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“Easy-Bake” Oven My Butt: A Cooking Guide to Every Mother’s Worst Nightmare

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It is important for me to teach my daughter Hadley how to cook. My mom was a top-notch chef and ran a popular restaurant for many years. Growing up, I wasn’t what you would call a gourmand. Case in point: the infamous fiasco when I misread the gingerbread recipe and added 1 cup of ginger instead of 1 tablespoon.

A minor oversight.

My interest in cooking was not ignited until after college and now I love it. These days, my attempts to tap into my mother’s fountain of knowledge are met with frustration as she tries to recall her from-scratch recipes, none of which are written down nor have actual measurements.

Because evidently good cooks do not use measuring cups.

When I was at a store the other day, Christmas toys littered the entrance. Hot wheels. Dolls. And, much to my abhorrence, Easy-Bake-Ovens. A few years ago, I bought Hadley an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas. She has always enjoyed cooking with me and I figured this would be one more notch on our mother-daughter bonding belt.

How wrong I was.

I also bought her some astronomically-priced Easy-Bake cookie and cupcake packets. “Just add water,” they promised. What could be easier for an amateur epicurean?

Take it from me: Pan-Roasted Wisconsin Pheasant Breast with Truffle Risotto, Carrot Ribbons and Cider Sauce would be MUCH easier.

We preheated the Easy-Bake Oven and pulled out our recipe packet. Really, our first indication that something would go awry should have been when we read that the cookie would bake in 10-12 minutes.

Not likely in an oven heated by a 0.5-watt bulb.

And yes, I did say cookie. As in singular.

The instructions said to add 1 1/2 teaspoons of water to the mix and to stir until it formed a dough. We did so accordingly and all that resulted were a few disjointed lumps. As the daughter of a from-scratch genius, I proclaimed, “No worries, Hadley! Mommy will work her magic.”

And I did. “Just add water” turned into adding flour, butter, milk, vanilla and some more flour. Finally, it was ready and she reverently placed it in her Easy-bake Oven.

Then we waited.

And waited some more.

Did I mention the waiting?

During this time, I manged to crank out three batches of cookies in my real oven as dejected Hadley waited patiently in front of hers. After 40 minutes, it was ready.

“It” as in one cookie.

As it cooled, the next step was the frosting. Again, the instructions guided us to just add water. The result was even worse. I came to the rescue again, creating a masterpiece that would make my Martha Mother proud.

By this time, Hadley was becoming unglued. This “easy” process of adding water and waiting endlessly had taken its toll. She asked me to bring her a bowl for the sprinkles. All of the bowls were in the dishwasher so I brought a plate.

That was the beginning of the end as she seethed, “I SAID I WANTED A BOWL.”

In only an hour, she had turned into Gordon Ramsay from Hell’s Kitchen.

Then again, give her a couple of years of supplementing her Easy-Bake recipes and the kid will put chefs everywhere to shame.

Did you ever have an Easy-Bake Oven as a kid? How do you teach your children how to cook?

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  • comment avatar Kari January 11, 2010

    LOL! My memories of easy bake ovens are warm and fuzzy.

    After reading this, I’m sure my mom’s are much different.

  • comment avatar Tia Juana January 11, 2010

    When friends tell me that they are getting an Easy Bake Oven I just laugh out loud!!! I’ve been through exactly what you have described. While I bought it for my oldest daughter, I have kept it around for my younger daughter. She loves when I take the time to do it with her. I must tell you that I despise the times I have to get it out and cook with it. Why I have kept it? I do not know. I suppose I have because I know that deep down it is the desire of every child’s heart to bake, I mean really bake, with that thing and I didn’t want to have to buy another one. I have found though, that you can get away from buying the expensive packets that are made by the Easy Bake money mongers and by the Jiffy mixes instead. If you google Easy Bake oven recipes or something similar, you will find a plethera of homemade recipes that will work better than the mixes. Oh, and my daughter used to love to make lunch with her oven by squishing a biscuit in the pan, topping with sauce and cheese and letting that back up into a little pizza. Just don’t use the Grands biscuits and keep the cheese to a MINIMUM or you will curse my name for getting cheese dripped on your oven element – aka: lightbulb. You’re Welcome, sucker!!!!

  • comment avatar Lauren in GA January 11, 2010

    I am dying over the comparison to Gordon Ramsay. Maybe that is how he got so uptight (I am being kind by calling him uptight)…maybe it all began with an Easy Bake oven?

  • comment avatar Kassie Bunting January 11, 2010

    I bought my daughter an easy bake oven for her birthday last year. That thing was the bane of my existance. I have it shoved so far back in the cabinet so that she’ll never see it and won’t beg me to use it. I’d much rather have her make a batch of real cookies that won’t cause fights because there will be more than one miserable excuse for a cookie. I let the kids bake with me if they want, but when dinner cooking comes around I try to keep them out of the kitchen so I can have dinner done before bedtime.

