I came across this article in The Kitchn recently, and it reminded me of a draft I’ve had in my head for months now, wanting to share this with you.

In the almost (gulp!) five years that I’ve been writing this blog – as well as creating food content for various other sites – I’ve been doing more baking than I ever have in the 30 years since I first fired up my Kitchen Aid.

And a big part of the process involves scouring dozens and dozens of blogs, books, magazines and web sites – for recipe ideas, inspiration and information.

I’ve also had my share of “fails” along the way – which are often a good thing, as it gives me the opportunity (sometimes) to correct mistakes, or streamline the process before I put a recipe up here for you.

But what if the recipe is simply “bad”? So many times I’ve said to friends – after their own culinary failures – “you know, it could have just been a bad recipe”.

And there is such a thing – occurring more often than you’d think. This is particularly true on-line, where the pressure of getting FABULOUS AMAZING PINTERSTWORTHY INSTAGRAMREADY posts up – in record time – has never been greater. Mistakes happen – even on the big sites – and whether it’s a typo, an ingredient omission or a recipe that hasn’t been thoroughly tested before publication, it is nonetheless super frustrating to spend time, effort and money on a dessert that is a total flop.

So what can you do? How can you know, in advance, if a recipe is going to work?

The Kitchn article has great suggestions, but my very favorite – and the one that I now use almost every single time – is to read the comments.

read the comments

This happened for my by accident, about a year ago when I set about making a recipe from a very big and seemingly flawless site. I noticed that the recipe had only one star – and dozens of comments. As the pictures looked beautiful I was curious to see what people were saying.

And they were saying a LOT. Mostly, “don’t waste your time and energy on this recipe – it will fail”. And “I’ve been baking for over (fill in the blank) years and know that it wasn’t me – this recipe doesn’t work”.


There was a (super-confident) part of me that thought I could be the exception, but I didn’t want to take the chance, and chose another recipe instead.

And now I read the comments all the time – particularly for a fancier or slightly more complicated recipe. And the suggestions I’ve found have, many times, been as critical to my success as the recipe itself.

Give this a try the next time you’re perusing a site – see what you find!


  1. Shalagh on October 18, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I had a recipe failure recently with an apple crisp from a fairly well known blog. Apple oat soup. I didn’t leave a comment but I should have. Like don’t use regular oats rather than quick oats. Because I did that. So who knows where the problem lay. But we’re I to have said something, someone else may have saved themselves the same grief.
    Love to you Sheri,

    • sherisilver on October 19, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      I think there’s such a rush to “get stuff out there” that attention to detail is sometimes sacrificed…..

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