Jessica Chastain baked a cake for the first time and it was a disaster: relatable?


Celebrities like to share their baking and cooking on Instagram, and also their foibles, because that’s so cute and relatable. (I’m only half blowing smoke about that, it is cute.) Sometimes it seems manufactured for headlines, but in other cases it comes across as genuine, like they’re giving us a glimpse into their lives. Jennifer Garner is especially skilled at this and people love her cooking videos. This is how I felt about this video by Jessica Chastain, where she tried to bake a cake for her husband’s birthday. The mix looked too thin to her, she wasn’t sure it was done, and so she put it in for more time. The result is basically a brick which she frosted and served. She said it was from the heart and that’s what mattered. There’s something to that sentiment, but it’s not like you want to eat the results. As a sidenote, Jessica and her husband of two years, Italian model Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo, welcomed a baby girl named Giuletta about a year ago and so far we’ve only seen a photo of the baby’s hand.

In the video Jessica admitted this is the first time she’d ever baked a cake, which is obvious by how it turned out, but sounds crazy to me. If I think about it though, I’ve never baked a full cake for anyone either! I’ve only baked things like brownies or cookies, and I rarely bake honestly. That post is above obviously. It’s cute except for the shaky cam. I think her husband taped it and then she had an assistant edit it and put it to music.

I can definitely overbake things, but I like to think that I would take the cake out before it got that bad. I did make cookies the other day, but they were the kind that were already refrigerated and pre-portioned and you just had to put them in the oven. They still burned a little! It’s hard to tell when baked goods are ready. I have this theory that people either like to cook or bake, not both, and I know that it’s always true but I’ve heard it often from friends. Baking is different to cooking, it’s more science-y and more things can go wrong, as Jessica experienced here. I do like to cook, but I feel like I’m only a moderately good cook. It takes a lot of work, people don’t always appreciate it, and there’s a lot of cleanup. I’m trying to be a better cook and am working at that, but I can’t be bothered to bake except in the laziest way.

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47 Responses to “Jessica Chastain baked a cake for the first time and it was a disaster: relatable?”

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  1. Erinn says:

    It always surprises me when adults have never baked something so common like a cake. I think just because growing up, a lot of the ‘keep the kids’ busy activities in our family was baking. Cakes, muffins, cupcakes, cookies. Stuff we could help with at every step of the way. But then I think about it, and not everyone has a family that enjoys baking, so I guess it makes sense.

    At the same time, though, it’s really not THAT hard. As long as you’re following the recipe, things SHOULD essentially come out okay (though it could still get stuck in the pan if you don’t prep it right). And that’s in reference to a cake from scratch. She struggled HARD with a cake mix haha. KIDS can do that.

    I can’t figure out if I found the video endearing or annoying. Kind of both, to be honest.

    • Arpeggi says:

      Yeah learning to cook and thus learning to bake is an essential skill that should be taught at a very young age. Making a cake with your parents is just like being read to before bedtime: it should be a universal experience! It’s a disservice not to teach children cooking basics.

      I understand that not everyone likes to cook but it’s still something we should know. I’m not saying that everyone should be able to make a croquembouche or master making a swiss-meringue buttercream, but making a cake from a box mix really isn’t difficult.

    • Susan says:

      I had similar thoughts. This is not relatable at all to me since I was baking cakes as a preteen and I do not consider myself at all especially unique or interested in baking. How did she escape her youth with never baking a cake?

      • Jerusha says:

        Easily. I’m 30+ years her senior and I escaped my youth never baking a cake. Instead, I was outside riding my bike, shooting marbles, playing baseball, exploring streams and forests, and when I wasn’t doing that I was sitting enthralled in a movie theatre or in the library checking out stacks of books to read: I had no interest in cooking. Still haven’t baked a cake and don’t feel lessened by that. Two of my sisters are great cooks and bakers. My other sister and I are not. To each her own.

