Erin Jeanne McDowell And Robert Lucas' Biggest Baking Fails - Exclusive

Erin Jeanne McDowell and Robert Lucas are two highly-skilled pastry professionals — she's a cookbook author and food stylist, while he's a cake decorator and content creator. Now, they're both also coaches on "The Big Nailed It Baking Challenge," the new spin-off of Netflix's "Nailed It!" Over the course of 10 episodes, McDowell and Lucas instruct a group of inexperienced bakers on proper cake-making techniques.

In the early episodes of the show, the contestants' lack of skill led to some memorable baking fails. McDowell told us, "They didn't know how to use spatulas at the beginning. Some of them were applying frosting with their hands." Collapsing cakes were also an issue, per Lucas. "In the beginning, everyone's structure was a little off." But of course, everyone makes mistakes when they're learning, even bakers as talented as McDowell and Lucas — and in an exclusive interview with Mashed, they shared the baking fails that haunt them to this day.

McDowell's worst mishap occurred when she was still a teenager. "Once, when I was 16 years old, I kept melting chocolate over and over again in the microwave. I didn't realize it retains a lot of heat. Eventually, the bowl exploded and ignited, and it was my worst disaster." Lucas's happened more recently (he only started baking cakes a few years ago). "My worst was a cake that I was working on, and I was going to get ingredients and as I walked back, I tripped and I had to catch myself and my hand went through the cake."

Sometimes failure can be useful

Although the two "Baking Challenge" coaches may not exactly look back fondly at their past mistakes, they both acknowledge that failure is a critical part of the learning process. They tried to remember this when teaching contestants on the show. As Robert Lucas put it, "We both fell into that 'I want to go over there and help them so bad' mode, but you have to let them fail a little bit, because they need to learn from those failures." Erin Jeanne McDowell reflected that she herself had learned a lot from her own mistakes when she was studying pastry. "We all have our baking mistakes, and Robert and I talked about that a lot behind the scenes — our worst moments, because that happens to everybody, but then there's a lot to learn from that stuff, too."

That's not to say that every baking mistake helps you out, however. There wasn't really any lesson for Lucas to learn from tripping and falling into his cake, and he didn't even get any content out of it: "It was off-camera, and I couldn't even share the video because it was ruined at that point." That's a shame, because as McDowell pointed out, "That probably would've gone viral if you had shared it."

"The Big Nailed It Baking Challenge" premieres on Netflix Friday, August 4.