In last week’s post I shared just a few of the many examples I have to draw upon from my catalogue of kitchen fails. As there’s so many examples of failure I managed to create an overspill post and so I present to you Part 2 of Kitchen Fails. Before I launch into them I first need to correct an inaccuracy from last week’s post. In my story about pancake rage I need to specify that what I’m actually talking about here is the thin large pancakes, called crepes and typically served on Shrove Tuesday. What I do make regularly, and also have much more success with, are the American style pancakes. If I’m being honest, I have had the occasional fluffy pancake fail but I’m sure you’ll hear all about them in due course. Right, well now I’ve sorted that out, Kitchen Fails Part 2 here we go!
Baking powder and bicarbonate of soda are not the same
I’m sure I’m not the first and I doubt very much that I’ll be the last. I mean, this is such a rookie mistake! And it’s a mistake you only make once. If you’re fortunate enough not to have made this substitution I’m sure you can imagine the results. It was supposed to be a chocolate cake but it was flat and dense and not at all the light, airy cake I was hoping for. I’m sorry to say it was a disappointment to eat and I was reminded of my incompetence with each and every bite. Even the fact it was chocolate was not enough to save it.
Engage brain before blender
Do you ever have moments when out of desperation, you do something which you suspect is ill advised? But you do it anyway? Like when you attempt to take something out of the oven without first putting on oven gloves? Or when you are so frustrated with the burnt on crusty bits that you take wire wool to the brand new baking tray? I had one such moment when trying to make pesto in the blender. The rocket kept managing to evade the blade so I gave it a little nudge, just a little nudge you understand, with a wooden spatula. I came out of the experience unscathed. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the spatula. Needless to say, we didn’t have pesto that day.
Ganache is my nemesis
A fail every time although I’ve had a few breakthroughs lately. I really feel like I can make some headway on beating it. I follow the instructions yet the ganache always splits so I have to fix it. I’m an expert at ganache fixing. I need to be. The recipe say add cream to chocolate but when I do it the other way round and add the chocolate to warmed cream it works better. I might just make it like this all the time irrespective of what the recipe says. It honestly can’t turn out any worse than what I’ve seen so far.
Skimping on time does not a good buttercream make
The worst buttercream I’ve ever made was ironically my attempt to impress a baking friend. I admired her and was desperate for her approval. So, when we were both invited to the same house warming party I took the opportunity to rustle up a batch of my favourite vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing that I had made countless times before. The cupcakes are light and fluffy, delicious and easy to make. We had a lift coming to pick us up and as per usual I was disorganised and didn’t leave enough time to sufficiently cream the butter and sugar together for the buttercream. When I decorated the cupcakes I could tell from the texture and colour that the buttercream was not quite where I wanted it to be. At the party I offered my friend a cupcake and eagerly anticipated her feedback. Her face said it all as she bit into the buttercream. I felt bad. I’d done a really bad job and I’d shared it with people. It left me paranoid that the cakes wouldn’t get eaten but I saw people trying them through the evening and then I saw half eaten buns strewn around in places. Oh, how I beat myself up about this one. I had leftover buttercream which I thought was ruined but little did I know, or understand for that matter, that if the butter is given enough time to soften and then it’s beaten some more into the sugar it makes perfect buttercream. I ended up eating the leftover buttercream by the spoonful for a couple of days after to try to drown my sorrows.
Take care not to overcrowd the pan
More is definitely not merrier! I was confused as to why meat that I cooked in stews could be bathed in liquid yet still come out dry, tough and chewy. The problem was overcrowding yet it was a while before I realised this was the case even though the recipe instruction was to ‘cook in batches’ and ‘don’t overcrowd the pan’. There’s a science behind this instruction which I’m not going to go into here so in the event you are short of time or rushing and decide to throw all the meat into the pan in a oner know that your final stew will fall short of your expectations and will be less than perfect. Don’t overcrowd the pan!
Don’t throw the cooking liquid in with the raisins
This one wasn’t that long ago so I can’t blame my inexperience unfortunately. I made raisin, bourbon and granola cookies. The raisins were first cooked in liquid gold of bourbon and golden syrup before being added to the cookie dough. Except I didn’t read the instructions properly and added the raisins AND the cooking liquid. This turned the dough into a runny batter which, when baked, created these ridiculous gigantic frisbee discs of cookies. I kicked myself about this one and also felt really bad for the person due to receive them as a birthday gift (I’m so sorry!). I placed 5 pools of batter onto a baking tray which gradually turned into a sheet of cookie which I had to cut into pieces when it came out of the oven. All the cookies had square edges. It was a baking fail of gargantuan proportions.
I plan to make the cookies again, but this time I’ll read the instructions properly to avoid making a mess of them. Reading instructions, along with making sure I have enough time to cook should hopefully avoid any future fails but of course I can’t make any promises……….