Dismay at Donna Hay (sorry Donna!)36

Posted on July 3, 2008 by ChristieSweet Treats, Vegetarian

Not all their cracked up to be
[Donna Hay’s Self Saucing Chocolate Puddings]

It was with much trepidation that I posted that headline. I mean, all my Aussie readers will know what a powerful force Donna Hay is in the Australian food industry (and indeed too on the world stage) but yesterday I made one of her recipes and it didn’t work.

I followed the very short instructions carefully but I was very unhappy with results. I even got three taste testers to give me their comments (more on that in a minute) and there was mixed results. By my standards it was an absolute failure both in texture and taste.

As you know I only ever post original recipes and sometimes adaptations but I made an exception yesterday so that I could support Michelle at Thursday Night Smackdown for her First Thursdays event. Michelle is a very funny woman who loves swearing and has an excellent blog that features a recipe from her huge collection of cookbooks every Thursday.

For the very first one I wanted to feature a recipe from an Australian cooking icon and brag about how wonderful we are Down Under. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. Don’t get me wrong, I think Donna Hay is fantastic; the styling and photography in her cookbooks and magazines inspire me immensely. But this recipe did not impress me. Hay, you can’t be perfect all the time. (Sorry!)

The Bear very gently mentioned to me that maybe I hadn’t followed the recipe correctly and hence the result. I am willingly to accept that if it’s true. I think the problem is that Donna and I may have a different idea about what a self saucing pudding is. I believe the cake part on top should rise nicely and then a sticky syrupy sauce should remain underneath.

What do you think? Who is going to back me up here? Feedback please!

These puddings didn’t rise very much and then the ‘sauce’ was just uncooked cake batter underneath. I also had to cook it for 10 minutes extra than the recipe called for because I was concerned about the uncooked bit underneath. I thought if it had a bit longer in the oven then it would magically turn into sauce. I can’t help it, I always think positive.

So what did the testers have to say? (My comments in bold)

The Bear: It’s good, I like it. Nice amount of chocolate. (No, chocolate taste is bland)
My sister Nic: Soggy, no sauce. (Agreed, soggy cake batter, yuck)
Jmez (Bear’s brother): It tastes nice. (Is this some kind of sibling conspiracy?)

I realise I’m a perfectionist, but I think there’s something funny about this recipe, even though my testers liked it. I don’t think it’s true to the name. Can someone else please try it and let me know how they go?

For now, I’m going to stick with making up my own recipes. (Until the next First Thursdays event!)

Happy cooking, Christie

ps. Sorry this post is a bit negative. I’m just upset because I wanted it to go so right and it went the other way!

Self saucing chocolate puddings
recipe by Donna Hay Magazine Issue 39
serves 4

1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
1 1/2 tablespoons hazelnut meal
1/4 cup (45g) brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
35g butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (90g) brown sugar, extra
1 cup (250 ml) boiling water

Preheat oven to 180C (355F). Sift the flour, hazelnut meal, sugar, baking powder and 2 tablespoons of cocoa into a bowl. Add the milk, butter, egg and vanilla and mix well to combine.

Spoon into 4 x 1 cup-capacity (250ml) oven-proof dishes and place on a baking tray. Place the extra sugar and remaining cocoa in a bowl and mix to combine. Sprinkle over the puddings and pour over the water.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tops are firm.

  • I think you need to do a second round to be sure :)

  • Cheeky bugger, I hope you have slapped him for implying you’d stuffed up the recipe :P

    They don’t sound too appetising, but you styling has made them look very nice.

  • Arrhh… Come on Christie! They were yum :-)
    Maybe a second round is needed… just to be sure.

  • Wow I have no idea what a self saucing pudding is! I enjoyed your honesty about this though but it would be fun to see someone else make it.

  • Y

    Looks like a standard chocolate self saucing pudding recipe to me. Have to say, I’m more of a fan of putting actual chocolate (chopped and folded into the batter?) into chocolate puddings, rather than just having cocoa powder, otherwise the flavour never seems to be strong enough. Can’t imagine what could have gone wrong with your attempt. Was the pudding bit at least cakey?

  • Y

    Oh and I just remembered that I wanted to ask who your favourite NKOTB member was!

  • Hello Bear,
    Nice try babe. Actually, maybe I will try them again just to be 100% certain.

    Hi Leigh,
    No, you’ve taken it the wrong way! The Bear was very nice about it – I mentioned it so that people would know I’d taken my human error into consideration. ;)

    Hi Jmez,
    Thanks mate, but I disagree. At least you enjoyed it!

    Hi Noble Pig,
    OMG never had a self saucing pudding? I must post another successful recipe for you to try soon. One your boys (and you) will love!

    Hi Y,
    I definitely agree. The cocoa powder did not cut it. I was dubious before I did it, but can now confirm that chopped real 70% chocolate would have been infinitely better. But yes, at least the pudding bit was cakey.

    And to answer your question about NKOTB – Joey of course!!! ;)

  • Christie, I’ve made it!! You should have asked me and I hated it too. I think it’s just her style of self-saucing pudding. The only person who said it was nice was my friend who eats ANYTHING! And he’s a guy too. so my verdict is that’s a crap recipe. I’ve tried it twice and it came out the same way both times. Don’t feel bad. It’s not you, it’s Donna….

