It has been said that people are so unpredictable that if you give one recipe to four cooks, you’ll get at least six versions of the same dish. This is quite true even for baking.
Over the years, one can find making a specific cake recipe and at one point or another something somehow turns out a less than acceptable result. A recipe can be tried and tested but different factors can still affect results. This is quite common when we try a recipe from the internet. It can be posted by the originator which gives him or her the authority to say that it has never failed him or her but when you try it for yourself, you end up with results that are not the same with the pictures posted online.
The following are suspects to that recipe slip up:
1. Room temperature. Because the internet makes it possible for us to “visit” different countries and connect with people of different nationalities. We sometimes forget that their kitchen has a different room temperature from our own. Tropical countries trying out recipes that have originated from countries of cooler climate will have the tendency to misinterpret “keep ingredients at room temperature about 1 hour prior to mixing”.
2. Product Brands. An all-purpose flour may have different content ratios so it may be best to look at the ingredients list of an item you need to mix in a batter or dough, especially if you are considering to use the “pre-mixed”, “re-constituted” or “instant” kind of ingredients. Brand labels differ from one country to another and different brands have something unique to offer so that they will be the choice in the market. These differences in the product may spell a difference in the results.
3. Altitude Baking. Ever wonder why some cakes you try out aren’t rising as it should based on the pictures you see online? Wendy Rice talks about Altitude adjustment and how it affects baked items on this page: http://www.swcoloradohome.com/articles/food/020114_b.asp
4. Humidity. Sometimes the place we work it affects the reaction you get between the ingredients of your batter. It even affects the shelf-life of the ingredients and the finished product. Moisture in the air makes these susceptible to bacterial growth particularly if this is paired with warm room temperature. This is also why there is a need to control the environment where you work. Say for example you are using yeast in your recipe, in a humid and warm room, your bread proofing time may be shortened so you will have to keep an eye on the size of the risen dough and not on the clock. But because of the humidity, you will also have to be more careful in using yeast.
Basically, looking at the list above, the main factor for differences in output will be geography. 🙂 but thanks to technology and tons of help you can also access online, people trying and testing recipes will be more guided as they search for the best recipe of a dish.
There may be other factors that affect the output of a dish you are trying for the first time, but also think that these “superb recipes” aren’t done overnight. Being tried and tested means you have done painstaking efforts to achieve the result you will come to love.