Extending/minimizing Recipes

Baking By PreciousCargo Updated 2 Mar 2011 , 6:25pm by sillywabbitz

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PreciousCargo Posted 25 Feb 2011 , 6:29am
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Hey all! First off I just want to say how THRILLED I am to have found this site...I joined yesterday and I am so excited because I have been praying for a place where I can find the answers to all my questions!!! I am in the process of working towards my Domestic Kitchen License here in Oregon, and the question I have, I looked for on here but I couldn't find...maybe I just wasn't using the right search words...

Okay, so, I have been testing recipes for months and have finally got some set that I love. My question is, how do you all know the amount to make for larger cakes (sheet cakes, etc.)? Is it just a matter of doubling the recipe up until you have what you need? Because isn't there a point where it doesn't really work out that well when you keep doubling it and you have to do some math to get it right? also, what about making the recipe smaller? Is that possible? I mean, I'm assuming this is all possible, the bigger question being HOWWWWWW do I do it?? icon_rolleyes.gif

Thanks so much for your help, I really appreciate it!!! icon_smile.gif

7 replies
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dixiedarlin79 Posted 27 Feb 2011 , 10:24pm
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I know how you feel! I don't know how to double or cut in half (or less) recipes. For example, I am going to make a cake for my sister's birthday next week and I am going to use a chocolate cream cheese frosting. I'm also going to fill the cake and figure the cream cheese frosting won't hold up well enough to make a dam for the filling creating a need for a small amount of buttercream. I do not need to make a WHOLE recipe of buttercream and have no clue how to get just the small amount I will need. I guess alot of this is just going to be trial and error. That's where the fun comes in right?? icon_eek.gif

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PreciousCargo Posted 28 Feb 2011 , 8:27am
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I think I can help you on that! thumbs_up.gif Buttercream is something I never use a recipe for...I just throw it all in the mixer...I'm not sure how much your needing though, if I'm right, just a little bit to use as a dam for the filling right? I would start with maybe 1/2 stick butter, a cup of powdered sugar, a lil vanilla, a lil milk (or water), maybe more sugar till u get the consistency you want. Hope that helps! (and makes sense, lol)

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Baker_Rose Posted 28 Feb 2011 , 5:09pm
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It depends on the recipe. A buttercream recipe that uses 2 pounds of powdered sugar is really easy, just cut everything in half. If you want 25% you will need 8 ounces of powdered sugar which is easily measured as 2 cups. I don't try to make less that a half recipe I think that it doesn't mix up as well if it is any smaller. Even if I only need a little buttercream I usually make a whole batch and then portion it for the freezer. That way if you only need a little you can pull out a small (1 cup or so) container from the freezer, thaw and stir to "fluff-up" and you are good to go for the next time.

Cake recipes are different, you have to keep the ingredient ratio and it's tough when you are using cups measurements. If you convert your recipes to ounces, or even better, grams you can go small to large provided you can mix the ingredients for super small batches.

The easiest way to up/down a recipe comes with how many eggs are in it. Unless you want to gram weigh an egg to make Easy-Bake Oven sized recipes (been there) it's easiest to stick with the amounts dictated by your eggs.

If your recipe calls for 4 eggs then it will evenly decrease by 25%, taking it down to one egg. If you have 3 eggs, then you want to just go down to 33%.

I keep all of my recipes in different forms. I have the basic original recipe, and I have ounces. I usually can double a basic cake recipe in my 5qt KitchenAId mixer, but for anything bigger I will make multiple batches or use a jumbo bowl and a hand mixer (depending on the recipe). I also write on EVERY recipe the amount, by weight of the batter for all my basic sized cake pans and cup cake amounts. I make 6-7-8-9-10-12-14-16 rounds the most, but I also keep 1/4 sheet 1/2 sheet info and square cake info as well. If I need any other size I calculate the square inch approx. of the shape and then compare it to the rounds or rectangles, then I know how much cake batter to make. I keep everything in a notebook and I add info as I make different cakes/recipes. I also have all this info for the basic cake mixes I make. A cake mix can be made as a 1 mix down to a 1/3 mix (33%) and if I need less, I really just do the smallest and drop some cupcakes for the family. It's nice to be able to taste and be sure everything has come out well.

Good Luck!! It is where Math enters the kitchen, and having a good grasp of fractions helps!!!


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dalis4joe Posted 1 Mar 2011 , 1:34am
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Hi Ya'll

This is the reason I would love to be proficient in ratios... they mentioned here something about a book on ratio... if you learn ratios...u can modify/scale any recipe... I dont mind making full batches of BC cause u can always fridge/freeze but with cake batter.... that's not possible...

@Baker Rose... I know what u mean about having everything written down.. I call my notebook, my kitchen bible cause I have EVERYTHING there.... God forbid I ever misplace it...Id be lost lol

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PreciousCargo Posted 2 Mar 2011 , 8:40am
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Thanks so much for the help! The math thing scares me a bit, as it is my worst subject, but I suppose I'll just have to bite the bullet and try it out! So, how long can I keep buttercream frozen or fridged? Is it the same consistency once thawed?

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Baker_Rose Posted 2 Mar 2011 , 5:22pm
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I think that fresh buttercream is best, that is why when I'm using it for the whole cake it's always fresh. But sometimes you just need a little bit for something, that's why I freeze in little 1 cup containers, so I don't have to thaw a lot.

Your best bet is to try your recipes and see how they are, then you will know to bother with freezing or not. I don't like to keep anything longer than 3 months that isn't vacuum sealed.

As for the math it gets easier the more you do it. I was the 13 year old girl in Algebra One crying every night because everyone in the class understood BUT ME!!!! I was lucky to get a great math professor in college and I FINALLY caught on. I went on to Accounting/Finance and eventually ended up in Culinary School. I really got the Math. It is so much easier to grasp fractions/percentages/ratios etc when they are food right in front of you. My Accounting background helped with the "practical" way of thinking too!!

As for baker's ratios, they are really easy, I don't think you need a book. Flour is ALWAYS 100% and the weight of everything else is a percentage of the flour. BUT, everything has to be in weight, either ounces/pounds or grams to begin with.


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sillywabbitz Posted 2 Mar 2011 , 6:25pm
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To do this well I think you will need a kitchen scale. I never 1/2 my buttercream recipe because it freezes beautifully so I just make a whole batch (4 lbs of sugar) and freeze what I don't use. Now that I have a kitchen scale I feel I can 1/2 and even quarter almost any recipe but I agree with the above that the eggs can be an issue so I make sure to use recipes where I have a whole egg division. Luckily all of my recipes 1/2 and quarter pretty well but I use the doctored box mix WASC on here which makes things pretty simple.

Also you can freeze a lot of cake batter. If you have a little left over, freeze it and make a few cupcakes when you want a snack or are having friends over.

My kitchen scale is my absolute favorite gadget AFTER my Agbay.

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