I have been baking for four hours now. I shouldn’t have been. Really. But my oven hates me and I can hear its happy low rumbles of pleasure as it maintains its current 350 degrees of nanny boo boo at me.
Let me explain.
I decided to make brownies for the Boy’s CampFire club tomorrow. It’s almost his birthday and I thought it would be nice to celebrate with a little treat. That’s what we do, right? So I know the oven is sometimes… slow to respond, as it were, and so I come out from putting him to bed (the Boy, not the oven) and I immediately turn on the oven to 350. It’s a good bet that the temperature will be somewhere in that area. Then I go looking for a recipe that is both dairy- and gluten-free, because that’s what I needed. It’s 8:30p.m. La la la…
I find a recipe and by 9:00 I’m making the brownies–grinding the almonds into meal, melting the chocolate–everything is beginning to smell appropriately chocolately. (I like “chocolately.” I’m a spelling Mrs. Danvers*, I will cut you with my sharpened-steel gaze if you mentally use the wrong “your/you’re/yore”, but this mistake I find charming and usable. I need to sleep on the contradiction.)
By the time I’m ready to put the brownies into the oven, it’s 11:00p.m. (There was a lot of specific steps to the recipe and it’s the first time I’d baked specifically gluten-free; I wanted to be careful and the darn chocolate just wouldn’t melt.) I looked at the oven, which had been preheating for two-and-a-half hours now.
It wasn’t cold. Oh, no. (That might indicate a problem.) It was at 150. It was pleasantly warm. It was socks-on-the-radiator warm. It was toast. It was not, after two-and-a-half hours, 350 degrees hot.
A few choice words might have deflated my brownie batter then and there. I contemplated my toaster oven. I turned the oven knob to off, turned it back on, up to 450 degrees (to get it started). Twenty minutes later? No dice. My independent internally-placed hardware store oven thermometer read 125. It was going down.
Fifteen minutes later it was at 400. I jumped at my chance. I turned down the oven slightly, put the brownies in, closed the door.
Now the recipe stated that I should underbake them to keep them gooey and not let them get crumbly. Well… not a problem. Fifteen minutes into the baking time, the temp was down to 300 and I could hear the faint laughter as of a round belly of evil jiggling with untoward mirth. Like Jabba the Hutt when Princess Leia, dressed as a bounty hunter, comes down in the gloom of night(ish) to gently touch the face of the imprisoned Han Solo.
Like that. Only in my oven. “HO Ho ho.”
I tried to put it up to 400 again. By now it was down to 225. I left it for another 15 minutes. It was up to 275 and the brownies were steep valleys, waiting for bighorn sheep and a trickle of water to indicate perspective in this perfect third-grader’s model of water erosion.
Now it’s 12:47. I took the brownies out at 12:20 and turned the oven off, finally giving up, hoping they are gooey and yet still edible, this experiment completely unrepeatable due to far too many fluctuating variables in temperature. It’s now 12:47.
And the oven, chuckling softly, is at 350 degrees. Ho ho ho.
p.s. Why am I still up? Someone will ask. Because, because, because, the recipe states that I need to let the brownies cool, then chill them. So I have to wait for the cooling and then do the chilling. It may be a disaster, but I will see my disaster through to the end.
*From Wikipedia: “Mrs. Danvers, who was profoundly devoted to Rebecca, tries to undermine the second Mrs. de Winter, suggesting to her that she will never attain the urbanity and charm that Rebecca possessed. Whenever Mrs. de Winter attempts changes at Manderley, Mrs. Danvers points out how Rebecca ran Manderley when she was alive. Each time Mrs. Danvers does this, she implies that the new Mrs. de Winter is lacking in experience and knowledge and understanding of the complexities of the management of an important estate such as Manderley. The second Mrs. de Winter is cowed by Mrs. Danvers’ imposing manner and complies with the housekeeper’s suggestions.” See? Just like me. Only with spelling instead of housekeeping and murdered wives.