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6 Reasons Why You May Fail At Replicating A Recipe

07 March 2019 | 2 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in Masterchefs

How to avoid a failed recipe

They say change is as good as a holiday and trying new things is a must if you are to experience all the world has to offer. One of the simplest and fastest ways is to attempt to cook something you've never made before, it sounds nice in theory but in practice, it can be an entirely new ball game. I think we're all guilty of trying to steal a friend or family members recipe, try something we saw on the food network or Pinterest only for it to turn out a flop.

Facing the disappointment of your cake coming out flat, your meat overcooked or your stew is too bald can really hurt one's ego and shy you away from attempting new dishes. You start to question yourself since you had all the instructions how did it all end up going so wrong? It doesn't make sense.

Certainly, recipes sometimes do have errors or fail to mention a step or explain a technique but the end product still lies with you and if you are to improve your dishes you need to eliminate possible issues that could affect your meal preparation.

1. Oven Temperature is off

Depending on the use or age of your oven it may not be giving you a fair reflection between dial temperature and actual temperature. You can solve this by picking up a cheap oven thermometer. Ovens are often several degrees warmer or cooler than the numbers on the dial and having an oven thermometer means you know exactly how much to adjust the oven to compensate.

2. Changing an ingredient

Going off-recipe is a fun and creative part of the cooking process, for sure. But it also requires a little more due diligence on our part to understand how the additional or substitute ingredient will affect the recipe. If you are going to change something don't expect it to be exactly the same, each ingredient you change will have a ripple effect on the end product. 

3. Changing equipment

If the recipe says to use an 8-inch pan or a cast-iron skillet, there’s probably a good reason for it. That doesn’t mean we can’t substitute something else, but you need to understand that this can and will affect the outcome of the dish.

4. Changing the cooking time

Recipes are often written with the expectation that you’re following along to the T and have all the right ingredients and equipment to recreate the process. Even if you do, there is still room for errors that could change the outcome of your meal. For example, if you pause in the middle of making a cake and come back to it an hour later, some chemical reactions might have taken place that the recipe didn’t intend because it thought the cake would go right in the oven. Same goes for shortening the cooking time – like the time for bread to rise or a roast to cook. The result might be different.

5. Trusting your own judgment

Recipes are by no means a set science and aren’t fail-proof and they also can’t take into consideration every variable in your kitchen or region, like how cold your eggs are or how strong your whisking arm can be. All these aspects leave room for errors or ways to alter the outcome of your dish. So when you're following the steps don't try to match exact times but use your judgement to try and match the look and feel of the process as closely as you can.

6. Portion sizes

When trying to follow a recipe often it caters to a portion for 4 people. If you're planning to cook for 2 or 6 or any in between you may need to scale up or down the ingredients or prepare it in batches in order to maintain the ratio of ingredients and retain the taste and look you're trying to achieve. 

Own your kitchen

Recipes are guidelines and the kitchen is your domain so make your dishes your own, throw some of your own essences into it and how knows you may even improve it or create something new. Once you've mastered your dish its time to show off your efforts so why not post it on social media and don't forget to use some popular food-related hashtags when you do.

Tell us your tasty story

These five reasons are the ones that count of the most when it comes to affecting a dishes taste and presentation and seem to be the most common. Do you know of any other reasons have you come across in your cooking for why a recipe doesn’t come out quite right? Share it with us in the comments.

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Recommended reading

If you have time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole regarding meal preparation then we suggest you check out the following articles:

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