizza cheese drippings). Think they sell them at Bed Bath and Beyond and Target too. I love the one I have, since I tend to drip, and my oven is (unfortunately) not a self-cleaning one. One of the best Christmas presents I’ve gotten. :)

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  50. sana on August 13, 2010 at 5:46 am

    Now I know that I should have purchased a self cleaning oven instead :( When I got married I decided to bake a cake with a boxed mixed (even though I knew how to bake) and use my new microwave in its convection setting. Since my kitchen was new I didnt have baking pans and I decided to use microwave proof plastic containers (yeah I know, how dum was I?) Needless to say, 10 minutes later there was smoke in the kitchen and I ran to turn it off. The plastic had melted and the batter was everywhere. Luckily I had put in only half the batter, so I took the remaining to my neighbours house and baked it there. We all enjoyed the cake and had a good laugh!

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  51. Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef on August 13, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I have had a lot of baking disasters… but none that tops yours! I do not have a self-cleaning oven (one of the cons of apartment living), and some have been really messy.

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  52. Jackie on August 13, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Hi Michelle

    What products did you use to clean your oven.

    Reply

  53. Ashley on August 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Aw that really sucks. :( Hm worst kitchen disaster. Well one time I put these plastic molds for chocolate in the oven (don’t know why I would do that), then went to use the oven another day and the plastic melted everywhere. Though that was when I lived at home and was much younger and had my mom to save the day (and clean up the oven!)

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  54. Daydreamer Desserts on August 13, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Hi Michelle, long time fan here… @VinoLuci thought I should share my disaster with you: http://bit.ly/bqBx5M glad to hear it happens to even the BEST of us. :)

    Reply

  55. Jeff on August 13, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    Someone bought me that book for my birthday, how funny. Got to make them now.

    Reply

  56. mary jane on August 14, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Just wanted to tell you two of my flub ups! The first one was as a young mother, I was cooking eggs, for egg salad on toasted English muffins. Well, I was setting the table, getting things ready for hubby to come home, and realized I didn’t have the Eng. muffins! So, loaded up the two kids and headed for the store…12 miles away. You got it…the eggs boiled dry cuz i totally forgot they were on…and they exploded in the kitchen, all over the ceiling!! The pan was stuck to the stove, and had to be pitched once DH got home! Lesson learned.

    My other blunder was probably ten years later, I was making home made cinnamon rolls, and had the dough in the big green tupperware bowl, on the counter, and knew it would take at least an hour to rise. Well, ran the kids to their dance lessons, etc. and when I got home, two hours later, the lid was off the tupperware, the dough had risen out of the bowl, down the cupboards and onto the floor! heh heh. Oh, how we have to learn the lessons of home made cooking! ha

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  57. Ashley on August 14, 2010 at 9:45 am

    8th grade- making peanut butter blossoms and my super long hair somehow got in the path of the hand mixer and in the blink of an eye was sucked up with the dough into a beater. Luckily, my best friend was nearby to help me unwind my dough covered hair. Painful and yucky!

    Reply

  58. Jennifer on August 14, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    LOL OMG I have had some doozies in my short amount of time of cooking, I for one cant make a sugar cookie even if my life depended on it, slice and bake sugar cookies? forget about it they turn in to burnt hockey pucks everytime LOL. I have melted my favorite bowl in the oven because i forgot it was in there and was preheating the oven for dinner LOL, I have broken pyrex by using it under the broiler not knowing any better. Once I forgot to put baking soda and baking powder in my pumpkin ginger nut muffins even though i had made the recipe the day before and then when i realized what I had done I added it in the remaining batter and didnt bother sifting it EWWWWWWW. thankfully I have a self cleaning oven as well but im one of the few in my apt complex LOL.

    Reply

  59. sharon on August 15, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    I once made a “picture perfect” chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake. I’m not sure what it weighed, but it pretty well filled my 12 inch springform pan . As I was gingerly placing the pan into the preheated oven, I hit the top edge of the oven. Evidently the side and bottom were not seated together, because the bottom flew out like it was shot from a cannon. I didn’t know my oven had so many nooks and crannies. Needless to say, the self-cleaning did not take care of all the mess. Sure did smell good, though, when it hit all the coils, and shelves. Whenever I make a cheesecake now, you can bet your booties I check and double check to make sure the bottom is IN THERE.

