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A Brownie Mishap and a Giveaway! (closed)

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Brownies are probably the most difficult baked good to determine the doneness of. They’re very dark in color, so you can’t look for tell-tale signs of browning. Most recipes are also intended to produce brownies that are fudgy and they’re supposed to be very moist in the center even when they are ready. Brownies are also very easy to make and are the kind of thing that an experienced baker shouldn’t have a problem with. One of my most embarrassing kitchen mishaps involved a simple batch of brownies – and one very unreliable oven.

This was my parents’ motto as I was growing up was “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Generally speaking, it served them very well – and continues to serve me well. We often replace things – large and small – long before they need replacing. But it is also true that sometimes this philosophy can lead you to hang on to things much longer than you should, and that definitely was true for the appliances in the kitchen I learned to cook in.

I don’t know exactly how old the appliances were, but I do remember when they started to break down. The oven – my favorite appliance – was my biggest problem. The thermometer lost accuracy over time and the oven started to run 20-50 degrees hotter than it should. I started to use an oven thermometer, but it could be difficult to check at a glance. The timer was the next element to go, so I often tried to bake by the clock if I didn’t have another timer handy. As you can imagine, an oven with a faulty thermometer and no timer meant that I needed to stand near the oven and do my best to keep an eye on whatever I was baking to try to make sure it didn’t over bake.

Brownies were undoubtedly one of the worst things to try to bake because there are so few visual clues from a batch and you really have to go by the baking time for guidance. One day, we invited our new neighbors over for a get-to-know-you barbecue and I decided to whip up a quick batch of brownies to serve along with some ice cream and fresh berries. I mixed up the batter, put the brownies in the oven – and then made the mistake of stepping out of the room for a few minutes. Before I knew it, I had completely lost track of how long the brownies had been in the oven. I had compensated for the oven thermometer by turning the temperature down by about 30 degrees and figured that I could just estimate when the brownies would be done.

To make a long story short, that was the day that the oven decided to run relatively accurately – and I was baking my brownies in an oven that was much too cool for the first 30 minutes or so. When I checked them for doneness, I found a pan of raw batter. I turned up the temperature a few degrees and the oven shot up by about 80 degrees. The brownies went from under baked to burned in a small window – and what was supposed to be a simple, foolproof recipe that I could put together quickly for our new neighbors turned into a small disaster that made the kitchen smell like burning chocolate for the rest of the night.

We ended up eating just ice cream with our neighbors, and my parents decided that it might be a good idea for them to invest in a new oven.

I learned to be a better baker because of that oven, but for years I also forgot how amazing it is to have an appliance that actually makes life easier rather than harder. My “trusty” old oven, which got me through a lot of holiday baking over the years in spite of its flaws, has now been replaced with a much newer range. Not only does it have an accurate internal thermometer, it has a convection feature and a fantastic array of burners on the range top. My favorite feature is the oven drawer, located beneath the oven that is a mini oven with a full 140-450F range. I really appreciate it when I am doing a lot of baking, since my kitchen was never set up to accommodate two full size ovens.

It took me a long time to trust the new oven’s built-in thermometer and timers after putting up with my old oven for so long, but I definitely appreciate them every time I go to preheat the oven. I also realized that even though things aren’t “broke” (since my old oven continued to function right up until the very end, 20+ years later), that doesn’t mean that you can’t at least take a look around and see what else is out there. New technology can inspire you to do even more in the kitchen because it helps you see how easy things can be, and struggling with old tools and appliances can sometimes make you lose sight of that.

To see what new technology is out there, and to get an idea of what some shiny new GE Appliances could do for your kitchen, visit GE Appliances’ virtual Kitchen Reimagined. It just might give you a little wakeup call if you, like me, were struggling with appliances that barely got the job done. GE Appliances spends countless hours studying consumer insights about appliances – looking to improve the design and functionality of each one.


To inspire you even more, we’re giving away a $100 Visa gift card to one of Baking Bites’ readers that you can spend on anything you want (or save towards that new appliance). To enter the giveaway, answer the following question in the comments: If your kitchen could study you, what would it learn?

Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.


The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 08/23/13-09/29/13.

Be sure to visit the GE Appliances Brand Page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

Share this article

  • Maggie
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I don’t use it enough/properly. I tend to go in spurts where I’m doing a lot of cooking at home, and then long droughts where I order in, or go out, or bring home leftovers from wherever.

  • Danielle
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would ask why, with all the space, do I choose to use the same 5 feet for everything?! It’s just the center of the hub and I can reach everything from there. I do feel like I waste a lot of the space in there though.

  • Sarah H.P.
    August 23, 2013

    If my kitchen could study me, it would learn that I am very organizes and detail-oriented and love to eat sweets!

