Culture Magazine

The Flops of 2013

By Crushland @crushland

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that I spend a lot time in the kitchen. Most of my recipes are experimental and I don’t always follow recipes the way I should, which leads to a lot of trial and error (read: flops) to get it right.

My earliest cooking memory is when I was about five or six, sitting at the kitchen table watching my mom cook away, while turning the sandy vegetable peels and other offcuts into a ‘soup’. My dad happily obliged when I offered it to him, assuring me it was delicious! Since then I was an avid and adventurous cook, graduating from backyard mud pies (my dad did not try these) and sandy soups onto after school lunches in primary school which usually involved eggs and loads of cheese.

This was when I realized how earth shattering a flop could be. How could the world be such a cruel place? Soggy french toast could ruin your whole (twelve year old) day, and a broken egg yolk of a sunny-side-up was enough to send me into a fit of angry tears. It was tossed out of the back door into the dog’s bowl or onto a poor sibling’s plate until I got my yolk right. I still hate broken yolks. And lets not talk about the peanut butter curry when I was sixteen.

These days I have my own family who love my cooking, but who are a bit wary when they see me trying something new. Tactfully, a recent runny quiche was named Pizza Pudding by Uthmaan and they all assured me it was still very delicious. Or I’d throw it in the bin and nobody would eat for days.

Here are some of the worst best of 2013:

1. Chocolate Eclairs

Profiteroles and I have a long history. I love eating them, and hate making them. They are so temperamental! I managed to make a perfect batch for the Freshly Blogged competition, but the next time it turned out like this:


Scrambled and hateful.



The second attempt was a lot better, except it turned out like this:


Refusing to be beat, I tried a third time while everyone ran for cover at my increasing frustration. Finally, the THIRD attempt and it was perfect. Or at least perfectly camouflaged by decadent chocolate ganache



2. Mascarpone Frosting gone wrong

So I thought that a fluffy Mascarpone frosting would be perfect on a chocolate cake. I went out to get a tub, added precious vanilla bean, castor sugar and cream and proceeded to beat with a mixer. It looked so luscious.


UNTIL IT STARTED TO CURDLE. I frantically Googled ways to save the precious mix and I found a number of tricks that was supposed to work. The first: refrigerate until cold to stabilize the fat, add icing sugar to absorb the excess moisture. The second: place bottom of bowl in warm water and beat. So who was lying??

I tried the first, then the second and it was worse than before. Apparently I had to drizzle the cream in slowly while beating. NOW I know.


3. Slow Cooked Beef

I decided to try my hand at the slow cooked beef for Freshly Blogged, but for my first attempt I added a can of chopped tomatoes to the marinade, which turned the dish into a stew instead of falling-apart morsels of meat.


For the second attempt, I used tomato puree and it turned out perfectly.


4. Beetroot, Cucumber and Lentil Hummus

Do NOT try this at home. It looks weird, and tastes strange, and nobody will want to eat it except the spores that will grow on it after a few weeks in the fridge.


5. Spun Sugar

Remember this? I was particularly proud of this dessert.


But this is how it looked before! I didn’t boil the sugar syrup long enough the first time.



6. Cucumber Sorbet

I was confident about this one at the start. I mean, all you have to do it freeze the pureed cucumber syrup, right? WRONG.

I left it for a few hours, and then overnight, but it was still just a cold thick syrup. Maybe it was the sugar content? I kept adding water to the mixture until eventually on the third day it started to form icicles and firmed up enough to scoop. 

7. Bread

I wish I could blame this on the bread maker machine, but I did adjust the recipe somewhat. I added too much liquid and used a different type of flour and ended up with a bucket-shaped loaf with a wet, soggy center.


8. Chocolate Cream Cheese Pie

I found this chocolate pie on the interweb somewhere and fell in love with it. I just had to make it. At first glance, it looks perfect. It tasted perfect too, but the textures just did not turn out the way I wanted. You could call this a partial flop.

Firstly, it did not look like it did on the original recipe’s picture. I hate that. Instead of smooth, even and velvety it was cracked and wrinkled.


So I decided to add a cream cheese and vanilla bean frosting, dusted with cocoa and berries.


Perfect, right?

When I sliced it, I noticed that it didn’t have that creamy silky texture of the recipe either. It was intensely dark chocolatey, and rich with double thick cream, but why wasn’t it smooth and silky like a set custard?


The addition of the vanilla cream cheese definitely saved this, with pops of gooseberries inside.


So there you go. My most annoying and frustrating flops for 2013.

I wish you all a happy and safe NYE, and a wonderful, flop-free 2014!

Take care xx

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