First coined in mid-2000s, “lifehacks” are tips intended to make ordinaary tasks faster, easier, and cheaper. While plenty of lifehacks really are handy, most baking hacks are more likely are more likely to result in a kitchen fire than a tasty, easy treat! Our Raleigh baker explains which baking hacks are best avoided.
Let’s start off with a “hack” by 5-Minute Crafts, a YouTube channel with about 58 million followers. The channel boasts a recipe that can supposedly make fast, instant Jell-O by adding an unspecified amount of gummy bears to a pan, covering them in an unspecified amount of water that may or may not be hot, and simmering it until the bears are dissolved. Sadly, however, this will not create Jell-O, but a sticky, watery mess. Overcook it, and it will become a sticky, watery mess that also tastes of burnt sugar. (And good luck getting it out of the pan.)
Blossom, a YouTube channel with 11 million followers, suggests that you can leave chocolate chip cookie dough in a hot car for an hour, and the sun will bake it into crispy, crumbly perfection. Sidestepping the fact that this is essentially the same thing as making cookies in an oven, and most people who have cars are likely to have an oven, getting the dough to bake would take about four to five hours, not one, and the car’s internal temperature would have to be at least 180 degrees (which would mean it would need to be at least 95 outside). As fun as this sounds, for convenience’s sake you’re probably better off using the oven, wherein cookies bake for eight minutes at 350 degrees and don’t come with that new car smell.
This “hack” also comes from a minute-long Blossom montage. It suggests that one can make microwave “flan” by placing four marshmallows and two raw eggs into a half-empty quart of milk, microwaving it for ten minutes, then chilling it for an unspecified amount of time. The main issue with this tip is that marshmallows don’t need ten minutes to cook; in fact, they barely need one minute to cook. Blasting marshmallows with radiation for ten minutes makes them more likely to come out as the monster from Ghostbusters—either that, or making your entire house reek of burned sugar for weeks. Secondly, eggs are best cooked slowly over low heat, which allows the proteins to break down and creates more flavor.
Grilled cheese isn’t necessary “baking”, but this hack is so overwhelmingly popular, we can’t leave it off the list. In a clip that’s been widely distributed around the web, at-home cooks are encouraged to turn a toaster onto its side, insert bread and cheese, and toast it all, thereby avoiding a dirty pan. This hack isn’t just silly; it’s actively dangerous—in fact, the London Fire Brigade even made a public statement asking everyone not to try it after multiple people complained of their toasters bursting into flames. This was presumably due to flammable, cheesy fat dripping down onto exposed heating elements. In order to enjoy the best buttery, cheesy result possible and prevent a house fire, we suggest using the toaster as it was meant to be used: right-side up.
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