  • Erin Greenfield
    August 23, 2013

    Always clean as you go. Makes for less work in the end

  • leanne
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that a lot of our meals consist of pulling out random bits and pieces from the fridge and turning it into dinner – salads, soups, stir frys, and sometimes just an assortment of “small plates”. The freezer would probably blab about how often I go in for just a bite of ice cream, or to grab a cookie, or sometimes a frozen brownie. It would probably leave out the fact that I also leave it full of frozen fruit for smoothies. And, it would probably learn that our cat is sneaky at jumping up on the counter and licking the plates if we’re not good about putting everything away.

  • Amanda W
    August 23, 2013

    That I’m lazy when it comes to cooking.

  • carrie
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I can’t cook anything without a recipe.

  • Eva @ Eva Bakes
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that even though I’ve read and re-read a recipe multiple times, that I can sometimes still miss ingredients or critical steps (things usually turn out well though). Also, I tend to clean as I go because I hate a messy kitchen.

  • Molly
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that although it’s served me decently for 6 years so far, I could use a bigger kitchen!

  • kristin
    August 23, 2013

    my kitchen would learn that i like to multitask and that I like to drink wine while i cook.

  • Karen
    August 23, 2013

    It would find that I’m resistant to spending a lot of money, and like yourself, “it it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The existing appliances are 18 years old; nothing fancy, but certainly functional.

  • Jenny
    August 23, 2013

    It’d figure out just how much of a sweet tooth I really have

  • Sharon
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn not to sweat the small stuff.

  • Chatelaine
    August 23, 2013

    I was baking a lot the past few years and knew my oven so well. We got a new one, and we’re still getting to know each other. Nothing has come out the same twice so we’re still in the early stages of our relationship – yes a baker and their tools have relationships don’t they?

  • Donna R
    August 23, 2013

    My Kitchen would learn that it is OK to take chances, that not all things need to be measured in order for the outcome to be great! 🙂

  • Tegan
    August 23, 2013

    I dream of the day when I can have a gas stove again.

  • Allie B.
    August 23, 2013

    If my kitchen could study it would learn to tell the temperature of the water coming out of the faucets…It’s never the same twice with the same setting of the control!

  • Mami2jcn
    August 23, 2013

    It would learn that I’m not much of a cook!

  • Shawn
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I love to cook, but am stuck in a rut, also with an oven that is not reliable.

  • Mami2jcn
    August 23, 2013


  • Elena
    August 23, 2013

    That I like cooking from scratch and use natural ingredients

  • Cori
    August 23, 2013

    To clean as you go!

  • Rachel
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I’m kind of lazy about cleaning and that I hate hand washing dishes!

  • Katie
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I use way too many pots, pans and utensils when I cook!

  • Jane
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would stop telling me to sneak a cookie from the freezer every time I walk in to get a glass of water.

  • Jessica To
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I don’t spend enough time in it – either cooking or cleaning it!

  • Kelly
    August 23, 2013

    my kitchen would learn that I make the same things over and over again

  • Marilyn
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would tell me that I’m a TOTAL IDIOT for keeping and trying to bake in a 2 year old oven that has never worked with any sense of reliability.

  • Bianca @ sweet dreaming
    August 23, 2013

    my kitchen would learn that i sample a LOT 😉

  • Lynnea
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would observe the odd feeding rituals of the biology graduate student where dinner is equally as likely to be a bowl of cereal as homemade bread, a fresh tri-tip roast and coconut macaroons for dessert. Just depends how lab work went that day.

  • Chewthefat
    August 23, 2013

    It’s nice to know you are human, regarding the brownie mishap!

    My kitchen would learn that I have no self-control when it comes to eating ingredients!

  • Christy Spurlock
    August 23, 2013

    $100 would allow me to update some of my kitchen appliances.

  • lisa
    August 23, 2013

    I love to cook from scratch but I’m always looking for short cuts.

  • Maureen
    August 23, 2013

    I have to keep busy. I like to learn. I hate to clean but do it anyway because I hate messes.

  • gina s
    August 23, 2013

    i dream of a new microwave mines is old

  • Kelsi
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I need counter space and a dish washer.

  • Kristen Baer
    August 23, 2013

    I never follow a recipe exactly – each time I make a recipe I alter or substitute but it always seems to compliment the dish of the day perfectly. Unfortunately it makes it hard for recipe seekers to make a dish they’ve sampled as any recipe request usually is followed by a laundry list of possible variations 🙂

  • Marcia
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I am sick and tired of it’s old floor and cabinets!

  • Nataly Carbonell
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn all the recipes

  • Amy L
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I like to bake much more than I like to cook.

  • Kelli
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that patience is something I strive to maintain…but don’t always succeed in doing.

  • Carole R.
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would BEG for more space.

  • Darla
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would know that it is my favorite room in the house and that I spend most of my time there!

  • Wehaf
    August 23, 2013

    That I hate over-the-range microwaves.

  • Katie
    August 23, 2013

    My kitchen would ask me why I can’t, try as I might, train my cat not to jump on the counter!

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