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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

Easy Bake Oven 2007

February 12, 2007

Easy Bake Oven 2007

When I was six-years old, I asked Santa Claus for an Easy-Bake Oven.

He gave me one.

My brother his friends gave me a hard time about it, but they always ate the miniature cakes and pizzas that came out of the plastic, cyan-colored cooking toy. They might have ribbed me, but they were doing so with their mouths full.

Last week I ran across a Reuters story on the internet with the headline “Hasbro recalls nearly 1 million Easy-Bake Ovens.” After reading the short news brief I learned that children had been getting their hands and fingers stuck in the oven’s opening.

Wait a minute. Hasbro has to recall one-million toys because 21st Century children aren’t smart enough to keep their fingers out of the oven. Today’s kids need corks on their forks. What do they do at home when a parent tries to cook real food in the real oven? Are they sticking their fingers in there, too? I’ve got news for you. If you can’t pass the toy oven test, you certainly can’t pass the real-live at-home kitchen test. Go back to your Playstation.

At first I figured that the toy company might not be including the long, plastic pan passer that allows one to push the pan through the oven without sticking your hands inside. So I went to and looked up a photograph of the Easy-Bake Oven. There was the pan passer along with two small tin pans, two plastic measuring spoons, and three packets of yellow-cake mix.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I never read the directions of any toy I received between the ages of six and 16. But I certainly knew what the pan passer was used for.

The manufacturer’s recommended age for the Easy-Bake oven is 8-12 years old. Folks, my son is five. He can’t tie his shoes, he thinks he can mentally control the weather, and he has yet to master the legible writing of his name. But I guarantee you, if he had an Easy-Bake Oven, he would know not to stick his fingers inside it. Of course, he might try to drop-kick it across the room, but he would at least be smart enough to unplug it first.

The photograph of the Easy-Bake Oven on the website disturbed me. It doesn’t look anything like my 1967 edition. It was pink and looked like a space-age microwave oven. If I was a six-year old boy, and Santa brought me a pink, outer-space-looking microwave oven, I might find the nearest elf and stick his nubby little fingers inside the toy.

A few years ago someone sent me a cookbook that included grown-up recipes to be prepared using an Easy-Bake Oven. The recipes were developed by a dozen or so superstar chefs. I flipped through it, but wrote it off as a novelty publication. Easy Bake Ovens are for kids and they’re not made to cook dishes with exotic mushrooms and free-range chicken breasts. They’re made to cook cakes, and brownies, and bad-tasting pizzas. No matter how modern and space-age they make the design, that’s the way it was meant to be and that’s the way it should stay.

Nothing else in this world smells like cheap cake batter cooking under the heat of a 100-watt light bulb. Nothing. A small whiff and one is instantly transformed to childhood.

Today, my Easy-Bake Oven sits on a shelf in my office next to a lava lamp and an old trophy. It is there to remind me that you’ve got to start somewhere. No matter how simple things are in the beginning, all of your goals can be accomplished if you don’t worry about what others think, and you keep your eye on the ball. But first someone’s got to teach you to keep your fingers out of the oven.

Italian Cream Cake

1 cup Butter, softened
2 cups Sugar
5 large Eggs, separated
2 1 /2 cups All-purpose flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1 cup Buttermilk
2 /3 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 can Flaked coconut (3 1 /2 oz.)
1 /2 tsp Cream of Tartar
3 Tbl Grand Marnier
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting

Grease and flour three nine-inch round cake pans. Line pans with wax paper;grease paper, and set aside.

Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Combine flour and baking soda. Add buttermilk and flour alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in pecans, vanilla, and coconut.

Beat egg whites at high speed in a large bowl until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat untilstiff peaks form. Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 or 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans 10 minutes, remove from pans; peel off wax paper; and let cool completely on wire racks. Brush each cake layer with 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier. Let stand 10 minutes. Spread cream cheese frosting between layers and on sides and top of cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 oz.) pkg Cream cheese, softened
1 (3 oz.) pkg Cream cheese, softened
3 /4 cup Butter, softened
1 1 /2 Powdered sugar, sifted
1 1 /2 cups Pecans, chopped
1 Tbl Vanilla extract

Beat first three ingredients at medium speed of electric mixer until smooth.Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy; stir in pecansand vanilla.

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