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 Post subject: Cooking time fail
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:57 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 1:03 am
Posts: 5129
Location: Portland, OR
I'm pretty sure we've had a thread on this already, but I can't find it, so here goes again:

I've generally found that the biggest technical mistake cookbook authors make is cooking times. That is, far more often than they mismeasure ingredients or leave them out, or have fractions which don't add up to the total, or have steps out of order, they underestimate cooking times, usually by 50 to 70%. Sometimes they leave out times for steps entirely.

So it was for me with the recent cookbook Salmagundi by Sally Butcher. The first recipe I tried from the cookbook was a barley salad, in which she gives a 20-minute cooking time for pearl barley; wrong by about 25 minutes (this, combined with some other steps left out in the recipe, made a nice salad into a disaster). I don't know that I'll try anything else from the cookbook, we'll see.

I think this underestimation of cooking times comes from wishful thinking; the chef adds up the cooking times from their notes and realizes it adds up to 2.5 hours and who's ever going to make that, really? So they round some stuff down. Or like Butcher, they forget about cooking times for some steps entirely.

What cooking time failures have you read in recipes recently?

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 Post subject: Re: Cooking time fail
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:55 pm 
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I have also noticed this with higher heat cooking, since terms like "medium high heat" are vague, at best, and the high heat on one range is different from the next. After a while, you get to know your range and the types of foods being cooked, but for somebody starting out, "cook until browned" doesn't tell them much, but you can't really put a time on it, either. And the times for stir-fries vary greatly, depending on the heat output of the burner. Some authors give suggestions on how to do this with lower heat burners, but most just say cook over high heat.

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 Post subject: Re: Cooking time fail
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:49 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:41 pm
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Location: Near Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I've found with the oatmeal raisin cookies in Bouchon that they take 3-4 minutes longer even if I'm making them 1/4 the suggested size.
And I make a great sour cream coffee cake from Robin Hood that calls for 65 minutes that is done in 45.


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