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I also did poorly in Home Ec

A Pyrex dish exploded in my oven today and that was NOT the worst part of my day! I know!

(I wrote ALL ABOUT the worst parts of my day in a different post, which I then deleted. You are welcome.)

As you know, my college degree is in See How Many English Classes I Can Take Before The School Sends Me A Cease And Desist Letter (WHICH HAPPENED). I took exactly four science classes* in four years of college. I am not PROUD of this but, well, I'm not sure I would do things differently. And this is why today's Chinese schoolchildren will soon be our overlords. 

Anyway, all that is to say: I'm sure there's a very simple explanation as to why a Pyrex dish shattered in my oven and I'm sure one of you will know as soon as I tell you what happened and you probably won't be able to contain yourself in your glee of Knowing Everything and then I will feel STUPID. So please, when you leave your THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED, YOU MORON comment, could you go light on the YOU MORON part? I'd appreciate it. 

SO. I'm into baking bread right now (and eating it, GAH) and we were going to a friend's house for dinner and I wanted to bring bread. I mixed up a batch in the morning, let it rise and was all set to bake my loaf while the kids were eating lunch. 

The recipe calls for a baking stone that you set in the oven while it's preheating. You also put a broiler pan on the other oven rack - you pour about a cup of water into the broiler pan and cook with steam. (I don't know why they want you to cook with steam. Something about a crackly crust? I AM AN ENGLISH MAJOR.) 

Well, I don't have a baking stone OR a broiler pan. I had a broiler pan that came with my oven in the old house and I THOUGHT I left it there when we moved, because it CAME with the oven and I just thought that was the proper thing to do. However! Phillip snatched the broiler pan (and other things-that-really-do-belong-to-the-house, like a window latch we never reattached, I KNOW, he is TERRIBLE) on the last night before we closed. So. We DO have a broiler pan, but it's in a plastic bag in the garage with a bunch of other junk I can't deal with. EITHER WAY. The first time I baked bread (this is not my first time! or my second!) I baked the bread on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. It worked JUST FINE. And instead of a broiler pan I used a glass casserole dish, just because it's the first thing I thought of. 

NOW. I cannot remember if I preheated the casserole dish the first several times I made bread. I think I probably did, because I follow recipes exactly, but maybe not. 

THIS time, I decided to use a SMALLER casserole dish. Again, because it was the first thing I saw when I opened that particular cupboard. And no big deal, right? I just need a container for water. So I put the cookie sheet and glass dish in the oven, set it to 450 degrees and waited twenty minutes. At the twenty minute mark I picked up the parchment paper under the loaf and plopped it down on the cookie sheet. Then I measured one cup of hot water, poured it into the glass dish and freaked the heck out when the dish immediately shattered. It popped and crunched and broke into many little pieces and I just stood there thinking, "HUH?"

Jack said, from his perch across the room, "You broke it Mommy? You broke it?"

Molly said, "Uh ohhhh. Uh ohhhh. Uh ohhhh."

It did not occur to me until later, when Phillip was asking me about it, that this might have, ah, induced injuries. Nothing like that happened. It was hardly even a huge mess, even, because I'd lined the bottom of the oven in tin foil, and so many of the pieces were big enough to pick up with tongs. 

And you KNOW I just went right on baking my bread (using a cake pan this time) because dude, all the timing for rising and preheating is sort of EXACT and I needed to bring bread for dinner! 

Later, after the oven was cool, I slipped the tin foil out of the oven, wiped it down, dug out the bits of glass in the drawer beneath, and called it good. As far as I know, everything still works. 

But HOLY HECK was that freaky. I've never seen glass do that before. I'm sure this all has something to do with temperatures and expanding and sudden changes and BLAH BLAH BLAH but whatever dudes: ENGLISH MAJOR. WHO LIKES TO EAT BREAD.

Anyway. Happy Friday, everyone. I will spend my weekend researching military schools, circuses and gypsies. 

*The four science classes I took? I can't even remember the first two. The last two were Astronomy (surprisingly, astronomy is NOT all about pretty constellations!) and Weather (one of the hardest, if not THE hardest, class I took in college, which probably says terrible things about me, maybe something like: student's horrifying lack of understanding re: temperatures, expanding masses, will one day get her into trouble when she tries to bake bread with steam.)