      • Erinn says:

        But Jerusha – if someone handed you a boxed cake mix with the directions, would you be able to follow the instructions?

        It just baffles me that she can have a career like acting but a box cake mix sent her into a panic. It’s not like the instructions are difficult – they make them super simple on purpose.

        These are the Duncan Hines banana cake mix instructions:
        You will need: 1 cup water, 3 large eggs, 1/3 Cup vegetable oil.

        Step 1 Prep Preheat oven to 350ºF for metal and glass pan(s), 325ºF for dark or coated pan(s). Grease sides and bottom of pan(s) and flour lightly. Use baking cups for cupcakes.

        Step 2 Mix Blend cake mix, water, oil and eggs in a large bowl at low speed until moistened (about 30 seconds). Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter in pan(s) and bake immediately.

        Step 3 Bake in center of oven following chart below. Add 3–5 minutes for dark or coated pan(s). Cake is done when toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake(s) in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cake(s) from pan and cool completely before frosting.

      • Jerusha says:

        Erinn. I could follow the instructions, but I can’t guarantee the outcome. My style of cooking frequently ran this way-I’d put something in the oven or on the stovetop, sit down with a book, , then when smoke came billowing out of the kitchen, I’d be like Oops, I guess it’s ready. Fortunately, my late husband loved playing chef so he did most of the cooking. I did attempt a loaf of bread once. It was a brick. I go to a bakery now for bread.
        I used to make banana bread from a mix. I added a mashed banana and walnuts to the mix, but I don’t consider that cake. And I made very good oatmeal cookies using the 1962 or 64 Joy of Cooking recipe. I’m not totally hopeless, just not a big sweets eater or a big eater at all.

      • Mo says:

        My recollection is she had a rough childhood. Single mom w/asshole boyfriends, food insecurity, didn’t go to college right away because of her younger siblings. Ended up with a degree from Julliard, but multiple steps to get there.

        So, yeah. Maybe not with the cake baking. Also, people just get a hangup about something like this they haven’t ever done before. It’s not hard, but you don’t trust the instructions because they seem too simple.

    • emmy says:

      I love baking and am fairly good at it but if you have no idea how important the science aspect is, you can really eff up. I had the worst time with American recipes at first because even our German cream cheese is different. Ingredients matter. Less fat can absolutely ruin things. My sister tried to make a carrot cake and thought grating carrots and pureeing them were interchangeable 😂 They’re really not. I had a cookie disaster happen yesterday. Again because of the damn cream cheese. If you think baking is like cooking, you’re screwed.

      I would not post my kitchen disasters for the world to see though. Nobody cares.

    • SamC says:

      The only time I’ve ever baked a cake was middle school. home ec, which has gone the way of personally typing as a school curriculum. I agree fundamental cooking skills are important, ie how to boil water and do basics, but not sure learning how to bake a cake is essential as I’m now in my 40′s and have never had a situation come up where I needed that particular skill. Having one good party dip has gotten me this far, lol!

      • Nancypants says:

        You know what else they don’t teach in High School these days?
        History and Geography and cursive. I don’t think they have typing classes anymore.
        My fingers fly on a computer keyboard while my younger folks are hunting and pecking with two fingers.
        My husband bribed both daughters to take typing courses at home when they were about 12.
        They are good at it

        My daughters are very intelligent; straight A students, academic scholarships, the older one graduated Summa Cum Laude from her University and do you know what she said to me one day? “Well, why don’t you just take a long weekend and visit California if you want to? It’s right next to us.”
        We live in Colorado.
        She thought we share a border with California.

        My youngest worker recently stated that he liked the benefits and travel of being in the military but he didn’t want to hurt anyone.
        I told him to consider the Coast Guard – mostly search & rescue – but then he kept talking.
        Finally, I said, “The world needs weed-smoking pacifists like you but it also needs people who are willing to fight to preserve your rights.”

