I altered a single brownie recipe nine times to see how each change would affect a batch of the dessert. With each batch, I made a different mistake on purpose to see how it would change the texture and taste.Errors like packing flour and mistaking baking soda for baking powder are easy to make, especially for first-time bakers. Distractions in the kitchen can cause even a seasoned baker to slip up on the simplest of steps, like counting eggs.Each image in the graphic shows how the labeled mistake altered the look of the homemade brownies. Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Baking brownies from scratch is not an easy task. After sticking with a boxed mix all my life, I finally tried my hand at making the dessert without Betty Crocker’s help. After I saw how different baking mistakes affected my chocolate-chip cookies and banana bread, I wanted to see what some of those same mistakes would do to a pan of brownies. I decided to use the Hershey’s cocoa powder for my trial, so I kept it in the family and used the company’s brownie recipe that’s available online. Even with a baked good as simple as brownies, there’s plenty of room for error. After all the baking was over, I found myself with nine different versions of homemade brownies — one of which wasn’t edible.Before I started melting and mixing ingredients, I took a look through the recipe. It called for baking powder, melted butter, cocoa powder, flour, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Then, I mapped out all the mishaps I could have made on my own, and got to baking, working my way through the list of faux pas.
Mistakes included:Not using enough flour;Packing my flour and using too much of it;Using too many eggs;Leaving out eggs completely;Mistaking baking soda for baking powder;Not using enough butter;Using too much butter;Not using enough sugar;Using too much sugar.Here, you can see how the brownies turned out after each mistake was made (you can click on the image below to make it larger):
Each of my nine pans of brownies and the mistakes that made them.
Rather than making full batches of each version, I reduced the amount of food wasted by cutting the recipe in half. The full recipe noted that if I was using an eight-by-eight inch pan, I’d have to use two of them, so I knew that cutting the recipe in half meant I could just stick with one pan per batch.
Instead of using 36 eggs total, I used 17; instead of 18 sticks of butter, I used nine; instead of nine cups of flour, I used four and a half.
Some of the brownies looked drastically different from one another.
There were three mistakes (too little flour, using baking soda, and too much sugar) that resulted in mushy, chewy, wrinkly brownies. It was hard for me to tell the difference between them. Using an extra egg and measuring out too much butter both resulted in cakey brownies. While my favorite of the bunch was the batch for which I used too much flour, my friends and family preferred the thinner varieties. It’s really all about which texture you prefer. The only mistake that resulted in a completely inedible brownie was forgetting to add the eggs at all. This mistake left me with a pan of bubbly, sandy, buttery, cocoa-covered sugar. So, if you’re going to take on the task of homemade brownies from scratch, I suggest you stop the side conversation, pause the music, put down the wine, and double-check that you didn’t forget the eggs.
Insider has more culinary experiments like this in the works. Send suggestions for baked goods and other foods you would like to see us try to email@example.com.