Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Baking Bloopers - When it all goes wrong

So normally on a Tuesday I would be posting my weekly Great British Bake Off inspired recipe, but that's not the case today. It's not that I haven't baked anything, but actually I had real trouble getting any decent, appetising photos of what I made this week. I've moved into my student flat at uni, and unfortunately the lighting in the kitchen is terrible- I can't even see if the dishes are clean when I'm washing up, let alone get fancy food photography looking good! The other reason for not posting my bake this week is that it looked rubbish anyway- even all the lighting in the world couldn't have saved this one. In a moment of madness, I decided I'd attempt gluten-free choux pastry and make chocolate ├ęclairs. They ended up as 'Choux Pastry Mess' - I'd like to thank the creator of the Eton Mess for making it acceptable to just chuck everything in a glass and claim it's a dessert. My Choux Pastry Messes were broken up pieces of pastry, whipped cream with a hint of vanilla extract and a drizzle of melted milk chocolate all served in a wine glass. My housemates said they were lovely, and they did actually taste pretty good!

Now I like to think my blog encourages the 'have-a-go' attitude and so it would have been dishonest to simply decide not to mention my bake this week. Instead I'm holding my hands up and admitting that I often have baking disasters and I'm totally ok with that! Therefore this week's post is dedicated to sharing my 'Baking Bloopers'...

Choux Pastry Mess

To be honest, this bake wasn't going too disastrously until it came to piping out the mixture. My kitchen is rather basically equipped (although we do own two milk frothers) and my 'piping bag' was actually a freezer bag with the corner cut off. Except I'd not even managed to do that very well, and had two holes rather than one. So rather than piping neat, even lines of dough mixture, this happened. And then they got a little bit stuck to the baking tray despite lots of greasing with butter. I can't even really say that shoving it all in a wine glass improved the appearance all that much...

This one photographed rather well- in reality it looked a bit of a state! I can't remember it tasting bad, but it was very crumbly in places and I think the decoration on the top might have been a bit of a cover-up affair. The chocolate icing was far too runny though and you can see it pooling underneath the cooling rack, hence the plate being positioned to catch it all. This was a joint effort with my sister, but I don't think either of us was feeling particularly artistic when it came to decorating and we just chucked anything we could reach on top of the cake.

First of all- I did not bake any of this! It was my first, and last, attempt at constructing anything from Ikea. I've always loved the idea of gingerbread houses and when mum bought me this one during a trip to Ikea I was so keen to try and make it. I used nearly an entire box of icing sugar trying to get the consistency right, but still could not get it all to stick together and stand up. I admire anyone who has the patience for these- I just let it all collapse, artfully drizzled the icing sugar all over and chucked coloured sprinkles everywhere. The upside to this was that there was none of the guilt associated with taking it to pieces to eat it.

This was an Earl Grey and Chocolate Torte baked at midnight during my second year of uni. Everyone else was out, so my friend and I attempted to tick this off the 'Baking Bucket List' pinned in the kitchen. Unfortunately it collapsed and broke the minute we tried to take it out of the tin- two plates and two spatulas surrounding a freshly baked cake is never a good sign! (I think it tasted lovely though!)

Sorry for the particularly bad quality of these photos, but I think I was laughing far too hard at this disaster to be able to get a good shot! After a lot of searching around the supermarkets for the right ingredients, this lemon polenta cake was a massive let down! I must have got a calculation wrong somewhere, because this was completely awful. The top was burnt. The edges cooked fine and had a great texture and flavour, but the inside was raw. Like, liquid raw. I salvaged a few slices before chucking the rest of the cake in the bin. My grandad was highly amused by this, but I've never dared attempt this cake again! The next day though, mum did buy me a giant bag of cornmeal so I could give it another go- so maybe when I've got over the shame of producing this I'll try it a second time round.

I may be being a bit cheeky in including this one, because I'm not entirely sure I was actually involved in making this. I should probably just say I wasn't! This was one of the very first things we baked in our first student house at the start of second year. If you can't tell, it's brownies. I can just remember us all crying with laughter as we scraped burnt brownie off the tin. What's worse though is that somehow it got all over the oven, but no one cleaned it off. It was only when it got to the end of the year that it had to be sorted out in order to get our deposit back...

And finally my Chocolate Swiss Roll. My first GBBO Inspired bake was a traditional swiss roll and I was so impressed with how it turned out, I gave it another go the next day with a chocolate sponge. Unfortunately I was a bit over-confident and this was my downfall- resulting in this sorry looking pile of sponge and cream. 

So as you can see, baking isn't all pretty cupcakes and perfectly plaited bread- and sometimes the messiest products are still tasty! What's been your biggest baking, or cooking, disaster?



  1. I'm laughing so much at the "first, and last, attempt at constructing anything from Ikea" comment, as if they give out gingerbread houses as practice for flat park furniture (if it's a consolation I think furniture is easier!).
    Great post Jennifer, totally owning your mistakes here!

    1. P. S I'd have eaten the hell out of your choux pastry mess!

    2. Haha, well anything is easier than gingerbread house construction I think- even real houses, let alone flat pack furniture! And yes, the choux pastry mess went down very quickly in my house...

  2. Haha oh no! At least the choux pastry mess tasted good, I mean it all ends up in your stomach anyway right? I don't bake much so I can't think of that many baking disasters I've had.

    1. Exactly! Ahh, well don't let disasters ever put you off doing a bit of baking :)

  3. The chocolate cake and swiss roll look amazing! I would definitely eat them no matter what!

    Amy at Amy & More

    1. They both tasted absolutely fine- I just need to come up with ways to explain the presentation!

  4. I love the honesty in this post! Even the best of bakers are fallible! I'd still happily munch on everything! Xxx

    Alice Adores Apparel


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