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  60. Barbara on August 15, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    I, too, have blown up a couple of eggs left too long boiling on the stove. I was in the basement doing laundry, and totally forgot they were cooking. I heard what I thought were two gunshots (my husband is a police officer), and to this day, I don’t know why I ran IN THE DIRECTION of the gunfire, but as I hit the first landing, the unminstakable smell of the actual disaster overwhelmed me. There was egg stuck to every surface in the kitchen, including the window and the ceiling. I had no idea that two eggs could make such a mess. The smell lasted for days…..

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  61. liza on August 16, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I tired to make my favorite chocolate cake into cupcakes (very very similar to the Hershey’s one actually!) I don’t know if there is a rule about making cake into cupcakes or something but it never works out with that recipe and I tried twice! My mess looked very similar to yours, just not as bad. It boiled over the top and left no cake to the cup cake… I dont get it. Makes an awesome cake though.

    and: My stove top has a glass cover that closes on top of it. (well, it HAD one, I should say) I took a soup off of the fire, totally forgot about the flame that was on low, and closed the glass lid without turning off the flame. It was one of those absent-minded days I guess. I didn’t use my stove again until the next night- more then 24 hours later, so I only realized then. “omigosh! the flame has been on this whole time??” I quickly turned it off. 10 minutes later, there was a huge BOOM!! and the huge glass shattered into a bajillion pieces all over the place. nearly gave me a heart attack! I found glass everywhere for weeks and weeks after that.

    good times…… :D

    Reply

  62. Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes on August 16, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! I always share my baking disasters, it’s so important to show other people that sh*t happens – even at your level!

    Reply

  63. jen on August 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    I attempted a DIY kitchen remodel-but my cabinets fell off the wall after a few days, breaking most of my beloved Fiestaware. Ouch! I’m sure I’ve had a few baking/cooking disasters too, but that one was painful.

    Oh, and I’ve had a couple of not so great recipes from she who must not be named. I won’t make any of her recipes any more unless someone else has done a review. Methinks she really doesn’t test all of those recipes herself.

    Reply

  64. bridget {bake at 350} on August 18, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Hmmmm….I wonder who’s recipe that could be?!? Now I’m worried. I have a cupcake book on my shelf with recipes marked to try. Which ones should I stay away from exactly?!?

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  65. Meghann B on August 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    About a month ago, I had mixed an entire batch of cupcakes, not realizing that my oven wasn’t getting above 100oF. Without even looking, I tossed the tin into the oven and checked on them about 20 minutes later. Each one was still gooey in its individual cup. Damn. I checked the temp and of course, it was at 110oF. Are you kidding me?! My mom quickly suggested that I try tossing them on the grill, since it has the ability to get up to 375. So I did. When I took them out to cool, they looked great and I was soo happy that my icing would now have a home on top of these beautiful cupcakes… well… until I took them out of the tin. The inside of each cupcake was moist and fluffy, but only the inside. The outside of each cupcake was hard and burnt to the paper. Could this really be happening?! I improvised a bit and took a spoon to the middles. I scooped out the middles and tossed a dollop of icing on each one and they didn’t look too bad. They were like bite-sized cupcakes! Pheww! Next time, I’ll keep my eye on my oven to make sure it gets up to the optimal temp in order to turn my batter into delicious cake :)

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  66. becki c on August 22, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Years ago I was making strawberry jello. I was impatient with the “stir to dissolve” directions so decided to put it in my Tupperware shaker. I didn’t even get the top closed before the boiling red liquid exploded all over my kitchen–and my galley-style windows with their white curtains. We even found jello in the adjacent family room. Who knew 2 cups could go so far?

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  67. Kylee on August 26, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    making easter bowls made from chocolate – used a balloon to dip in the chocolate, let it cool and then pop the balloon – leaving the chocolate bowl.

    Well. I shouldn’t have been so impatient – and let the chocolate cool a little. No sooner did I dip my balloon – and set up upside down in a glass to cool… it popped. I was finding chocolate everywhere for MONTHS!!!