        It went on a bit and then he said, “What does World War II and the Revolutionary War and the civil war have to do with anything?” You could have heard a pin drop.
        I told him I was going to send his dumb ass to college.

        YOU have to teach your kids at home as well and if you have little daughters, granddaughters OR boys these books are a way to get these kids reading about history at a very early age.

      • Jerusha says:

        I was a public school librarian for 40 years and know they do still teach history. My 17 yo grandson is currently studying American History. But, yeah, geography, handwriting, typing have pretty much gone the way of the dodo.

      • Nancypants says:

        p.s. Meant to state American Girl doll books.

      • Spicecake38 says:

        My daughter is 17-never has she had specific geography class or typing in school,but she has had a lot of history and when she was young she had computer classes at school where typing was taught as part of the class.
        She also was never taught cursive,but she is artistic and has beautiful writing that is sort of a combination of print/cursive.

        My friend tutors my daughter on occasion and she has many many students.She told me that on day a teenage boy looked at her bookshelves and pointed to a dictionary and asked what it was…
        Technology is great but basics are definitely necessary.

      • My3cents says:

        ו was a bit shocked recently to have to explain to a teenager how to write an address and where to put a stamp on a envelope.

      • lucy2 says:

        My3cents YES. I’ve had to explain that to 2 different college freshman in the past 2 years. And one of them still royally f’ed it up.
        The handwriting is also atrocious. I know we don’t need to hand write as much as we used to, but we still have to fill out forms and stuff. These two look like they write with their feet!
        A friend of mine is a college professor in her 30s, and many of the lower classmen drive her crazy with all the basic stuff they can’t do.

      • Anne Call says:

        My sons who graduated high school in 2003 and 2007 both had keyboarding in, I think, 3rd grade. They grew up in Silicon Valley so maybe it was a little ahead of the curve, but those skills are really important for everyone now. I do think some cooking for both sexes wouldn’t be a bad skill. In my day, the girls had cooking and sewing in 7th grade and boys all did shop and printing. Prehistoric times.

    • Leriel says:

      I’ve never baked a cake, my mom always kept me away from stove, because she is a perfectionist and keeps everything clean, so I wasn’t allowed to cook because I never do it good and I never clean after myself well. She always argues with my dad about cleaning up kitchen after cooking, but he still can cook there, I can’t when I am at home.

      • Vauvert says:

        What… that is crazy, sorry. How can you learn to cook or bake without trying, making errors, learning from an experienced cook (she sounds like she is); cooks mess up a kitchen, then it gets clean. If you want a showroom kitchen just get takeouts😉 Yes, I want my kitchen clean too AFTER cooking so when I finish teaching my son how to bake and cook and we make recipes together so he can learn, then we clean. No big deal.
        I consider cooking and to a lesser extent baking a life skill. Some folks don’t and that’s fine, bakeries and restaurants need to make a living too, lol. But for those who want to learn, it is not hard. The problem is that if a new / inexperienced person just pulls up a recipe without having acquired the basic skills needed to complete the steps involved, they’ll have an epic fail and then they’ll declare “I can’t cook”. Anyone can learn to cook, but you need to start with the basics, and that means making an omelette, making a stock, cooking a hamburger (cast iron pan and season it properly). A lot easier to pick up young, like anything else, particularly if you learn from a parent. It just happens organically… but it’s easy now to learn, there are so many videos, books, blogs, I mean…. I think celebs get a monthly list from their PR person on how to be relatable and kitchen disasters is between bikini pics by the pool and getting glam for the ceremony #didnotwakeuplookinglikethis

    • Skyblue says:

      Absolutely cannot relate. Baked first horrid cake in 5th grade(too much baking soda, tasted like soap but my dad ate it) and few good ones since. Transitioned to baking oatmeal cookies and huge vats of caramel popcorn in high school. My specialty now is pie and an occasional really good pizza. Just seems weird to have not ever have baked a cake. 🤷‍♀️

