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!


  1. My kitchen would learn that I use a lot of unnecessary bowls and pans when I cook and generally make a mess. :)

  2. Alanna Jean Migliacci

    That I need to learn to follow the recipe the first time and then make adjustments. I am not a good enough cook to adjust a recipe before I know how it turns out.

  3. It would learn that I like to collect gadgets to fill her up! (and that I procrastinate clean up….) :))

  4. My kitchen would learn that I am a neat freak and germ a phob.

  5. my kitchen would learn that I would rather bake sweets than cook meals

  6. My kitchen would find me OCD about cleanliness, but be happy about it! It would also wish it could try all of the awesome things I cook–I treat my kitchen right, it treats me right!

  7. My kitchen would report that I love recreational baking more than cooking, I struggle with weekday dinners, but enjoy weekend cooking when it is combined with entertaining.

  8. It would learn that the number of bowls and utensils that I use and the mess that I make increases exponentially with each extra ingredient a recipe requires…

  9. My kitchen would learn that while I have a massive amount of cookbooks, 99% of the meals made in there are not from those pages.

  10. My kitchen would learn that while I’m a neat freak normally, I am an absolute slob when I cook!

  11. My kitchen would learn that I obsessively clean up before, after, and during cooking, and I also sneak in too many tastes as I go!

  12. It would learn that I don’t cook as much as I used to.

  13. That I need to learn to clean as I go.

  14. my kitchen would learn I am a minimalist: I must have all small appliances put way, out of sight, and off the countertops.
    jslbrown_03 at yahoo dot com

  15. My kitchen would learn that I don’t clean it enough!

  16. My kitchen would learn that I really shouldn’t bake that batch of muffins before my first cup of coffee.

  17. My kitchen would learn that I am nervous about the outcome and it needs to give me reassurance that the cookies/cake/pie/whatever is supposed to look how it does! ;)

  18. My kitchen would learn that about 8 months ago I stopped baking nearly as often and started cooking more, so it would probably accurately conclude that I got a lot healthier.

  19. That by the time cookies gets to the oven, there are a few less cookies because I have snacked my way thru a few too many bites of the dough!

  20. My kitchen would learn that I am crazy about the cups and dishes being organized.

  21. My kitchen would learn that I use it all of the time.

  22. My kitchen would learn that I love baking above all else in the kitchen but I’m trying to be a better cook. It would learn I like order and being able to put my hands on what I want when I want it when baking or cooking. It would learn that I’m driving by my baking Muse when determining what to bake…and what ingredients need to be used up in the kitchen.

  23. My kitchen would learn about how I like to try new things, and how attached I get to my favorites. It would be shocked at the amount of baked goods I enjoy.

  24. My kitchen would learn that I’m a pretty tidy cook and that I whistle while I cook too :)

  25. It would learn that I need to make more efficient use of the little space I have.

  26. it would learn that my kids eat a ton of food and need to start picking up after themselves ! :)

  27. If my kitchen could study me it would learn that I am a terrible cook who dislikes cooking most of the time :) And, as the dishes pile up on it’s counters, that I’m not a fan of doing the dishes either! My kitchen would become fast friends with my husband, who does most of the cooking and dish work and who is also very good at both :)

  28. My kitchen would learn that when I bake, I’m very precise with measuring some things, but just guessimate for others!

  29. Ah if only these walls could talk; they would tell you that they have learned that with this cooking thing it’s a try, try and try again enterprise.

  30. My kitchen would learn that I feel sorry for it! The person who designed the layout had no interest in cooking or work-flow, and while there are lots of cabinets, there is very little counter space. In addition, the walls and flooring are light blue; not the most flattering color for food.

  31. It would learn that I clean up as I go along

  32. My kitchen would learn that I’m pretty messy but will clean up as I go. Except the floor. Oh, and that I’d like it to be bigger. ;-)

  33. It would see that I don’t always measure when I bake!!

  34. That I don’t clean it often enough.

  35. My kitchen would tell me to slow down that I do things too fast and have unnecessary spills. It would also learn that I am not organized and would organize everything for me

  36. My kitchen would learn that I am forgetful and often forget about things once I bake them!

  37. My kitchen would learn that I should be more organized

  38. My kitchen would learn that I love baking sweets!

  39. I need to learn to follow directions and not to rush! I am terrible about rushing!

  40. My kitchen would learn the dirty little secret that i have been hiding from it. It would learn that for the last 15 years i have been “seeing” other kitchens. I yearn for the day that i will own a “bakers” kitchen.
    Such is LIFE!

  41. My kitchen would learn that I love to experiment with different add ins when making brownies, cookies and cupcakes.

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