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  68. Jacob's Kitchen on August 26, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    I spent twelve months in New Mexico a few years back, taking care of my grandmother who was undergoing treatment for lung cancer (since my grandfather also has Alzheimer’s she needed help with him and for herself). Toward the end of the stay there we decided that we should throw a big BBQ for the cancer center staff and the many friends that we had made while spending so much time at the hospital. Now a BBQ for 60+ people might feel daunting to some people, but since I have done a lot of catering, it seemed like a fun weekend project. I decided to slow grill a lot of ribs, and meticulously basted and checked on them for 12 hours on a low 200 degree outside gas grill, which made them fabulously tender and delicious (I later browned them off and caramelized the sauce on them for about 20 minutes before serving). The day of the BBQ everything was ready, and all of our friends were mingling on the back deck (where the grill was) and around the back yard. As the time slowly approached to start eating, I lit the grill to cook off some chicken, and a few steaks (The New Mexicans are big meat eaters), and went inside to gather what I needed and to check on some food in the oven. About 5 minutes later I was summoned outside by some frantic guests, and I followed them to discover four foot flames coming from the grill, and a backyard filled with smoke and coughing people. It hadn’t even occurred to me that one would need to thoroughly clean the grill after 12 hours of slow cooking pork ribs… with grease dripping down into the bottom, near the flames. Oops! It was semi humiliating, but I extinguished the flames with as much decorum as I could muster, and finished off all of the food indoors instead. I tried to laugh the whole thing off, and everyone was pretty good about it (since the food itself still turned out to be delicious, if a little late to be served). We have certainly all been there. And hey, like Ina Garten always says, it isn’t a real barbecue until the fire department shows up! I think I too have had numerous failed recipes from the same unnamed popular multimedia mogul. Does no one test their recipes any more? Thanks for sharing! =)

    Reply

  69. Jami on November 7, 2010 at 11:58 am

    My best cooking screwup was when my best friend came over for curry one night. I’d joked earlier with her about the old bugs bunny cartoon with the witch and the green, foamy, sparkling poisons, and promised not to poison her.

    I was using the Japanese curry blocks, but accidentally added too much water. No big, I thought, I’ll just add some corn starch to thicken it up, easy nothing. Only problem? I grabbed the baking soda by mistake (Hey, they ARE about the same color, and we were chattering a biiiiit too much) and added that. It foamed up, green. Of course.

    Yeah. Never living THAT one down. XD

    Reply

  70. Izzy on April 29, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    My brother and I, our first attempt at making bread dough when we were younger, neither of us knew what yeast looked like so we grabbed what we though was the right stuff. Turns out it was mustard seed, and instead of making your dough rise, turns it into a concrete like mass!

    Reply

  71. Lisa on May 5, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Shortly after I got married, my husband was sent to Dallas to work for three months. Toward the end of his stint, I was making a cheesecake to take to work for our Christmas party (mind you, I was living in a rented townhouse!). The cheesecake overflowed into the oven and the stuff actually caught on FIRE! I called the fire department. Luckily, by that time, it was mostly smoke. However, while the fire department was still on the scene trying to blow the smoke out of the house, my husband called. We were having a normal conversation and then he asked who was talking. I said “don’t worry, it’s just the firemen!” Very memorable…

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  72. Kim on July 14, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I’ll start with a small humorous “oops”, and then give you my Pie Fail.

    Years ago, I was making funnel cakes for my son who thought it was pretty stupid that we only had them at the school carnival. Easy and fun to make and then dust them with powdered sugar. Done. Except that they weren’t very sweet, so I put on some more powdered sugar. And then some more. And yet another sprinkle. Then I realized it was cornstarch, which I kept in an identical Tupperware container right net to the powdered sugar. They have since divorced, citing irreconcilable tastes and live at opposite ends of my cabinet.

    Pie Fail – It was the first pecan pie I had every made (and was the last for at least 15 years), and I was taking it to a picnic hosted by our best friends on their farm outside Houston. I followed the recipe to the letter, but when it had finished the stated cooking time, it looked very runny. I cooked it about 10 more minutes and it was still runny. I kept leaving it in for 10-15 minutes at a time until I had a total baking time for that poor pie of 2.5 hours. Not knowing any better, off we went to the picnic with the pie in tow. Did you know that it is impossible to cut a pecan pie that has been baked for 2.5 hours? Neither can you smash it on the end of the picnic table to try breaking a piece off. When our friend gave up and tossed it into the corral for the horses, I thought that at least someone would enjoy my efforts. Not. The horses gave it a sniff and went into the barn.

