Does anyone know how to successfully cut a cake recipe in half without compromising taste? How do I cut the vanilla, eggs, salt, etc. in half when they are in small quantities (for example)?
Usually you can take a recipe down to one egg, and it will behave the same as the original. Smaller than that you need to measure the egg and cut it in half to make the recipe even smaller. I have taken recipes down to Easy-Bake Oven size successfully, but I also used a scale that weighed as small as one gram. I have also taken a recipe down from a 200qt commercial bowl, 100 pounds of flour to 2 pounds of flour in a 5 qt bowl. Knowing what your ingredients weigh by heart helps (drilled into us in Culinary School).
If you need to half a 1/4 teaspoon the easiest way is to measure the 1/4 tsp and pour it into a pile onto a plate and divide with a butter knife and use only half. To cut smaller than 1/4 cup you need to know that there are 4 Tbsp in a 1/4 cup. So half of a 1/4 cup is actually 2 Tbsp. If things are in weight amounts instead of cups and tbsp it is much easier. If things are in GRAM weight it is a cinch!!
My daughter was making a few cupcakes and I told her to make a partial cake mix and she looked at me like I was nuts. I rattled off the increments for a 25% cake mix to just make 6 cupcakes and she said, ".....how do you know that off the top of your head??". I rolled my eyes and told her that I've been doing the numbers for 40 years, I have a degree in Accounting, I've been doing recipes "off the top of my head" for 30 years, I know this up, down and inside out!! Kids.