Need Help Tweaking A Recipe

Baking By AnnieCahill Updated 22 Jan 2012 , 8:03pm by MimiFix

AnnieCahill Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 12:26pm
post #1 of 12

I have a few recipes I am playing around with and I need a reference about the appropriate ratios of baking powder to flour and other ingredients. I have both of RLB's books (Heavenly Cakes I just received about a week ago). It seems to me there was something in The Cake Bible, but for the life of me I can't find it. I did find her reference to self rising flour, but not anything else regarding the appropriate leavening amounts to other ingredients.

Any help would be appreciated!


11 replies
Marianna46 Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 12:57pm
post #2 of 12

If I remember correctly, it's in the Cake Bible in the first chapter (or is it the introduction?) about the science of baking. I know I've read it in one of her books, too, but I'm not home right now to look it up.

AnnieCahill Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 1:03pm
post #3 of 12

Thanks. I was basically going through the index and looking up baking powder, leavening, etc. Wasn't having much luck. I will thumb through the beginning and see if I can find it.

Thanks again!

karateka Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 1:18pm
post #4 of 12

Toward the back of the cake bible, in the section for professionals and passionate amateurs, there's a couple of charts that allow you to scale up/down various recipes.

The ratio of leavening to flour isn't constant, it varies with the diameter of the pan you are using.

AnnieCahill Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 1:26pm
post #5 of 12

Awesome. Thanks so much!

MimiFix Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 2:44pm
post #6 of 12

I know everyone loves The Cake Bible, and Rose is an incredible baker, but this point really irritates me. Changing leaveners based on pan size is an opinion that one baker/author uses. But in my years of practical application, I've baked thousands of cakes (of all sizes), it was never necessary to change the ratio. I started more than thirty years ago as an all-scratch home-based bakery using small recipes and as my business grew into a bakery cafe, I scaled up the recipes by multiplying ingredients without adjustments. The only thing that changes based on pan size, is the time and temperature for larger pans.

AnnieCahill Posted 21 Jan 2012 , 3:05pm
post #7 of 12

I understand what you are saying Mimi. I was really talking about the leavening in relation to the other ingredients in the recipe, not necessarily the pan size. More of a trouble-shooting for a recipe that isn't perfect, but has potential, if that makes sense. For example, I wanted some guidelines like 1 cup of flour is leavened by x tsp of baking powder. And I believe the leavening amount also differs depending on the number of eggs. I was just trying to see if there were rough guidelines. To be honest I hadn't really thought about the pan size, since most of my test cakes will be 6" or 8".

The thing is, I have several recipes which have potential, but certain elements could use some improvement, (like the crumb, density, etc.) . I was going to tinker with the ingredients and see if I could improve some of those elements. I hope that makes better sense.


karateka Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 2:36pm
post #8 of 12

I haven't found her info to be inaccurate. I've mistakenly used the leavening for a different sized pan and had it fall, only to correct it next time and have it work.

MimiFix Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 3:07pm
post #9 of 12

With leaveners, I start with 1 teaspoon baking powder to one cup flour. If there are any strong acidic ingredients such as buttermilk or orange juice I add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to that proportion. It also depends upon what texture you want. For more dense, cut back the leavener, for lighter or more cakelike, add a bit more. I've found the best way to develop a recipe is to work on a small batch and repeat it making one change at a time.

Annie, I've found that "rules" can work and not work. I'm not a food scientist so I can't explain why things do or don't happen. But I have been baking for many years and know that "experts" can make broad statements that in practical application don't always work.

You know that rule about baking soda and baking powder, and how their use is determined by acid or alkaline ingredients? When I first read that I looked at my recipes and saw that many of mine are opposite but they work really well. I have no idea why, but they work. So these experts can sometimes irritate me.

At my shop, muffins were a big seller so we made more than sixty dozen per day. There were times that we ran out of a leavener and were forced to make a substitution, or someone made a mistake and used the wrong one. It was from these incidents that I stopped thinking that rules always worked. I'm sure there must be other things that contribute to how and why products rise, and I would love to know what they are. Sorry for the long-winded response.

Marianna46 Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 7:20pm
post #10 of 12

Your comments are always welcome, MimiFix, and I always learn from what you say. In fact, this has been a pretty enlightening thread all around.

AnnieCahill Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 7:29pm
post #11 of 12

Thanks for the input Mimi. I did start going through Heavenly Cakes yesterday and I re-read a few chapters of The Cake Bible. I do tend to prefer a denser cake. I have a few recipes which are on the fluffier side and I'd like to make them more dense and also tighten the crumb up a bit.

I appreciate all your replies!


MimiFix Posted 22 Jan 2012 , 8:03pm
post #12 of 12

Thanks Marianna and Annie. I am so totally amazed that much of what we are told by experts is not always an absolute. I trust answers from my fellow CC posters who have long-term practical experience, more than I do from famous know-it-alls.

I once worked for an appliance company that invited one of those know-it-alls to speak at an informal gathering. She was asked questions and gave answers, even when she clearly did not know. Someone asked her about brown 'n serve rolls and she began by saying she wasn't familiar with that product. But then gazed off into the air and formulated an answer that I knew was totally wrong. She first phrased her answer as a possibility, then repeated it as if it were the correct answer. There was nothing I could do or say since she was the expert hired to give answers and sign books. That was a turning point in my real-life education.

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