Saturday, December 12, 2009

Flashback Friday: The Great Christmas Baking Fiasco

I've been doing a lot of holiday baking so far this year.  Well, really, I've baked one particular dessert several different times, and I'm not done yet.  That dessert is cheesecake.  I have a recipe that my mom developed over several years of testing and trying, and I happen to think it is one of the tastiest things I have ever eaten.  It has become my holiday staple, and I pretty much make it for any holiday gathering occurring between Thanksgiving and New Years.  This year, I made one for Thanksgiving, one for Cy's Blessing celebration, and one for Jason's office holiday party.  I am making four for this Tuesday's Relief Society Enrichment Meeting, and I am making at least one for Christmas Eve dinner.  All of this cheesecake baking reminds me of the first time I made this recipe all by myself.

It was the year 2005 and it marked Jason's first Christmas in New York.  We were engaged and sharing an apartment in the Bronx.  We were unable to fly home for Christmas because we had to fly home in January to plan our wedding in April.  It was admitedly depressing to not be with any other family, so I wanted to bring some of my family's traditions to our little Bronx Christmas.  There are two things that make me think Christmas - homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning and cheesecake for Christmas Dinner.  So, never having made either before, I set to make them both on Christmas Eve.

I began with the Cinnamon rolls at about 1:00pm in the afternoon.  I mixed all of the ingredients, rolled them up, put them in the pan and left them to rise.  And left them.  And left them.  They didn't seem to be rising the way I thought they should, but I baked them anyway.  They came out small and hard, and they smelled oddly of play-dough.  I took one out and took a bite and was disgusted to discover that they tasted of play-dough as well!  After examining the flour bag, I realized that, not being a regular baker, I was using extremely old flour! I think it had expired like 6 months prior or something.  So, I started all over.  I don't remember exactly how long the cinnamon rolls take to rise and bake, but it is quite some time.  It was at least evening by this point.

I then began my cheesecake.  After several phone calls to my mom, I had it all mixed and ready to go. The way her recipe works is that, after making the graham cracker crust, you then make the rich, cream cheese filling.  You bake that for about 30 minutes, let it cool for 10 minutes, then put on the sour cream topping and bake for another 10 minutes.  I guess with eating dinner and what not, the process took quite some time.  When I pulled it out of the oven the first time, I was extremely pleased with the results.  Beleive me when I tell you that it was perfect.  There was not one single crack, it was smooth, and the perfect consistency.  I mixed the sour cream topping, and put it back in the oven.  While it baked I took a shower, as I had been baking all day and was tired and dirty.

It was about 1:30am Christmas morning when I went to pull the cheesecake out of the oven for the final time. Oh man, it's hard to talk about even now, four years late.  I pulled the cheesecake out, and as I did, the bottom of my spring form pan popped out of the ring, rose into the air (with the cheesecake on top, of course), turned over and landed with a splat on the floor.  I believe my response went something like this:


I then ran into the bedroom and flung myself on the bed in a fit of tears.  I had been baking for 12 hours and all I had to show for it was one lousy batch of cinamon rolls!  Jason ran in from the living room to see what was wrong, sure I had burnt myself or cut off a limb or something.  When he saw the disaster, being the thoughtful guy that he is, he immediately grabbed a camera and snapped a picture.

Yes, my friends, that is what happens when hot cheesecake, which has not yet had time to set, is thrust to the ground by gravity. It really did flip exactly upside down in the air.  Kind of amazing, really.

That is the splatter effect up the dishwasher.  What you can't see, is that it also splattered clear under the dishwasher.

A close up.

To his credit, Jason sent me to bed and cleaned up the whole mess, after getting photographic evidence, of course.  The worst part was that I was going to miss out on my Christmas Cheesecake!  Fortunately, our good friend Jean was also unable to go home for Christmas and was planning to join us for ours.  I called her first thing Christmas morning and asked if there was anywhere in her neighborhood that was open on Christmas day that might sell cream cheese and sour cream.

Lucky for us, there was, and so I made my second ever cheesecake fewer than 24 hours after making (and killing) the first.  Though not quite as perfect as the first, it was still mighty tasty!

Cheesecake #2

Fortunately, I have yet to have a repeat of that disaster; however, I have been permanently scarred.  While I am fine to remove the cheesecake from the over after it's first baking, I am so terrified of a repeat performance that I insist that Jason remove it after it's second baking, just to be on the safe side.


  1. Oh, that is so sad and I feel your despair.

  2. Oh man! I can only imagine how upset you must have been!! I am glad you got pictures though! You will always remember that "baking fiasco!"


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