Why Rachael Ray Didn’t Bake ‘For Decades’

Television personality Rachael Ray is known for providing delicious recipes that even the most amateur cooks can prepare. Yet the culinary queen often avoids creating foods that fall under the dessert category due to her lack of a sweet tooth. Ray admitted she boycotted any attempt at making sugary treats after this holiday debacle.

Rachael Ray onstage during a culinary demonstration at the Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite featuring Culinary Demonstrations at The IKEA Kitchen presented by Capital One at Pier 94
Rachael Ray | John Lamparski/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Rachael Ray tried her hand at gingerbread

In her book, Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life, Ray revealed her sparse selection of dessert recipes is due to her aversion to sweets. She also claims, “I suck at baking.” To prove her point, Ray shared a story from her childhood where she attempted to surprise her mom with a lemon cake. Just 10 years old at the time, the talk show host was so discouraged when the cake turned out to be a “sugary rock” that she didn’t try another dessert recipe until she hit her teens.

“It was during the holidays, and again I was trying to surprise my mom,” Ray recalled in her book. “She was on vacation and due back a few days before Christmas. She loved gingerbread, so I baked literally hundreds of ginger people, each with a different frosting face. They looked great. Maybe baking wasn’t so bad after all.”

Inspired by her confection creation, Ray decided to decorate their home with her holiday-themed cookies as a special welcome back for her mother.

“I covered the tree with ginger folk and hung more all over the kitchen,” she wrote. “[My sister] Maria was also coming home with her husband and two dogs for the holidays. She beat Mom home by a few hours and when she did, the door opened, and the rest was a blur.”

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Dogs embarked on a gingerbread feast at Rachael Ray’s house

Some may remember the holiday classic film, A Christmas Story, where the family’s highly-anticipated turkey dinner gets devoured by the neighbors dogs (the infamous “Bumpus hounds”). Something similar happened to Ray when her sister’s canines decided to consume her freshly-baked cookies.

“The dogs went straight for the cookie-covered Christmas tree,” Ray explained. “Down it went, ginger limbs flying, ginger heads rolling.”

The gingerbread massacre put a complete damper on Ray’s holiday spirit, which spread throughout the entire family.

“I lost my mind and flew into a rage, purple-faced and eyes swollen from crying,” she wrote. “Outraged, I took down the tree in record time. I was the Grinch who had stolen Christmas. My mother came home and was heartbroken. My sister took her dogs and her husband and left early. The holiday was ruined.”

Ray admitted she has a hard time with accepting defeat. After two failed attempts at desserts, the Food Network star boycotted baking for years.

“I have a competitive nature, so any time I feel like a complete failure at anything, it really sticks with me,” Ray remarked. “I stayed away from baking for decades. Since I don’t really like sweets, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.”

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After being prompted by pals and fellow chefs including Christina Tosi and Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro, Ray ventured back into the dessert genre.

“I have a group of friends and guests who bake on our show and they’ve convinced me I can do it too,” she shared. “I don’t do it often because it doesn’t make me as happy as cooking, but I know I can bake. … So I delve into it now and then, with cakes, meringues, and cookies. Maybe I’m cutting a baby sweet tooth after all these years!”