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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

  • Jackie
    August 28, 2013

    It would learn speed.

  • Robin
    August 28, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I I love to cook and bake but I hate doing dishes and cleaning the floors.

  • shana
    August 29, 2013

    My kitchen would learn to do all the cleaning for me! Forget thus everyday clean up thing!! 🙂

  • Natalie
    August 29, 2013

    My kitchen would know I love to bake, but I do not enjoy cooking meat.

  • Nancy
    August 29, 2013

    My very small kitchen would learn there is a space and/or container for everything.

  • Melody Mosley
    August 29, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I am distracted while cooking and would automatically turn things down before they boil/flow over. 🙂

  • Louis
    August 29, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I make great salads and omelettes.

  • Meryl
    August 29, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I make great baked desserts, in spite of the very small space.

  • Elizabeth K
    August 29, 2013

    It would learn to cater to all the needs of a family with very different tastes!

  • Tricia Z
    August 30, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that it needs to be expanded!

  • Diane M
    September 1, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I can’t judge the doneness of brownies either!

  • Debbie B
    September 1, 2013

    my kitchen would learn that I don’t really enjoy cooking very much!

  • Debbie B
    September 1, 2013

    i tweeted here: https://twitter.com/bellows22/status/374204871961894914

    September 1, 2013

    My kitchen would learn its amazing I get anything done given the fact I have two young sons who like to cause chaos when I cook.

  • Natalie J Vandenberghe
    September 1, 2013

    My kitchen would learn what inspires me and the foods that bring me the most satisfaction–either by the memories they invoke, the gratitude I receive from my family, or simply the delight I get from consuming something delicious. Most of all, my kitchen would know how grateful I am for the many blessings I’ve received.

  • Natalie J Vandenberghe
    September 1, 2013

    Tweet! https://twitter.com/lexiquin/status/374370060174782465

  • Nick @ Bakingbeardy
    September 2, 2013

    It’d learn that while it’s always going, so am I!

  • Grace
    September 2, 2013

    My kitchen will learn that i love to see ppl eat my cooking and enjoy it!

  • rachel
    September 3, 2013

    That I’m very grateful for an easy-to-clean electric stovetop. I didn’t think I’d like it but I actually LOVE it. I was never great at cleaning out my gas-top grates.

  • Wild Orchid
    September 5, 2013

    If my kitchen studied me it would learn that I am NOT good about cleaning the fridge out often enough!

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    wildorchid985 at gmail dot com

  • Wild Orchid
    September 5, 2013


  • Jane C.
    September 6, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I love to bake, dislike cleaning up afterward (though I like it to be clean), and despite all the salmonella warnings, I always lick the spoon and bowl after baking cookies or cakes.

  • Brandon Schuller
    September 6, 2013


    My kitchen would tell me that I need to spend more time with it and learn to cook.

  • Anna Pry
    September 7, 2013

    it would learn that i enjoy cooking but not cleaning up the mess afterwards

  • Anna Pry
    September 7, 2013

    i tweeted https://twitter.com/pryfamily5/status/376306433815375873

  • tammigirl
    September 8, 2013

    It would learn that while I don’t enjoy the drudgery of day to day cooking, I do whip up a really nice meal and my real passion is baking.

  • Debra Ford
    September 8, 2013

    My kitchen would understand my passion for cooking and trying new recipes

  • Kerry
    September 10, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I’m a bit of a slob!

  • LAMusing
    September 11, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that it needs to give me more counter space!

  • Norma
    September 11, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that at 82 I don’t really cook anymore.

  • suburbancorrespondent
    September 13, 2013

    I think it would learn how to call the local pizza place with the $7.99 1-topping carry-out special…

  • Mary Ellen
    September 14, 2013

    It would learn that I am so over cooking dinner, but love to bake.

  • Amanda
    September 14, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I love to bake (and sometimes cook), but that I hate to clean!

  • Gwen
    September 14, 2013

    it would learn it’s my favorite room of the house!

  • Lori C
    September 14, 2013

    My kitchen would learn that I may not always succeed but that I try, try, try.

  • Lori C
    September 14, 2013

    I tweeted: https://twitter.com/ladcraig/status/379075584539623425

  • steff
    September 15, 2013

    it would learn i like to try new recipes!

  • Erika
    September 16, 2013

    It would learn that, with two little kids, I need all the ease and quickness in the kitchen I can get! 🙂


  • Neiddy
    September 20, 2013

    If my kitchen could study me it would learn that I make soup once a week not because of my lack of creativity but because my family loves it

  • Erica Best
    September 21, 2013

    that i love trying new recipes

  • Janice Cooper
    September 22, 2013

    That I’m a lazy cook and need to do a deep cleaning more often

  • Amber
    September 23, 2013

    My kitchen would learn how to make great cupcakes!

  • Nicole Larsen
    September 23, 2013

    HAHA–it would learn that I absolutely despise cooking and baking lol!

  • Nicole Larsen
    September 23, 2013

    tweeted https://twitter.com/pittsy82/status/382345357230759936

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