Hello, I have been making the Brownies from the Domestic Goddess book for some time and the results vary. I sometimes have problems with it setting and realised that I was using mixed size eggs not large. I changed and the first time the recipe came out perfect and cooked in the specified time. However since then, I have cooked it twice more also with large eggs and it has not set properly during cooking so I have extended the cooking time. It also has a hard crispy top, but this sinks as it cools. I then try to cut it and the top crumbles and the falls apart and the inside is too soft. I wondered do I overbeat or over whip the mixture? I use a hand held electric whisk and usually beat until the mixture is thickened and mousse-like. Is this the problem - do I create too much rise which then as the cake sinks cracks too much? Any advice would be appreciated as I like to make this but am frustrated by how it is turning out. Thank you
Brownies can come in slightly different forms - some are quite cake-like, some are very fudgy and some are in-between and slightly "squidgy". Nigella's bownies thend to be the squidgy type and should not crumble when cut. We suspect that you are beating the eggs too much as they should be whisked gently and briefly, just to combine them with the sugar and vanilla, and no more. Beating them to a mousse-like consistency will introduce too much air into the brownie batter. This air will cause the brownies to rise up as they bake and we suspect that you end up with a big gap between the top crust and the base of the brownie. It could also cause the brownies to become more cake-like which could be the reason why they are crumbling a little.
Baking of the brownies is also really important as you want the brownies to be just set, not raw and not baked too much. We suggest checking the bownies 5 minutes before the end of the recommended baking time. Give the baking pan a little jiggle and if the centre is wobbly then return the pan to the oven for 5 minutes and check again. if the centre looks set then check with a skewer or cake tester - if the brownies are done then it should come out with a few damp cake crumbs clinging to it (though not raw cake batter). Again if the batter is still raw then bake for another 5 minutes and check again.
Also brownies need to be completely cold before you cut them as they will tend to crumble if they are still warm. If you find it difficult to resist them while they are sitting cooling then try baking the brownies just before you go to bed and leave the pan somewhere safe on a wire rack to cool overnight.