Thursday 23 June 2011

Good Cookbooks - Bad Cookbooks

Yesterday I was doing some baking - helping a friend with a bakesale. I decided not to be too adventurous with a new baby and all and thought I would do some brownies. I mean, you can't really go wrong with brownies...Or can you? I usually make them following the 'Chocolate' cookbook, by Linda Collister. They always work, though they are a little drier than I like my brownies to be - there is a whole debate on whether brownies should be dry or gooey, crunchy on top, or not etc! I prefer them to be fairly gooey and so thought I might try another recipe. So I went to my decently stocked cookbook bookshelves (it is obviously separate to the 'other' books bookshelves!) and picked the most exciting looking one for brownies - The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. Their cupcakes I have bought in their shops are always great and that was the best red velvet cake I have ever had!

To be honest, I am not sure why I decided this was a good idea - we had tried making the red velvet cupcakes from this book and they didn't work out very nice at all: they tasted very bitter. In fact since the book was first published, a few corrections have been issued for some of the recipes... In any case, I thought this recipe looked good enough and gooyer than Linda Collister's, so I went for it.

The mixture didn't look quite right, even as I poured it in the baking dish - it almost looked split... I put it in the oven and took my patient - till that point - daughter for her nap. I checked on them 30 minutes later, as the recipe suggested and they looked done and maybe slightly over. I took them out and let them cool, before I tried to cut them into pieces for the bakesale. They crumbled... One batch wasted! They tasted fine, but they were very sticky in texture, almost caramel-like. They definitely were not very gooey and I also found them a little too sweet.

I normally don't complain about recipes... I usually alter them slightly anyway, so if they fail, I only have myself to blame... But this time, I really made an effort. I wanted them to be perfect and stuck to the recipe exactly! I just found it so disappointing, really. And it made me want to have a rant about cookbooks with recipes that just don't work! Nigel Slater's recipes work, Leith's recipes mostly work (those scones are my nemesis!) and my mother's cookbook recipes work (she tested the recipes enough!), but the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, does not seem to have very success-prone recipes! I guess a good bakery does not necessarily make a good cookbook... Just thought I would give you a heads up! End of rant! x

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