    In my defense, don’t you think that if something will be runny when you’ve finished baking it, it should say so in the recipe?

    Reply

  73. Victoria on August 12, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I made some lovely chocolate chip cookies, and put them on a cookie sheet with a plastic baking mat on it. The baking process was smooth and flawless, but when I went to pull those suculent gooey lumps of paradise out of the ove I was too hasty and tilted the pan causing the mat with the coolies on it to slide back into the hot oven. I was then left with no cookies and a dirty oven.

    Reply

  74. LILA on August 16, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I was making merange for the top of a pie once and when i thout it was ready tp bake i put them in the oven…. i took them out and was like… WHAT THE?! They looked like cookies and tasted like eggs!!! disgusting! i think meranges hate me because i was making meriange spril cookies from _ _ _ _ Network Magazine and they did the same thing! uhhhhhhh

    Reply

  75. Nancy Paine on August 21, 2011 at 11:51 am

    After years of working as an interior designer at a national furniture store, I had collected many ideas for my dream kitchen, having visited many gorgeous kitchens on in-home calls. My husband and I had saved and planned for years, and finally moved into our dream home, which incorporated as many ideas I had gathered as we could afford, including a white kitchen with lovely white wallpaper, with delicate vines decorating it, and a lovely white raised fruit basket tile medallion behind the cooktop. Well, the second day we were in the house, I decided to make coffee milkshakes. Yes, I filled the blender rather full, of nice, dark coffee and ice cream and ice, and didn’t put the lid on tightly, nor did I hold that lid. Yes, we had coffee shakes sprayed everywhere, even raining from that pretty white ceiling! I stood there, and laughed! Kitchen: initiated! Yes, I got it all cleaned up, good as new, no stains, thankfully! Wish I had snapped a quick photo!

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  76. Joelle on February 3, 2012 at 12:51 am

    It wasn’t my fault… but it was horrible. I had just moved into a new apartment, and as a housewarming gift, a friend of mine gave me two giant zucchinis from her garden. So, I decided to make zucchini bread. I make the first load, and the batter is a little runny, but I had made it before and it’s always come out, but not this time. I could smell it well before the time was up and the top was getting too dark, but the center was still mushy. So gross. So, I decided I’d make it again and really drain that zucchini, but the same thing happened!! It wasn’t until I tried boiling something on the stove, and the burner wouldn’t get hot that I called my landlord. Turned out that he replaced all the dials, but put them on backwards, so when I thought I was cooking my bread at 350, it was probably more like 450. Ah-ha!

    Reply

  77. gal.s on February 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Ha, this might be late but i have a funny thing happened to me with soda stream…
    as soda stream clearly said that you need to use water only and then only put the syrups or anything… i said to myself, this must be wrong… i was wrong clearly.
    i putted nestea in the bottle started to push air into it, everything was JUST FINE!, now i started opening the bottle of the soda stream, and there we go! about 20ml was left in the bottle, all the kitchen ALL OF THE KITCHEN, fridge, stove, freezer, EVERYTHING was covered with bubbly sticky nestea… about 3 hours of cleaning and the kitchen was ALMOST back to normal…
    WARNING : DON’T MIX NESTEA IN THE SODA STREAM BOTTLE!

    Reply

  78. Pj on March 17, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I remember helping make a favorite winter dinner with my mom of ground beef with rice wrapped in cabbage leaves in a tomato sauce. It’s a Polish dish that she learned to make from neighbors when she was young. My mom used her pressure cooker on a gas stove top. Apparently this pressure cooker’s top was getting old and halfway through the cooking the valve blew off the top of the pot. Luckily the stove was in a butlers pantry and we were in the main kitchen area. She had to use a towel as a shield to get into the pantry to turn off the stove, then cover the top of the cooker with towels since hot tomato sauce was like a geyser erupting from the tiny spout spraying tomato sauce all over the paneled walls, wood cabinets, and white ceiling. After many cleanings and new ceiling paint, the pantry was back to normal.

