Saturday, September 18, 2010

When the Recipe You've Made a Million Times Goes Wrong...

Okay, so we all know that a million is probably a stretch, but I have made this recipe a lot. It is the old standby I use for all sorts of different reasons...a gift for a friend, a side for lobster, a breakfast has probably gone from my bowls to my ovens more than most other things that I make. It is my go to, my fail safe.

And on Tuesday, I messed it up.

Messing up an old standard is something that happens to everyone at some point, but my mistake highlighted a problem that find in a lot of cookbooks, therefore making it a really useful mistake at this point in my life.

The recipe is for Hot Blueberry Bread and is out of one of my favorite cookbooks that is long since out of print, Blueberry Hill. Like many recipes, it says to grease the bread tins before pouring in the batter. Usually when the directions say to grease I use butter and make sure that I rub every nook and cranny of that pan, but on Tuesday morning I was in a rush and decided to spray it with Pam instead. I have used Pam to grease a pan in a pinch before and have never been burned...the time had come for that streak to end.

As I tried to remove my very stuck hot blueberry bread from the first pan (the recipe makes two) the entire bottom separated from the loaf and my blood began to boil. I was mostly mad at myself, but I was also irritated at the lack of specific directions that I find in cookbooks. It is impossible to make everything crystal clear, but what would the harm be in telling someone to grease with butter or Crisco? It was not necessarily that I blamed this specific cookbook, once I calmed down I remembered that it was written a long time ago (in the late 1950's) and at that time it might have been standard to use butter or Crisco since non-stick cooking spray was not invented (or at least not patented) until 1957, the issue was more that this is something that I run into a lot.

By the way, the second loaf of bread after much careful coaxing also separated it's top from it's bottom. Fortunately, I was at least able to save it enough to send it to my child's school for snack.

What does this have to do with my cookbook? Well, I would assume that most readers would realize by now, but in case you have not, it was a strong reminder to me to make sure that I write my recipes with as much detail and explanation as possible. There is no harm in reminding people of techniques or of including color palates for rouxs, temperatures for deep frying, or which grease works best for which recipes.

Some cooks might decide to make changes or ignore my instructions, but at least I will have given them the proper tools to do it the right way...


  1. Have you tried using a parchment paper liner? Even when I grease things I have trouble getting baked goods out sometimes. I like to use paper b/c of the ease of clean up.

  2. "temperatures for deep frying," you KNOW I will need that section. But thanks for the primer in the meantime! :)

  3. Amy--I have used parchment as a liner for my lemon bread in the past, I never even thought of that for the blueberry bread though...I will have to test it and see how it goes. Thank you for the tip!