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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

My Worst Cooking/Baking Fail Ever: Whole Wheat Brick

It was mentioned in the comments last week that doing a post on our worst cooking or baking fails might be fun. So, I'll share mine, and you can add yours in the comments. 

I was 19 and sharing a house with two girlfriends for the summer, while we all did local farm and cannery work. (I know, I used to live such a glamorous life. Aren't you envious?!) My roommates worked the day shift driving combines while I worked 3rd shift (overnight) packaging asparagus. My sense of time was askew all summer long. I slept in the day and was up all night. I did my grocery shopping literally at the crack of dawn, after my shift ended. On my days (nights) off, I was often at a loss for something to do. If I tried to sleep during the night, it would throw me off for my next shift. So, I just stayed awake on my nights off, reading, playing solitaire (with actual cards), going to the 24/7 laundromat in town, going for midnight bike rides, and baking or cooking.

One night, I had a thought to try baking yeast bread. I'd never baked yeast bread before, but had baked a lot of biscuits, cookies, and cakes growing up. I went to the grocery store and bought a small bag of whole wheat flour and yeast. It was around 3 AM when I came home, and my roomies were sound asleep.

Being young, stupid, and impatient, I thought something like this, "oh, you don't need to really follow these instructions to make bread. I'll just mix up the dough and bake it." I used all whole wheat flour and didn't knead the dough at all. I don't think I even knew what kneading bread dough looked like. I just stirred together the flour, water, sugar, salt, butter, and yeast, then plopped it all into a loaf pan. The recipe on the bag of flour said that this made 2 loaves. We only had one loaf pan. So into the single loaf pan that dough went. I didn't allow the dough to rise, instead I popped it into the oven as soon as the oven was hot.

I decided to lie down on the sofa and listen to some music, quietly, while my bread baked. Our range was really old and didn't have a timer function. So, we'd have to keep an eye on anything we were cooking. I bet you can see where I'm going here. I fell asleep, and the next thing I knew my roommate was yelling at me to wake up, saying that the house smelled like smoke. (no smoke detectors in those days) I was able to retrieve my blackening brick of whole wheat from the smoky oven. Was that thing ever a brick! It was not sliceable. It was not at all salvageable. I did learn a lesson on following instructions. I wouldn't try making yeast bread again for another 9 years after that disaster.

This was the one cooking/baking that I would give myself a grade of a complete F. F, not only for the result being a failure, but also to myself for thinking I didn't need to follow instructions. Oh well, we're all young and stupid once, right?

Your turn. Share your biggest cooking/baking fail ever.


  1. That's a memorable story for many reasons.:) Thanks for sharing. Nothing comes to mind quite like that but a few burnt things come to mind because they smelled so bad. I think the last one was green beans a few years back. I just got distracted and forgot to watch them. I mostly steam vegetables in the microwave which, of course, turns out by itself. Not the range, however. Also, a couple of years ago, I was making a pineapple upside down cake from scratch and left the salt out by accident and it was tasteless. Who would have thought a little salt could make that much difference, but it did.

  2. I burn things once in a while now more than ever because I cannot hear the timer due to my office in the basement and a little hard of hearing. I thought the timer would be heard but I'm too far away therefore I had a few things burn.

    Second, the bread brick happens once in a while since I want a whole wheat bread but just do not have the perfect recipe. So my bread turns out very dense (I call that a brick) and flatter than a white loaf of bread. Those bricks become bread crumbs or french toast.

    I can't wait to hear some other fails! Not that I like your fails but just enjoy your stories.

  3. Great story, Lili. I know I was guilty of not following directions and skipping steps when I was younger. I've *mostly* learned to not do that anymore.

    The cooking "oops" that seems most dramatic occurred several years ago. Friends in my small group Bible study were going through a difficult time and each of us in the group took a turn providing a meal for them. I decided to cook an impossible pie (Bisquick) for their family of five. It turned out beautifully and I was feeling pretty proud of myself when I removed it from the oven. Somehow I lost my grip on it and it flipped in midair and landed, cheesy side down, on my carpeted kitchen floor (I was living in an apartment at the time). As I was scraping up the disaster from the floor, I had this crazy thought that perhaps I could just cover the top of it with cheese and they would never know .... but I came to my senses, cleaned up the mess, and ordered Subway sandwiches for the family.

    I occasionally forget to add baking powder to my pancake batter, which makes for very dense pancakes. We usually eat them anyway, covered in lots of syrup. Sometimes I wonder about my brain.

    Love the stories. It's good to know I'm not the only one who really goofs up in the kitchen.

  4. I remember in my late teens making some casserole in a Pyrex 13x9. Somehow I thought that broiling it would bake it faster. The dish shattered, oven was a mess and the food was a glass laced loss.

    We smoke meats often in the warm months. Ribs, brisket, pork butt etc. I have ruined poultry enough times to have quit trying. Last summer’s fowl foul was a cremated turkey breast. Never again!


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