The science and art of recipe testing

recipe testing 

If you Google the phrase “chicken recipes” you’ll get over 74 million results. The vast majority of those recipes – as well as a surprising amount of cookbook recipes – are published without any testing at all. That means it can be difficult to know which recipes are worth trying. LA Times food writer Noelle Carter takes a look at the art and science of recipe testing.

Carter spoke to veteran cookbook author Rose Levy Beranbaum as well as Nancy Silverton. Of the latter, Carter recalls an episode in the Times’ test kitchen when they were testing Silverton’s focaccia recipe. Testers made iteration after iteration of the bread, 43 different batches in all. “You’re tired of it, aren’t you?” Silverton joked to Carter one evening. Carter recalls that they had fine-tuned “everything from the amount of yeast to the proper percentage of protein in the bread flour to get the texture just right (Silverton used flour flown in from Italy at the restaurant, and we had to find a suitable alternative).” After 43 tests, Silverton finally approved the results. As for Carter? “I was pleased, but also tired of focaccia,” she says.

Beranbaum also stressed the importance of testing. “It’s more important than anything to be able to trust the author,” she told Carter. The legendary baker and award-winning author continued, “When a recipe doesn’t work, people often blame themselves.” Of course EYB Members are at an advantage, as the recipes indexed on this site are from trusted sources so you don’t have to roll the dice with a Google search. In the case of chicken recipes, you still have a plethora of choices – over 14,000 online recipes – but you also have the ability to see what others thought about many of the dishes.

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