  • comment avatar Joy Opp January 11, 2010

    I got Amanda an Easy Bake a couple years ago and had the same experience! AWEFUL! So it headed over to the Goodwill without seeing much action. Was that really good will on my part? hmmmm…

    So now we tackle real recipies with grown-up sized appliances and our mother/daughter, cooking/baking realtionship is progressing most excelently!

  • comment avatar sari January 11, 2010

    Oh my! laughing over here with you – not at you, with you πŸ™‚

    When Syds was little she too had one of these “easy” bake ovens. Our 1st try was not bad (the cookie recipe) BUT our 2nd try was the brownie recipe and that is where it all ended.
    There wasn’t enough patience in our house for any of us to keep that thing around. We gladly gifted it to Sydney’s little cousin soon afterwards…

  • comment avatar Jennifer January 11, 2010

    Too funny! I bought my 5 year old daughter one this year too…. I too had a problem with the lack of moisture. Although I just added more…. then it didn’t bake right. The cookies worked out better than the cake. I swear when I had mine, many years ago, it worked ten times better!
    Maybe we should just stick to the real deal! :o)

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver January 11, 2010

    I had a Susie Homemaker washing machine.

    How fun is THAT?


    Hadley does look good in the toque!

  • comment avatar Andrea January 11, 2010

    My girls got one from Gramma years ago (when they were WAY too young to have one) and I had heard how long they took. So we promptly got rid of it.
    They love to help me bake and cook, and hopefully one day will do it on their own.

  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck January 11, 2010

    Whew! Such tales bring me relief that I am not alone. How is they’ve stayed on the market all these years?!

  • comment avatar gina January 11, 2010

    I had one! I remember trying it out with my mom and just waiting, and waiting, and waiting for a small piece of blah tasting cake thing. I think we only used it just that once.

  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck January 11, 2010

    She hasn’t asked to bring it out again. I’m secretly hoping she forgets about it. πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar JoAnn January 11, 2010

    Thankfully, we’ve been spared the “easiness” of the fake oven. πŸ™‚ Claire just cooks right along side me. Plus, this way, she’s learning the important things: where the fire extinguisher is and how to dial 9-1-1. πŸ˜‰

  • comment avatar Mama Bird January 11, 2010

    I love that you wrote about this. The Easy Bake Oven was my Red Ryder BB gun. Only, I never got one.

    I begged and begged for one as a girl and was always sadly disappointed when year after year, I never got one. My mother always told me, “Why do you need that when you can cook with me in a *real* kitchen?” She obviously didn’t get it. I wanted *my own* kitchen to make fun little cakes and cookies I could decorate myself.

    Once I knew I was becoming a mother to a little girl of my own, I knew I was going to make sure she had an Easy Bake Oven, if only so I could live out my childhood dreams with her. Since then, I’ve heard the stories of how horribly these things work, and how they taste just as bad. Now I’m wondering if I really will follow through with my plan, or just tell Reagan the same thing my mother told me: We can bake the real thing in a real kitchen. Perhaps mother was right all along. πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar MommyTime January 11, 2010

    I always wanted one of these as a child and could never figure out why my mother wouldn’t let me have one. She did get me a child-sized sewing machine, though, which was the best Christmas present I EVER got. EVER. So: learning to cook — in the real kitchen; learning to sew — on the little machine that couldn’t sew through my finger. Good choices, I think.

  • comment avatar Liz January 11, 2010

    Thank goodness I have boys! Wednesdays are homemade pizza night at our house. We buy pizza dough from Spinellis Market. My 3 year old son dons his chef hat and apron, grabs his roller, and makes his own pizza. He puts all sorts of things on it that he would never otherwise eat: pepperoni, red,green, yellow peppers, mushrooms, sausage. It’s the dinnertime highlight of the week.

  • comment avatar yvonne January 12, 2010

    I never had one and never bought one for my kids. Sure sounds like I missed out on some fun ; )

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson January 12, 2010

    A child-sized sewing machine? I may have turned into a domestic goddess is my mom had given me one of those.

  • comment avatar Lei January 13, 2010

    ROFL!!!!!!!!!!!!! I got one for my oldest daughter when she was 5, too! Worst mistake of my life. Wait, scratch that, she got a Crazy Cookin set for Christma so the verdict is still out on “worst mistake of my life”. Why don’t I learn?

  • comment avatar Liz January 14, 2010

    East Bake Ovens Suck! Ours is happily with another family driving some other mother crazy.

  • comment avatar serf 'rett January 16, 2010

    Memories of sister’s Easy Bake led to my forbidding the entrance of the device in our home. You hit most of the high points – must have gold coin to buy mixes, water is just the starter of what the mix needs, low volume production, cakes/cookies don’t really cook they are petrified during the eons of waiting. The only thing you missed was the taste of the end product could choke a goat (unless you added more than water).
    Ditch the EB and reduce the counseling cost.

  • comment avatar Suzanne (Crunchy green Mom) January 19, 2010

    Bahahahaha! I can see her “losing” it!

    Tooooo funny!

  • comment avatar Lanie May 14, 2011

    Uhh Easy Bakes I dont see why they call them that because they are not easy for them to come out right you have to add more then the instructions say. Why not just learn how to cook in a real kitchen.

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