My daughter turned five a few weeks ago and, since I’m trying to turn her into a little Chowhound, I bought her an Easy-Bake Oven. The thing is festooned with warnings not to use if  you’re under age 8, not to touch it here or there, not to fling it into a bathtub, not to use it in a canoe on a lake, etc. etc., so I thought it might have gotten more dangerous than when I was a wee thing. Nay. It’s gotten even more wimpy. Now you don’t use a hook to pull out the hot pan, you use a forked plastic stick to push it into a cooling area. No burnt fingers, no burnt tongue from repeatedly trying hot, liquid cake mix, no need to use oven mitts = half the fun of the Olden Days.

You have to preheat the oven for a minimum of 15 minutes before attempting to bake anything, and it takes an additional 15 to 20 minutes to bake some wee cookies or an infinitesimal little cake. Light bulb technology at its finest! When your baked goods are cooked through, they sit on the cooling shelf for an additional 10 minutes. All for a cake the size of a biscuit. Plus, the mixes that come with the oven taste hideous, and refills cost upwards of $5 a throw.

All that being said, it’s still interesting to mess with. For the DIY-minded, there are plenty of Easy-Bake recipes online, including tips on using regular store-bought mixes and recipes for homemade Easy-Bake treats like butterscotch, chocolate cake, and pizza. And um, wild mushroom flan, which is a recipe culled from The Easy-Bake Oven Gourmet. If only the book’s recipe for roasted quail breast were online!

See more articles