There are certain meals that, when you go to a restaurant, you simply must order because you know how hard it is to make at home.
Not all recipes are as easy as your typical stir fry, so here are three of the hardest dishes to cook at home – as well as a couple of tips on how to master them.
Layered cakes with fondant
Layered cakes are extremely difficult for several reasons. Each cake must be even across the top so that each layer can balance perfectly on top of that. Usually, a cake would have a small bump or dip in the middle, but you need to avoid this for the perfect tier. Plus, the layers must be strong enough to support each other without falling in. On top of that – literally – applying fondant is a very technical skill that the professionals spend hours and hours practicing.
To get the cakes themselves even, you’ll either need to cut the tops or try out some ‘bake even’ strips, which work to keep the sides of your cake tins cooler so that the mix rises more evenly. As for the fondant, this is about endless practice, infinite patience, and the right tools.
There are multiple elements to a beef wellington that make it particularly tricky. The centre should be a perfectly cooked (medium rare) beef fillet, encased in a creamy mushroom mix, all wrapped up in a light, crisp pastry that’s also cooked to perfection. While it’s fiddly to put together, the hardest part is ensuring that both the beef and pastry are perfectly cooked.
The trick is to cook the beef first, then set it aside to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes as you chop and prep the mushrooms. This way, when you put the finished product in the oven, you are cooking the pastry, yet simply re-heating the meat. To create the perfect roll, lay out the mushroom mix on two sheets of plastic wrap and sit the fillet in the middle. You can then pull the edges of the wrap around the beef and twist the plastic ends to keep it in shape. Check out this Gordon Ramsay guide for a step-by-step recipe.
Tiny, delicious, and 100 per cent appetising, macarons are the pride of any baker. These meringue-based treats must be light and fluffy, they must not fall flat, and they must be as glossy as possible. Plus, baking them without paying much attention can lead to burnt outsides and sludgy insides, so the whole affair is really quite finicky.
There are many secrets to great macarons. For example, it’s best to avoid baking them on rainy or humid days when there is more moisture in the air. Many chefs will insist on not overfolding the egg whites, and it’s vital the oven is at exactly the right temperature. As all of these elements alone can be different for each person, much of this sweet recipe is about practice. We’ve found that these 10 tips from Honest Cooking are fantastically practical and useful for the home baker.