Last summer I had made some rice krispy treats in a pyrex dish and left them sitting on the stove all tightly nestled in their cozy pyrex home with a blue plastic lid. On the stove because, that old place was so small that the cool stove was the only place to store baked treats and still have an inch of counter space to work. ANYWAY. So my mom was visiting and when my mom visits she does all the cooking. I was pregnant with Nate and too tired to do anything so baby Jake was in the kitchen, perched up on the counter while my mom started dinner. Long story short, she accidentally turned on the wrong burner and before you know it POP! SHREEK! CRASH! The pyrex exploded all over the kitchen. Glass everywhere, sticky bits of krispies everywhere. And HOLES BURNED INTO MY LINOLEUM FLOOR. (Which the property management neglected to charge me for when we moved out.) (Shhhh. Don't tell.) It was awful and my poor mom felt so so so bad about it - especially once she realized how bad it COULD have been, what with the baby in the room too. Things are always so much worse when you start thinking about how much worse they could have gotten, aren't they? Glad all turned out okay!


I've exploded a pyrex dish too . . . except mine was on top of the stove and it went ALL over the kitchen! Yours exploded because the water was too cold for the hot empty pan you put it into. If you'd put the water in when you started to heat the pan, it would have been fine. Hope your day is better.

The Sojourner

I have never exploded a pyrex pan (probably because I've never tried to bake bread), but...um, I've been in college three years and I've only taken TWO science classes. (Physical Anthropology, MOST BORING CLASS EVER in which I didn't learn a thing, and Human Embryology, in which I learned gobs of fascinating stuff that's not appropriate to discuss in public. My friend who's a nursing major was in that class and we used to leave notes on each other's whiteboards--we lived on the same wing in the dorm--about notochords and stuff.) I'm not required to take any more. I'm not required to take ANY math classes, HOORAY. (I used to joke that that was why I chose the college I did, B.A.s don't have to take any math. Horrible, I know.)

Who needs science and math anyway? With my journalism and theology majors, I can correct you for bad grammar AND heresy! That's all the life skills I'll ever need, right?

Dr. Maureen

Same reason you shouldn't put a piping-hot coffee carafe down in a cold sink. (Don't do that, incidentally.) Sudden shock of cold water on the hot glass makes it explode.

If it makes you feel better, though, I don't entirely understand WHY the sudden shock makes it explode, and I have a PhD in engineering. So I should probably know that. Neither do I understand why the steam makes the crust crackly; I just take the bakers at their word.

Very glad no one was injured by flying debris!


Pyrex can be persnickety like that. It could have been the whole temperature thing (super hot dish, sort of hot water) or the Pyrex itself could have had a small flaw in it that this the temperature thing exploited causing a structural fail (I'm married to a engineer. CAN YOU TELL?)

Either way, Pyrex is cheap. Meh. Now you get to go to Target to buy a replacement.


I've baked bread like that many times and I've never had that happen! I usually use my Pyrex 8" x 8" pan for it too. Sometimes I just use a small frying pan that's oven safe, I don't think that would risk exploding from thermal shock.

Oh, and I can tell you why the steam makes for a crusty loaf! I've heard the steam reacts with the sugar in the dough and draws it to the surface. Then, when all the steam is used up, the sugars caramelize on the surface for a brown and YUMMY crust.


OMG that must have been so STARTLING! And also, your children's reactions were adorable. Tee.


That happened to me while I was making that same bread recipe once. I felt compelled to throw the loaf away because who knows if it had tiny shards of glass in it?

Also, now I use a cheap metal cake pan to put the water in, and I just stick the cake pan + water in with the bread dough. Turns out great every time.


Don't feel bad....I was a biology major in college & I totally thought that Pyrex could withstand all temperatures. Over Christmas, when my brand new in-laws from Ireland were visiting & helping me cook Christmas dinner I thought nothing of it when they put a pyrex dish of sweet potatoes on the very bottom of the oven to keep them warm. Apparently the bottom of the oven is extra hot (who knew?). We had an explosion too....just as you described - popping & crunching. Luckily the it was just the sweet potatoes...can you imagine if I had ruined the "real" potatoes for Christmas dinner with 12 Irish in my house?

Life of a Doctor's Wife

My husband has always cautioned me about heating water to a boil (via microwave) in our pyrex measuring cup. He's always saying something like, "It will explode blah dee blah" and I have always ignored him, because isn't that what Pyrex is FOR, to endure HEAT?

Now I am going to have to listen to him, apparently!

