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Here’s Why You Must Read the Recipe Before You Start Cooking

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Photo: GEORGES GOBET/AFP (Getty Images)

It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when you’re excited about a new recipe. You’re stoked to get started, so you dive right into the ingredients list without taking the time to read the instructions in full. Sometimes, this is fine—when making everyday fare like chocolate chip cookies, for example. But other times, you’ll end up elbow-deep in a mixing bowl before you realize you were supposed to let the eggs warm to a certain temperature, or preheat your Dutch oven, or add your ingredients in a very specific order. Best-case scenario, you backtrack and spend a little extra time on an otherwise painless recipe. Worst-case, you waste a ton of ingredients and the recipe comes out poorly. That’s what happened to one Redditor who recently posted about their bread-baking disaster on Reddit’s TIFU (Today I F*cked Up) forum.

For the uninitiated, TIFU is usually reserved for embarrassing moments, party fouls, and personal indiscretions. But the post I’m referring to was more of a crossover between a Reddit-style anecdote and a heartfelt bread experiment. Basically, it’s Breaddit.

In the post, Redditor Nilsoren writes that they acquired their mom’s old DAK Turbobaker IV bread machine at the start of the pandemic. After flipping through the recipe book and learning the basics of breadmaking, Nilsoren felt ready to advance to the tough stuff. “The problems began when I started to become more confident,” they write in the post. “The book has quite a few recipes in it, and one of them for ‘Grain Bread’ really stood out to me as just having way more ingredients than any of the other recipes.” Nilsoren describes this particular recipe as “the Everest of DAK TurboBaker IV recipes.” Seems like a recipe you’d read thoroughly before diving into baking, right?

Not so, per Nilsoren. The amateur breadmaker threw in ingredients according to their order in the recipe. “Almost all the previous recipes are just like ‘add ingredients to bowl in order listed,’” they write. Unfortunately, they failed to realize that the recipe required a specific porridge-making step early in the mixing process. They write:

So I add things to the bowl in the order listed, get to the ‘make the porridge with the boiling water bit,’ notice my dough looks deeply troubled, decide ‘Damnit, I should have read the whole thing first.’ Throw my dough out. Start again.

This is actually the least troubling part of Nilsoren’s bread saga, which involves a smoking stand mixer, a lackluster loaf, and the distinct scent of sulfur. But it is a much-needed reminder to read a recipe in its entirety before embarking on your cooking or baking quest. Sit down with a cup of coffee and read the recipe the way you’d read, oh, a helpful internet food blog written by a gorgeous and naturally athletic food writer based in Chicago. And after that, pop over to Reddit to read Nilsoren’s full post. It’s full of wonderful puns like “Luciflour.”