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 while I’m messy when I’m cooking but I clean the kitchen when I’m done because I hate a messy kitchen.

  2. My kitchen would learn that I love to experiment with flavors, sometimes too much, and that I “taste test” a little too much in the process of baking :)

  3. My kitchen would learn that I need to work on my patience and timing. I always want anything on the stovetop to cook faster than it does because I am hungry for dinner. And I start baking things way too late in the evening because I don’t factor realistic time for things like prep,clean-up and cooling and think only of the cooking time and that I’ll just whip this out before bed but I end up staying up later than I should.

  4. Mine would learn that i’m never patient enough to wait to eat until a meal is fully put together, i’m always snacking!

  5. My kitchen would learn that I’m tired of our old, small, side-by-side fridge/freezer and am ready for something new and spacious!

  6. My kitchen would learn that I’m not *too* much of a germaphobe…and that I love the simple things.

  7. My kitchen would learn that I would bake 24/7 if I could.

  8. My kitchen would learn that I make too many deserts to eat on my own, so I have to take them other places to share. If all the people I share my deserts with came over they wouldn’t all fit into my tiny little kitchen!

  9. https://twitter.com/Katetryit/status/371561878398332929

    Yo, I could always use new kitchen stuff! My kitchen has so much more to learn! #SweepstakesEntry http://t.co/sILUUVrPqt— Kate (@Katetryit) August 25, 2013

  10. My kitchen would learn that I habitually over-buy produce at the farmer’s market. I just can’t help myself!

  11. My kitchen has learned that during the week it’s not always treated or used as it would like. But on the weekends my 7yo and 9 yo daughters enjoy every part of it and the gadgets we have to cook and bake. And it would enjoy entertaining our family as much as we do on Sunday’s. it would especially love the way we clean it up and restock it on Sunday’s to get through the long 5 days inbetween.

  12. My Tweet: https://twitter.com/CherylinMass/status/371658889122430976
    My Blog Post: http://kitchentoysmakecookingfun.blogspot.com/2013/08/from-time-to-time-ill-be-sharing-some.html

    If my kitchen could study me, it would learn that I cook with love, I cook for family, friends & love to teach what I know about cooking & pass on recipes that were passed on to me. I created a blog just to share this passion with anyone who wants to learn. My kitchen is the center of the universe in my home, it’s where everyone gathers for celebrations & get togethers.

  13. My kitchen would learn that we’re a good fit, but my kitchen is too small for my boyfriend. We’ll do better when we can move the washer to a separate laundry room and extend the counter and cabinets into that space and when we scootch the fridge over to make room for a dishwasher.

  14. Tammy Harrington

    My kitchen would learn that I love experimenting with recipes to make them just perfect for my family of 7

  15. My kitchen would learn that I use up all the dishes in my kitchen to make meals and that I need to clean them up between breaks.

  16. It would learn I have zero sense of timing…I can never get a dinner to cook at the same time. Something always finishes first and I always manage to overcook something.

  17. My kitchen would learn that I spend more time in “it” than in any other room in our house — that I love to bake and I need to clean as I go while cooking or I begin to feel overwhelmed!

  18. My kitchen would learn that I LOVE to cook and bake, but I cook much more often because I’m not as afraid to experiment with cooking as I am with baking.

  19. My kitchen would learn that I have complete cooking ADD unless I take the time to measure everything before I so much as turn on the oven.

  20. My kitchen would learn that I have grown to love cooking over the last ten years in this home (though I still prefer to bake), and that the best thing about cooking is sharing it with others.

  21. My kitchen would learn that I am a risk taker.i don’t always follow recipes. I hate to sift and rarely level off ingredients after I measure them. Haven’t messed up yet!

  22. It would learn that I eat a lot.

  23. my kitchen would learn that i’m a very messy baker

  24. If my kitchen could study me, it would learn that I much prefer baking over doing dishes, and almost always leave them for my hubby to wash.

  25. I wish my kitchen had a self cook/self clean button!

  26. A lot of new swear words.

  27. My kitchen would learn the importance of having a good variety of ingredients!

  28. My kitchen would learn that I prefer to bake.

  29. My kitchen would learn how i believe it is physically impossible to NOT get cocoa powder everywhere, no matter what, when I need to measure it for a recipe!

  30. My kitchen would learn that even though it is small it can fit quite a bit of items. You can never have enough kitchen items!

  31. My kitchen would learn that I am both OCD and a complete slob. For example, all my surfaces must be clean before I can cook/bake. However, if you open my kitchen cupboards, they are a complete mess!

  32. that I am incapable of following a recipe, I always change something.

  33. My kitchen would learn all the wonderful tricks my mom taught me.

  34. My kitchen would learn how much I wish I could spend more time in it. That I avoid it for days on end because I have to work 2 jobs and eat on the run, and not because I dont like it.

  35. My kitchen would learn that recipes are more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules… ;)

  36. My kitchen would learn that I’m actually in charge!

  37. My kitchen would learn that I can’t clean an oven worth a dang!

  38. My kitchen would learn how much I long for one of those futuristic 1950s kitchens with a robot. ;)

  39. my kitchen would learn that there’s not enough counter space for everything.

  40. That I’m incredibly fickle. I have bursts of intensity and focus followed by bouts of laziness and apathy when it comes to nearly everything.

  41. My kitchen would learn that I take frequent coffee breaks!

  42. It would learn that I am pretty ambitious, but I can’t achieve most of what I want to do in there.

  43. My kitchen would learn I have a great collection of recipes.
    tcarolinep at gmail dot com

  44. -https://twitter.com/tcarolinep/status/372934655780990976

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