I love your catalog of science classes. As an English major myself, I also did the "what's the least amount of math and science I can complete while still earning a degree" dance. So I took geology (which was surprisingly hard and a class about nutrition in which we learned about monkey diets and made baklava for one another. Weird stuff!


The pyrex exploding probably had to do with the temperature difference between the dish and the water. I should be able to give you a more in-depth answer seeing as I'm a chemical engineer and took an ENTIRE CLASS on heat transfer. But I don't want to think about it too much.

Also, my college classes are pretty much the opposite of yours. All math and science (being an engineering major will do that to you.) And since I went to an engineering school, we were required to take ZERO english classes. None. I took a Shakespeare class and a poetry writing class as electives though because (unlike most students at my school) I actually LIKE that kind of stuff.


I did mostly bio/chem so have long since forgotten the physics stuff, but I'm with everyone else on the sudden change in temp being the problem. Are you sure the recipe called for the pan to be preheated before adding water? It's usually just baking stones that need preheating, so if you're using a cookie sheet it really doesn't need to be preheated at all (though the oven does, obvs). Oh, and if (like me) you're too cheap to spend $50 on a baking stone, there are always the ceramic floor tiles from building stores that are about $2 each (and I've used them with good results for pita bread and crispy ginger snaps).

v . Letkemann

If you put the water in the pyrex b/f heating it, it should be fine. Don't know why (scientifically), but you're supposed to avoid putting hot pyrex or glass objects on a wet surface - something about drastic temperature changes - filling with cold water would be similar.
I've broken a few glass dishes in the microwave - thought they were supposed to be able to 'take it'...

Sonya in San Antonio aka Glam-O-Mommy

Maggie, I'm glad everyone in your house is okay, but this post totally made me laugh. Mainly because I was a Communication-English double major who minored in Speech aka the I'll-Do-Anything-Not-to-Take-Math-or-Science-Classes degree plan! I took exactly one math course (Calculus, which was a semester that simply repeated the year I took of Calc as a senior in high school, so supposedly would be an easy repeat...I got As in high school and a B in college, so WTH?) and one science class with lab, Physics Sound Waves and Light Waves, which was affectionately called Physics for Poets, but was very hard! I am also not great in the kitchen, so I appreciate your commitment to the baking. A Pyrex explosion like the one you had would probably put me off cooking/baking completely LOL!

Kate P

Deepest condolences on the loss of your Pyrex dish. But, hey, you still ended up with bread and nobody got hurt--you did great!


One of my "science credits" included a class named "Natural Disasters." Yes. It was easy- but I am now ruined because I know everything that's a "not-if-but-when-situation." Freaked out. About everywhere. In fact, I live right by an ACTIVE volcano apparently. Good to know.


I've done the same thing. It didn't even occur to me that the dish would shatter until after the fact (of course). I think we're still finding pieces of glass in the oven...


I assumed that it was probably the water temp vs the dish temp, too. But then you said it was already hot water, so I figured it would be fine and yet you had that result... so huh.

And I think I only took 2 science classes in college. Earth Science and some fort of biology for dummies... But then, I actually graduated from art school, so that could explain it... :) I took 4 math classes, though (only passed 2 of them, but that was enough to let me graduate!)


That's funny, I took a class called Natural Disasters, too. Ashley, did you go to SDSU? (Actually, the class was developed there & then was so popular I think other schools started using the same book & calling it that same name. Textbook written by the SDSU prof.)

ANYWAY. I've heard of this happening w/Pyrex dishes, too. So if/when I do baking w/water, I think I'll stick to one of my metal pans.


Don't worry about it it happens! The only reason I knew immedately what happened to you us because I worked through college at an ice cream parlor and once put ice cream in a dish that wasnt completely cool. It was bearly lukewarm but it cracked in my hand. Scared the crap out of me. Glad no one was hurt!

Jen @ The Short Years

I exploded a Pyrex dish once too, when I took it out of the oven and set it on my glass stove top, which was turned off, but was apparently still too hot...or something...I always thought the point of Pyrex was that it was supposed to be able to handle the heat!


Totally did the same thing a few years back! Pyrex 9x13 pan was roasting a chicken, and I added water to it to help give it juice 1/2 way through, and BOOM! Pieces exploded out of the oven all over the floor. No eyeballs were taken out, but they could have been! Super scary. I'm kind of glad to hear someone else did this, too, sorry to say :)

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