All of us have burned a dish at one time, but that’s nothing to worry about. Sure, the recipe may not have turned out as planned and you’re stuck with some less-than-tasty overcooked meat, but next time you will be much better prepared. Making mistakes is an inherent part of cooking, and you always learn from your errors.
That said, it’s better to be aware of the most basic cooking mistakes so you can learn the lesson without having to go through the drama yourself. Because it’s true, there are some things that you should never try in the kitchen, such as making a cake in the shape of a fictional character, as seen in the photo above. To make sure you don’t end up with the same culinary disasters, we have put together a series of recommendations, with photographic illustrations, of what to avoid in the kitchen. We beg you to please not do the following.
1. Draw a face with a pastry bag, especially when you have no experience
Your children are going to give you ideas about cakes and desserts shaped like cute animals that turn out perfectly in the photos. In an effort to win their love and make sure they don’t send you to a nursing home when you’re old, you attempt the task. You have no experience in pastry, but that doesn’t stop you from getting out the pastry bag and trying to draw a design. It’s at this precise moment, however, that you realize that the lines are all wrong. As an example, take a look at the photo of the Garfield cake, which was shared by Reddit user JenniferWilllow. It looks like the famous cat has just taken MDMA. You can tell by looking at its pupils and the mouth that he obviously wasn’t given Whiskers.
2. Get overly creative with your cake-making design
Unless you’re some type of god, you don’t have unlimited power. We all have our shortcomings, and if confectionary is not one of your strengths, it’s best to avoid it. Because instead of an adorable dog with a pink ribbon, you could create a creature like the one used as the profile picture of Reddit user Plausible-Ability, which is crying out to be put down. Is it the Pokémon Onyx with evident stomach problems? Or Princess Leia after a big night out? It’s hard to know.
3. Go overboard with baking cookies
Making sure your cookies are spaced apart on the baking tray is key. And so is waiting for the dough to chill before putting it in the oven. If you don’t do this, you may suffer the same fate as the Twitter user Polymernai: you neatly place adorable bear-shaped cookies in rows and a few minutes later, it’s as though they were crammed together in a train at peak hour, packed together like sardines.
4. Take shortcuts when decorating a dessert
Rushing in the kitchen is not allowed. If you try to save time by dumping icing on top of a multi-tiered dessert, instead of decorating each layer separately, you end up with a monstrosi-tree, like this one in a photo from Reddit user CheezyBob. For those of you familiar with cows, a certain image will come to mind. The result is about as appealing as a gin-and-tonic laced with ammonia.
5. Cover fruit in splotchy chocolate
What’s more delicious than dipping strawberries in a melted chocolate fountain? Perhaps nothing, which is why Reddit user Scotts_Totts decided to have a go at home. The trouble is he covered the fruit in chocolate that had just come out of the microwave, without waiting for the sauce to cool down and form a bit of texture. And so of course, the chocolate covered the strawberries in uneven splodges, like a sofa blanket that may seem big, but actually only covers either the top or bottom half of your body. And that’s not to mention the crazed eyes or the mouth, which makes it look as though the strawberries need to go to the dentist.
6. Overdo it with the food coloring
There are people who like to use food coloring. That’s entirely respectable, but it’s important not to overdo it, as happened to Reddit user Kross623, who used an entire bottle of red food coloring when making banana bread. The end result, as seen in the above photo, is something that looks more akin to Darth Maul’s liver or a blood sample from a Lego doll, than something edible.
7. Decorate cookies before baking them
Cookie dough changes form, size and consistency as it is baked, which is why it’s recommended that you decorate them after they’ve come out of the oven. An EL PAÍS reader named Saru wrote to us to say that she and her friends decided to do the exact opposite. And in doing so they created cookies resembling Olaf’s cousin, if he lived in Chernobyl. It’s true they might look bad but taste good. But they’re still likely to frighten children.
8. Make pie faces
Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini knew how to perfectly sculpt the human face from a block of marble. Unless you are a distant cousin of one of these masters, trying to do the same thing with a pie is not a good idea. One example of what can go wrong comes from Reddit user House_of_Hornetsx, where the pie has the face of a beat-up boxer or a girl whose make-up has started to smudge after a long night on the town.
9. Forget the importance of color and texture
It’s important to know what ingredients you are going to use and how the final dish will look. For whatever reason, the person who made the above dish forgot about the tone and consistency of mashed beans and dolloped spoonfuls of them onto the plate. So what was going to be some tasty nachos ended up looking like a kitty litter.
10. Let your imagination get out of hand
It’s great to see cooking fans who are so passionate that they are willing to experiment with their own recipes. They have mastered the stove, they have good technique, they know their ingredients and they let their creativity guide them. A good example is the avant-garde dish above, which we believe is meant to represent a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean, when Davy Jones has a zoophilic moment with a chicken. Seriously, being creative is fantastic, but some things should never be done in the kitchen.