  • Hi Ju’eta,
    I should have thought to ask my best friend! Thank you for confirming this!!!

    Everyone – I am going to create the best self saucing pudding ever… stay tuned!

  • Oh no! That’s a shame. We don’t know Donna Hay at all over here – I wouldn’t know her if I passed her in the street! But it’s always disappointing when a recipe doesn’t work. I agree with you though, a self-saucing pudding should be set on top and then have the sauce at the bottom. Uncooked cake batter does not sound good!!

  • i was all, “but it’s only thursday morning,” and then realized 2 minutes later that australia just might be in a slightly different time zone than new york. i’m sharp like that.

    i’ve never had a self-saucing pudding either, so i’m excited for a christie original. not that i’d consider this one a failure; to fail you must fail SPECTACULARLY (e.g., fish dangle).

    thanks for playing!

  • I will take one for the team and whip this up this weekend Christie. We don’t have Donna Hay here in US so I’ll be a good impartial judge for you ;)

  • Hi Helen,
    Thank you for backing me up! I knew I wasn’t (totally) crazy!

    Hi Michelle,
    Yep, we’re half a day ahead! Thanks for the reassurance, but that’s the problem with being a perfectionist. Hope you get loads of entries!

    Hi Colleen,
    Thank you!!! Be sure to let me know what you think. I can’t wait to hear your results. :)

  • Annie

    Hmmm, I’ve just had a Donna Hay failure too – vanilla cake from Off the Shelf (I think – too lazy to go and look :)) The batter was far too thick so I added a whole cup of milk! And I always thought Donna was perfect…..

  • Christie…I’m sorry. They loved them. I half liked/ loved them.

    I just posted it :)

  • Hi Aimee,
    Oh no! Thanks for letting me know. With so many hundreds of recipes there’s sure to be a few duds ;)

    Hey Colleen,
    Thanks so much for testing them for me!
    I am glad you adapted the recipe and they worked out. I would have done the exact same thing if I wasn’t following the recipe to the letter for the First Thursdays Event. It definitely doesn’t work the way Donna suggests.

    Everyone – pop on over to Colleen’s blog to check them out!

  • :( I had a bad cake-baking experience today too, but that was because I was conducting a kitchen experiment :D. I’m sorry the recipe didn’t turn out.

  • yep…they are good if you don’t follow the recipe :)

    sounds like page from my life story lol!

  • good for you for being honest; at least we all know that self saucing is like free with no strings attached.

  • Well, they look really pretty :) I’m not big on Donna Hay but she certainly *seems* reliable, and it always sucks when a recipe doesn’t work out. *facepalm* I totally missed First Thursdays! And it’s so long to go till the next one…:(

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  • Great combo of flavors and it looks excellent!

  • It seems that our “celebrity chefs” have both let us down!

    Mario has led us astray!!!

  • They may not have tasted great- but you sure made them look nice! Looking at the ingredient list it doesn’t appear that much could go wrong, but I guess nothing (*gasp* not even chocolate) is foolproof…

    I love self-saucing cakes when they’re done right. I feel like I’m doing a magic trick with them!

  • wonderfull! mmm very tasty, thank you for note…

  • This looks delightful!

  • MissManly

    Donna Hay sucks big time and a lot of people think so.

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  • Pauline

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has tried a few Donna Hay recipes and failed dismally!

    • Hi Pauline, Thanks for your feedback! I actually made a chocolate cake of hers on the weekend and although it worked out fine, it didn’t taste very good. I think I give up! It’s much more fun to make up your own recipes :) Christie x

  • Tess

    I am shocked and appalled that there seem to be Donna Hay haters around!! Haha.. Personally I luuurrve Donna, and *most* of the recipes I have tried have been absolutely fabulous and a hit with all my friends/family. If you haven’t already, maybe try these favourites of mine which ALWAYS work:
    -> Raspberry-spiked chocolate brownies… (uses actual chocolate)
    -> Simple banana bread (I like to add almonds to this one)
    -> Chicken, lime and coriander quesadillas (so simple and loved by kids/adults alike)
    -> 5-spice chinese pork (my all-time favourite which I always overeat :( )

    I urge you not to give up completely on Donna, she is still amazing ;)

    • HI Tess, Thanks for the suggestions! It’s nothing personal against Donna – I absolutely adore her styling and photography, I’ve just had a bit of bad luck with her recipes. CCx

  • Ali H

    I mean no offense but I find DH recipes have been made so simple or cheats that with a little extra effort they would be delicious – sometimes her dood jet seems to be about the styling and not the flavor.

  • nueabdul

    I just made them yesterday! Didnt like it at all! But I have yet to lose hope in Donna Hay

  • addison de witt

    Why are people appologizing for the fact that they don’t care for Donna Hay’s books? Yes, they look stunning. But more often than not they simply don’t work. And that makes home cooks less than happy. I know how to cook, but these recipies fail so often, and taste so bland, it’s just not funny. Not that Miss Hay will mind of course, she’s laughing all the way to the bank. But if you want great tasting food that works every time and you want to support an Australian cook, try Jill Dupleix. With her you can’t miss.

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