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Soggy pastry and sunken soufflés- our cooking achilles heels

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Soufflé, beef wellington and baked Alaska are the dishes Brits find the most stressful to cook, research has revealed. Wrestling with the souffle rising – or not as the case may be – makes this a difficult dish for the 46% of Brits who have attempted to make the posh French dessert.

One in ten found their soufflé rose to the point of collapse, 15% said theirs sunk, 89% suffered from ‘wonky’ puddings and one in twenty burnt them.

The study of 2000 adults found more than half of adults have run into issues while cooking beef wellington with overcooking the meat and ending up with soggy pastry the main problems.

Ensuring the ice-cream in the baked Alaska doesn’t melt also causes problems, making it the third trickiest meal to cook.

The dishes were revealed following a study carried out by oven makers Stoves, which found that recreating a popular profiterole dessert was also likely to leave cooks flapping.

Puff pastry, home-made croissants and the Spanish dish paella were also all listed as tricky dishes to master.

A spokesman for Stoves said:

“Cooking is a subjective thing and a dish that one person may struggle with another person may find easy.

“But there are some meals that are notoriously hard to perfect.

“Any dish that has many components that you have to marry together such as beef wellington or baked Alaska is a challenge for even experienced cooks. ‘’This research proves it can take years to accomplish staple things like pastry and even gravy. ‘’But practice really does make perfect and more attempts you have at making something, the easier it is likely to get.”

The poll found that over a quarter of respondents said perfecting simple dishes like poached eggs and omelettes is often harder than cooking complicated meals.

Salmon en croute, meringue, beef bourguingnon and risotto were also listed as difficult dishes.

The common mishap to make with risotto was forgetting to continually stir the rice, resulting in the majority of the dish being stuck on the bottom of the pan.

More than half of those studied said the thing they mess up the most is the timings and one in ten said they can never set the oven temperature correctly.

Weighing ingredients correctly stumps 14 per cent of amateur chefs and 12 per cent admit to not reading the recipe correctly.

More than one in ten have messed up so badly they couldn’t serve the food at a dinner party they were hosting.

One in ten adults don’t make it easy for themselves and like to attempt the most difficult dish possible so they can ‘outdo’ all their friends.

A more sensible 31 per cent like to always serve something they have cooked before and 42 per cent said their motto was to ‘keep it simple’.

But one in twenty admit to leaving all the cooking to their other half at dinner parties, preferring to take charge of music and drinks.

A spokesman for Stoves said:

“Dinner parties can be stressful, but the key to pulling off the best food for guests is all in the preparation.

“Tempting as it is to show off and cook something complicated, it could backfire, so it may be an idea to have a trial run beforehand.”


1. Soufflé

2. Beef Wellington

3. Baked Alaska

4. Chocolate profiteroles

5. Puff pastry

6. Croissants

7. Paella

8. Salmon en croute

9. Meringue

10. Chocolate fondant

11. Beef Bourguingnon

12. Scallops

13. Risotto

14. Coq au vin

15. Pavlova

16. Hollandaise sauce

17. Gravy

18. Pate

19. Béarnaise Sauce

20. Crepes Suzette


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