  2. Snowslow says:

    Ok so this is a new era for sure (sorry to be so slow to catch up) where celebs have a filmmaker and editor on hand (it’s not just you anymore Beyoncé!) and post things to (unlike Beyoncé) look relatable and cute.
    It’s so frigging artificial. At least Beyoncé posts to show us all that at least in her mind and the one of fans she is the queen of all queens.
    I want my actors with a certain mystery (making exceptions for activism yes Fonda! yes Woodley! yes Ruffalo! etc.) so that I can ENJOY THE MOVIES THEY MAKE.
    Who cares how and where they live? I don’t want Chastain to be anything other than celluloid. Or a good interview maybe about HER ROLES and method.
    👎🏼

    • The Recluse says:

      I’m guessing an assistant who usually works for her helped or a friend or two who are professionals.

  3. Nancypants says:

    I’m a great cook. I don’t bake if I can help it and for the most part…I can.
    There are several really good Bakers around here.

    Cooking is an art. Baking is a science especially at this elevation.

    I do bake a little but I don’t enjoy it.
    I’ve never made a brick but I’d rather pull my toenails out with pliers than frost a dang cake.

    • jenner says:

      Amen to all this!

    • Ali says:

      “Cooking is an art. Baking is a science.”

      That explains why I’m a much better baker than cook. I cook as a necessity. I bake because it’s fun.

    • Arpeggi says:

      Baking is a science… but a cake mix isn’t, you just add oil or eggs or water, whatever the instructions say to the mix and put it in a greased plate and then in the oven. If you can read and follow a script, you should be able to make a cake from a box.

      • Vauvert says:

        Wait, I did not watch the video yet, it was from a box? Oh wow that is sad. How can you possibly mess that up?

  4. Astrid says:

    love the green dress. hard to imagine people don’t know how to bake a cake

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      Especially from a BOX.

      I used to make homemade/scratch cakes for family birthdays, cookies, banana bread, yada yada. I don’t particularly enjoy it, so have wiggled out of that task successfully. I’d rather make a kick-ass dinner.

  5. The Recluse says:

    A little baking is pretty much it or cooking up and heating up stuff. Painting and writing are my forte. But I am envious of those who can do all that and then go into the kitchen and whip up some fabulous meal.

  6. lucy2 says:

    I love that gown! So pretty. Kind of surprised she has social media though, but kudos to her for keeping her child private.
    I’m not a good cook, but a decent enough baker. I still tend to mess things up though.

  7. QueenMeow says:

    I’ve baked plenty of cookies, brownies, desserts, etc., but I just baked my first cake this past Thanksgiving for my daughter’s first birthday. I’m 36. I’ve never needed to make a cake before! My husband always wants ice cream cake! And one of our closest friends is an actual professional baker!

  8. Lila says:

    I love cooking and learned from a young age. But that said, my mom was very much a “pinch of this, a smidge of that, why measure when you can approximate, and the recipe is only there as a suggestion” kind of cook. I’m very much the same.

    Its a bad mindset for baking. Either I’m following the recipe (and feeling handcuffed), or approximating and I come out with wacky results at the end.

    • The Recluse says:

      Yeah, my adjustments end up making the meal inedible. Sigh.

    • Erinn says:

      I do that for cooking. I’ll wing it most of the time, or make some alterations here and there.

      But baking, the only thing I really play around with is frosting flavoring. Everything else I just follow.

  9. Yiza says:

    Do all celebrities have such highly produced content on their instagrams? She probably hired someone to make and edit this. It seems so fake.

  10. Minxx says:

    I love her little IG stories. They’re totally done and edited by her assistant but still very cute. Check out the one from Mexico, it’s a riot.

  11. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Whether you bake or don’t isn’t what’s frustrating to me. I’ve baked some awesome things, and I’ve baked horrendous things. It is funny when your masterpiece is a monstrous fail. Of course I’m speaking for my family. BUT. I’ve never taken the fail, iced it, decorated it and ‘ta-da’d’ to recipients lol.

