I wonder if I'm the only one with this problem? I sometimes think that there are little kitchen fairies that you have to please in order for your baking to work out. I must be on and off the 'in favour' list because sometimes a recipe will work really well for me, and on other occasions the same recipe will be a bit of a failure. Not catastrophic, just a bit disappointing in small ways.
The example that springs to mind for me is Nigella's Madeira cake. I first made this recipe many, many years ago in a dodgy oven when I was at university. I was using the correct tin, but something went wrong and a large lump of my cake had overflowed and ended up on the base of the oven floor. I avoided the recipe for a long time after that incident.
Then a colleague asked for a Madeira cake just before Christmas and I thought it would be good to oblige. I thought of the Nigella recipe and having successfully made her rosemary madiera recipe which is almost identical I decided to give this one another chance. Complete success. Rose beautifully, gorgeous crack along the length, crusty with caster sugar. (No picture, sorry).
Decided to make the cake again, emboldened by the memory of the pre-Christmas success. Slightly disappointing. The cake did rise, but not very well, and the lovely crack of the previous cake wasn't evident. This loaf rose a little, but spread a little too, along the sides of the tin. As I said, just a little disappointing. It still tastes just as good, but I wonder why these things happen. Is it just me, or are there recipes that you use and just accept that the results are variable compared to your expectations. As for me and Madeira, I'll be trying this BBC Good Food version next time (substituting plain flour for the almonds) to see how it compares.
Apologies for the naff photos - I wasn't going to blog this so I didn't make any effort when recording how this cake turned out.