Tuesday, December 12, 2006

When good recipes go bad.

Following GlutenFreeGirl's brave lead, I want to share with you that I do make dishes that end up in the trash. Dishes that are too ugly and embarassing to photograph. Dishes that are so inedible there is no creative way to salvage them. I've made two such "losers" in the past week, in fact... Which is an all-time record.

First, we have a failure to follow directions. Folks, when the recipe says "proof the yeast," it really means "proof the yeast." If it doesn't bubble, don't use it. If you do use it anyway, you may end up with some bum yeast and have a "jelly donut" (a traditional Chanukah delicacy called sufganiyot) on your hands that looks like this:

NASTY! Not just ugly, but so awful that they ended up in the garbage (and you all know GF flours aren't cheap! What a waste.) Just be glad I didn't post a picture of the incinerated "donut holes" which were a dense, inedible ball of uncooked, unrisen dough with a fully incinerated black crust. It might have made you cry.

Oh, but that wasn't enough of a cooking disaster for the week. No, we also had the "Gluten-Free Chapati" experiment.

GROSS! This was a chickpea flour-based recipe. Now, I'm no fan of chickpea flour generally speaking, but it's hard to imagine how an ingredient that makes something as thoroughly tasty as the socca could also make something as utterly disgusting and inedible as this horrible attempt at the Indian flatbread I used to cook frequently when I could eat wheat. Don't be deceived by the picture - These babies were horrendous and I threw them straight in the garbage. I'll try a slightly more hopeful-looking gluten-free naan recipe soon and we'll see how it turns out.

I comforted myself after my latest culinary failture by cooking up a tried and true curry for dinner (recipe forthcoming), and settling in with a CSI rerun.


Unknown said...

I am cracking up at this - so glad you shared your cooking failures - I think it is important, especially when we are experimenting in the kitchen - always being great at cooking (and life) is intimidating. Now we know we're all just human beings, striving to bake the perfect cake, and taking our whole lives to get there.

Anonymous said...

Your persimmon cake looks delicious...I look forward to trying it one day.

Sea said...

These might have TASTED awful, but they look lovely... Sorry to hear they bombed, I know that feeling of shame well. My attempt at steamed buns comes to mind, sigh...

Anonymous said...

aww sorry about the doughnuts :(
howis cooking with gluten free flour different?
why don't you like chickpea flour? :( we use it a lot in Trinidad :)h

ByTheBay said...

TriniGourmet - I dislike the strong beany taste that comes through in certain recipes. As I wrote, I love chickpea flour in certain recipes like socca's and pakoras. But usually when I want to make a baked good I want a milder flavor.

As for baking with gluten-free flours, it is completely different. Gluten is the protein that makes wheat flour stretchy and wheat baked goods chewy. It binds and gives. Gluten-free flours don't do this on their own. You have to add guar or xanthan gum as a binder and if the balance of ingredients is not right, you will end up with a very dense or very crumbly dough. It is harder to get GF baked goods to stick together, to be chewy, to have any kind of give, and to have the right kind of mild taste you would want. There is little elasticity. It's not impossible, it's just harder.

~M said...

Ooh, I would be so happy if you would post if you find a recipe or revise the one that didn't work for gf suvganyeot (jelly donuts) and other Jewish treats.

Shauna said...

Yay! I'm so happy you posted this. Blogs could be such an easy way to trumpet ourselves all the time. But great cooking -- and life -- is about trying and laughing and continuing.

I was surprised to see how many people put comments on my post, saying, "Don't give up!" Or, "I figured it out!" Ay, that's not what it's about.

But I do think we live in a country that doesn't allow for many mistakes, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

that's really interesting about the replacements for the gluten : ) i've seen blocks of xantham in the drugstore but it didn't look edible? is that the same thing? :)
i've never baked with chickpea flour myself, it's always fried here :D

ByTheBay said...

Xanthan gum is a powder - Similar to baking soda, you add a very tiny amount to the dry ingredients of something you bake. Same with guar gum.