  12. Sparkly says:

    I’m a cook, not a baker, but I’m trying very hard to learn how to bake. I just burned cinnamon rolls yesterday, but the cookies came out okay. I’ve never made a homemade cake. I don’t see why that’s hard for some people to fathom when a box mix costs a buck and a half. If I want a fancy one, I order it. I’m disabled though too, so most of my cooking uses any shortcuts I can unless I’m loaded on spoons that day.

    • Anne Call says:

      Great British baking show inspired me to make bread. I’m now making a round loaf of walnut and olive bread every week. Goes great with homemade soup!

  13. Thea says:

    I like to bake and I like to cook.

    But if I think about it, I’ve never made a cake before either. Not a cake cake anyways. I’ve made cheesecake, cake pops, pies, cookies, brownies, tarts, bread, etc. And it’s probably cause I don’t necessarily like cakes. Lol.

  14. Texas says:

    I found that video to be so annoying that it almost makes me not like her anymore. Baking a cake from a box is really hard to screw up. But that is not the problem for me. Just so cutesy and produced.

  15. Amelie says:

    Sooo I know I’m going to sound so snobby but cake mixes from a box are always awful to me. I can tell the difference between a box cake mix and a cake baked from scratch. I grew up with a French father and he inherited my grandmother’s love for cooking and baking (yes he loves both!). He just made a crumble yesterday because he “felt like it.” He makes a yule log for Christmas from scratch and the accompanying crème anglaise. So I grew up spoiled. His version of brownies which he calls “gateau au chocolat” is far superior to any brownie mix. In fact as soon as I put a brownie made from a mix into my mouth I spit it out, that stuff tastes like cardboard. I also can tell simply from the texture. I did not necessarily inherit my dad’s love of cooking/baking but I’m decent when I’m in the mood. My gluten free banana bread recipe is bomb and people can’t even believe it’s GF when I tell them it is that good.

    • Louisa says:

      “Sooo I know I’m going to sound so snobby”

      Yes, you sure did.

    • Arpeggi says:

      Of course a cake mix will taste different from a cake made from scratch! That’s because they use different ingredients! In most cases, you’ll start your cake by mixing room temp butter with sugar until it whitens and then add your eggs and then the dry ingredients. In most mixes, there’s no butter, you add water, oil and eggs to the dry stuff: it creates a different texture and an obviously different taste. But while I tend to make all my cakes from scratch, I’ll agree with the Barefoot Contessa that a good quality cake mix is fine if in a hurry (because making a 3-layers cake can be a 2 or 3 days job with all the cooling down before frosting and not everyone wants to/can plan for that. The pour fondant for eclairs need to be made almost a week in advance for the sugar to do its thing! I’m not going to judge anyone for not wanting to go through all that and simplifying the process by going with a store-bought version. I’m also never going to spit out a cake someone made because parts came from a mix!

  16. Lucky Charm says:

    When my daughter was ten she wanted to bake a cake. After a while she called me in to the kitchen for help because the cake had been baking but wasn’t rising or getting firm at all. I picked up the box to read the directions and it felt heavy. I realized that she had never opened the box to add the cake mix, she had just been baking eggs, oil and water lol. She now rarely bakes, but she cooks the most delicious food.

  17. JanetDR says:

    It is not relatable. I wasn’t a!lowed to cook on the stovetop as a kid but I made dessert from 7 or 8 years on. Cakes are easy. I will never understand why people bother with mixes. Even at a dollar store, you are paying too much for sugar and flour. The worst thing that can happen is it gets stuck in the pan if you are doing a layer cake!

  18. Elsie says:

    No, it’s not relatable nor endearing. She’s what, 45-50? I think it is generally good for people to know how to do stuff (bake a cake, change a tyre, you name It). There are tutorials and youtube and if you are able to follow simple directions you will end with an ok result.