    Reply

  79. Kat on August 13, 2013 at 12:58 am

    This story isn’t one where I necessarily had a recipe go seriously wrong but it still ended in a giant mess! One day while baking I carelessly tossed a plastic container onto the burner that the oven vents through. The stove top wasn’t on and I was preoccupied so I didn’t notice anything was wrong until I smelled burning plastic. I turned around to find a plastic puddle melting through the burner and down inside my oven. When I pulled my loaf from the oven it had a lovely plastic coating! Not only did I have to buy a new burner I spent the next week scraping plastic out of strange parts of my oven I had never seen before. The worst part was I couldn’t bake for a week until I was sure there was no plastic left!

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  80. Ruth on September 12, 2013 at 6:50 am

    This is hilarious. Found this site while surfing for icing recipes. Loved reading everyone’s stories. Here’s a few of mine:
    The “first cooking” experience that got me stuck on cooking (due to mom’s great handling). 9 1/2 (I wrote it down) and I burned my finger by slipping it forward while making panckes.
    2. Salt instead of sugar in muffins. I was so sad they got thrown away. (I still can’t stand throwing anything away that is in any way (or not) salvageable.)
    3. The pecan pie, yes, pecans got black, but it wasn’t ruined. Thankfully dad’s insightful “I’ve eaten so many pecan pies I know how it works” was true. leave the pie runny.
    4. Most hilarious moment ever (at the time) Don’t microwave-boil an egg. Doesn’t work. End of microwave. Brother (who is never startled) jumped about a foot in the air. Duh. Water + egg – stove does NOT equal boiled egg.
    5. Worst stroke of genius: I had one of those hard plastic “disposable” holiday bowls. (Did I mention I don’t like throwing “useful” things away?) In apartment by myself. Put proofing yeast in ‘warm place': next to a pot of starting-to-boil water. Run to trash can. (No seriously – it did only take two minutes.) I came back to a 18 inch (or so) flame on the stove. Plastic bowl gone, water in bowl no use. Threw bowl in sink and turned on water. Opened windows, doors, everything. Black, sticky plastic soot was EVERYWHERE. Under the couch. In the bedroom, in the cabinets. I cleaned it up as best I could, but I still left some on the very top of the cabinets when I moved out, I’m pretty sure. that or it was part of the wood grain. ;)
    6. And yes, I have joined the club of ice-water-in-the-fresh-from-the-oven-glass-pan. Awesome. Thankfully mine was already in the sink so was relatively easy clean-up.

    Reply

  81. Lucy on January 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I was just reading your older posts and found this one about a recipe gone really bad. Before Christmas this year I purchased the devils food bundt cake mix along with a rose shaped bundt pan from Williams and Sonoma, I thought that would be a really nice desert for Christmas, something super fancy to impress may family that also tasted yummy and chocolately. Late Christmas Eve I decided to make it so that my oven would be free for my turkey Christmas day. I followed the directions completely, did every thing they said, everything. I checked the cake 10 minutes before it was to be done just to make sure it wasn’t cooking faster in my oven. The cake was all jiggly just like it was when I first put it in the oven. When the cake was to be “done” according to the directions, it was still all jiggly. I decided to give it an additional 5 minutes, then another 10 minutes. After that it looked like it was getting really browned on the edges but the center was still obviously not cooked. When it first came out of the oven it was nice and high. I thought maybe after resting the jiggly center would turn a fudgy consistancy. Several minutes later when I returned to the kitchen, the cake had lost all it’s pouf and had sunk down to about 4 inches high. I was so mad and upset because this is the only recipe I planned for Christmas and that mix was not cheap. I turned the cake out onto a cooling rake and just shook my head, I realized the only place this cake belonged was in the trash. Several days ago I called Williams and Sonoma and told them about my experience, to my surprise they refunded me for the purchase price of the mix, even without a receipt. I keep thinking about that cake mix, some strange part of my brain wants to try it again, it hurt my baking ego or something. :) I’ve never had that happen before so it is good to hear of others that have had similar experiences, thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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