One of the questions people ask me most often is whether I ever make something so bad that I don’t post it.
First of all: I don’t ever post anything here unless I think it’s actually good, not just not-horrible.
Second: yes. Unfortunately. There have been some recipes that I’ve been so proud of making, or absolutely convinced would be delicious, that ended up just falling flat.
There have actually been more of these failed recipes than I’d like to admit. But for the sake of sharing, here are three of my most memorable failed recipes.
So, without further ado, here are my top three recipe FAILS.
1. Persian Love Cake
Isn’t this cake gorgeous? I made two of them in this batch, and I can’t tell you how long I spent individually candying each mint leaf and rose petal to put on top of them. (It took multiple hours.) Each leaf and petal had to be flawless, both before I started candying it and after it was done. Any with weird brown spots, excess sugar lumps, or areas where the sugar coating had crumbled off was immediately rejected.
And if recipes were judged purely on how pretty they look or how long it took to make them, I would be thrilled with this one!
Unfortunately, after all that work, the cake itself didn’t live up to its decorations. It was dry, heavy, and not nearly as richly flavored as I had intended.
We gave away one of the cakes to a dear friend, and kept the other. Between the four of us at home, we ate less than half of it before sending it to the compost pile. To be honest, I was so discouraged by the failure after all that time candying the toppings that I haven’t yet tried again.
2. Pizza with chard, blueberries, chili flakes, ricotta, and agrumato
I was (and am) completely convinced that this topping combination should work on a pizza. The green, vegetal flavor of the chard should stand in perfect contrast to the sweetness of blueberries. Chili flakes should add a kick of heat. And ricotta should bind the flavors together and mellow them out. The agrumato (or lemon-infused olive oil) should emphasize the fruitiness of the blueberries and offer a bridge between that, the spicy chili flakes, and the vegetal chard.
It all makes sense in my head. It should work.
No matter which way I tried it, with the ingredients prepared differently in different proportions, it would not work. Never mind “three big bites” – I was lucky to make it through one bite of this pizza before composting the rest.
3. Orange blossom infused goats milk panna cotta with garlic and onion skin ash, fried fennel, and edible flowers
This is another recipe that was so beautiful that I desperately wanted to post it… but it didn’t quite work.
The problem with this one wasn’t the flavors. Onion skin ash and fried fennel might sound like an odd combination with orange blossom panna cotta, but they worked!
Instead, the problem was the texture. I needed to make these strictly vegetarian, so I couldn’t use gelatin for the panna cotta. No problem – I would substitute agar-agar! Unfortunately, the nearby store only had agar-agar in sheets, not powder form.
Try as I might, I couldn’t get the panna cotta to set properly with the agar-agar sheets. It got close, but it was a bit too watery. We didn’t have time before leaving the country to try again, so this recipe remains on the back burner for further future development.
And there you have it… my top three failed recipes! I hope that gives you some behind-the-scenes insight (and provides some reassurance that I’m very strict about not posting things that aren’t perfect, haha).
What was your worst “failed recipe” horror story? Was it a recipe you were inventing, or one from a cookbook or blog that just didn’t work? Share in the comments or shoot me an email to let me know – I’d love to sympathize!