Angela Day souffle main. Picture: Steve Lawrence 270809

London - Souffles, beef Wellington and baked Alaska are the dishes Britons find most stressful to cook, a study has found.

Getting a souffle to rise is the top kitchen nightmare while soggy pastry and cooking the meat properly make beef Wellington awkward. Baked Alaska can be a challenge due to the tricky combination of heat and ice cream.

Making profiteroles from scratch is also problematical, as are puff pastry, croissants and paella.

The survey of 2,000 adults by cooker specialists Stoves found that even simple dishes like poached eggs and omelettes bamboozle Brits cooks, with more than a quarter of respondents rating them harder to pull off than more complicated combinations.

Problematic puddings such as puff pastry, profiteroles and pavlova also made the list of the top twenty difficult dishes.

Celebrity chef Brian Turner said: “Whilst many recipes leave scope for a bit of experimentation, classics dishes and techniques such as souffles and pastry are an exact science and can easily cause problems for the more inexperienced cook.

“Despite the difficulty factor, these types of dishes often find themselves on the nation’s dinner party menus with hosts keen to show off their superior skills in front of their friends.”

The survey showed that many of its respondents could do with paying more attention in the kitchen, with more than half admitting they mess up timings the most, and 12 percent confessing to not reading the recipe properly.

One in ten people said they could not get the oven temperature right while another 14 percent struggle with weighing ingredients out properly.

When it comes to entertaining friends at dinner parties, more than one in ten said they'd had such a hosting horror that they couldn't serve up the food they cooked, while one in 20 shirked the cooking responsibilities in favour of organising drinks and music while their partner donned the chef's apron.

Chef Turner's advice for avoiding dining disasters when you want to cook to impress?

“Dinner parties can be stressful, but the key to pulling off the best food for guests is all in the preparation,” he said.

“Practice makes perfect so make sure you have a few trial runs of your menu to identify any problems.

“It’s also a good idea to cook dishes that you can prepare in advance to ensure you don’t have lots to do on the day and aren’t stuck in the kitchen away from your guests when they arrive.”

Top 10 dishes that go wrong:

1, Souffle

2. Beef Wellington

3 Baked Alaska

4. Chocolate profiteroles

5. Puff pastry

6. Croissants

7. Paella

8. Salmon en croute

9. Meringue

10. Chocolate fondant


Soufflés have earned themselves a reputation for being so tricky to pull off that any successful cook can really impress their guests. You can serve savoury soufflés as a main course or a sweeter version as a dessert. They need careful precision when it comes to measuring out ingredients, getting the temperature right, and making them rise.

Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood offered up this recipe for a light and fluffy souffle:


Melted unsalted butter for greasing

140g (5oz) caster sugar, plus extra for dusting

2 egg yolks and 6 medium egg whites

300ml passion fruit juice sieved from 20-25 fruits, or good-quality passion fruit juice/smoothie from a carton

Icing sugar for dusting


Heat your oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7.

Brush 6 deep ramekins with the melted butter and dust with caster sugar.

In a large bowl, using an electric hand-held whisk, beat the 2 egg yolks with 70g (2½oz) of the sugar for at least 5 minutes or until the mixture is pale and thick and holds a trail when the beaters are lifted.

In another clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks, then beat in the remaining sugar.

Add 60ml (2fl oz) of the passion fruit juice to the egg-yolk mixture and mix well.

Stir one-third of the whisked whites into the yolk mixture, then carefully fold in the remaining whites.

Fill the ramekins almost to the top with the soufflé mixture then run your finger around the edge to lift the mixture away from the side slightly (this will help it rise evenly).

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are well risen and golden on top.

Dust the soufflés with icing sugar and serve immediately.

Use the remaining passion fruit juice as a sauce – I like to break into a soufflé with a spoon and pour passion fruit juice inside. - Daily Mail