Do You Really Use All Of Your Own Recipes?

Baking By Osgirl Updated 12 Apr 2012 , 12:55am by Osgirl

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Osgirl Posted 12 Mar 2012 , 6:50pm
post #1 of 9

Just wondering if you bake and you use only your own recipes that you've spent time and money on? Just wondering because I had a little debate with someone who seems to think she can bake from her home kitchen as long as she uses only her own recipes because she considers using someone else's recipes morally wrong. She does live in a state that does not have a cottage food law and she is required to use a commercial kitchen.

While I do agree that you shouldn't take credit for someone else's recipe, I'm sure there are plenty of bakers who've found recipes online, experimented, maybe made some small changes, yet bake and sell using these recipes.

I think it would be wrong to use someone else's recipes and open a bakery near that person and sell my baked goods using their recipes. I have no problem with what I do: I'm a hobby baker who uses others' recipes yet makes small changes. I do not sell my baked goods for profit. I always give credit if I use someone else's recipe.

So do you use only your own recipes?

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AAtKT Posted 12 Mar 2012 , 7:25pm
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Some of my recipes are old family recipes... some are ones my sister gave me and I don't know where she got them from... some I found elsewhere and had to tweak to make work for me...

I believe that an actual ingredients in a recipe can't either be copywritten, just the process wording... at least according to the U.S. Copywrite Office ( page...

Many bakeries are using a mix from DH or Pilsbury or such... they don't advertise it usually...

I know many people who use Martha Stewart's recipes... if you ask them where they got the recipe, they will tell you in most cases... then again, they just bake at home...

Many bakers won't give out their recipes, adjustments, or such... I dont give out mine... I have spent plenty of time and money perfecting them... and even if they started out as someone elses, they are mine because of my adjustments and what I see as perfect...

Many of us use the same basic recipes for icings... it is that bit that we do just for our own that makes them ours... icon_biggrin.gif

As for your friend... She finds it morally wrong to use someone else's recipe, Yet breaks the law by cooking/selling out of her own home even though in her area that is illegal? I guess that is a strange one there... icon_surprised.gif

Sorry that my two cents is so long... icon_wink.gif

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Apti Posted 12 Mar 2012 , 7:33pm
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Hobby baker here. I also do not sell cakes.

Re: the morals of using someone else's recipe--If the recipe has been shared in a form with no expectation of privacy (online, magazine, word-of-mouth, written down and shared, etc.), then I see NO problem using that recipe.

I believe that courtesy in the form of attributions is something every baker should do on forums, blogs, etc. If I were in a state with Cottage Food Laws and was selling product, however, I would not feel the need to post a sign in front of my cupcakes saying the recipe for this cupcake is from "The Cake Mix Doctor", or "Sprinkles as shared on theOprah Winfrey Show". I would just bake the cupcakes, sell them, and say "thank you", when the client says they are really tasty!

If a recipe has been stolen (never intended for use for anyone other than the individual(s) who created the recipe), then it is wrong to use that recipe.

As a matter of interest, copyright law says that a recipe from a book or written article may be copied and re-printed (on this forum for instance) without infringing the copyright. HOWEVER, the recipe can only consist of the list of ingredients, NOT the explanation of how the author completes the recipe.

"Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expressiona description, explanation, or illustration, for examplethat accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook."

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Osgirl Posted 13 Mar 2012 , 12:30am
post #4 of 9

And I was thinking it's like this: When someone writes a book (I'm thinking of topics in education as I'm a teacher) they use the work of other people and their books/articles. You can use someone else's ideas and words as long as you give credit to that person (site your source and bibliography). Then these books get published and people buy them and the author makes money even though the book was full of other people's ideas, words, long as credit is given.

It's the same thing with recipes IMO. I mean, Georgetown Cupcake doesn't "own" the recipe for chocolate cupcakes. Maybe they have spent time coming up with the amounts they use, but they use the same basic ingredients most people use for a standard chocolate cupcake.

Yes, I agree-she thinks it's so morally wrong to use someone else's recipe yet she bakes illegally in her home kitchen. I think she just got all mad when I asked her because she was trying to avoid the fact that what she is doing is illegal. She's trying to make it sound like it's fine as long as it's her own recipe (insert big eye roll).

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scp1127 Posted 14 Mar 2012 , 5:17am
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Osgirl, citing and referencing literary works is different in an academic or research situation.

In the front of every book you will find the wording that prohibits use of the copyrighted material without express written consent from the publisher. They mean it.

I use other people's recipes, but I can think of only one in my hundreds of menu items that I didn't change considerably. Many times I like the taste but dislike the texture and vice versa.

People do not make up their own recipes. Recipes have been around since the beginning of time. Even if you make up your own, you learned the formulas from someone, somewhere... a person or a book, video, etc. For example, I am working hard at a recipe for Guiness Stout Gingerbread. I have tried recipes, changed recipes, graphed recipes, corrected unstable recipes, and baked quite a few. I know what I want but it is still eluding me. It isn't easy when there isn't much out there on what exactly stout, cooked on the stove, actually brings chemically, to the table. I have studied Lebovitz, Gramercy Tavern, Ray, and a tea room in the UK. When I am done, it will be nothing like any of the four. It will be mine. But I need to educate myself on the method. So will this be my recipe? Yes, most definitely. This recipe will be no one's but mine. But I sure got plenty of help from some great bakers.

I do Bobby Flay's German Chocolate Cake. It is quite an undertaking. As written, it is an incredible recipe. But I felt that I could take his basic idea and improve it. Maybe improve is the wrong word. Since we all have different tastes, I adapted the recipe to my liking and to what I think my clients will like. I loved the look of his cake and kept that. In the end, the cake tastes only slightly like the original. I changed every component. So this is my cake, adapted from Bobby Flay's.

Again, even if we start from scratch, literally, we didn't just luck out and throw some ingredients in a mixer and out came a cake. We either start with a stable recipe or study those author/chefs who give us the ratios. If a chocolate cake sinks, I look to the internet to find what went wrong. It is either wrong leavening amounts (easy) or the ratio of sugar, etc to the % of the chocolate used is wrong. That information has allowed me to work on personalizing my chocolate cakes, but I still learned it from somewhere.

Our grandmothers learned basic cake and bread recipes from their mothers. Even without a recipe, this was a daily lesson that was learned.

If you read the bios of great bakers/chefs, you will get a long list of the greats that they worked under. They acknowledge the lessons they learned from these chefs and give them credit for the path that lead them to develop their great recipes.

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Bellatrixx Posted 11 Apr 2012 , 9:29pm
post #6 of 9

My recipes are a mixture of different recipes that I find. I'll take something from one recipe, a part from another and then tweak the hybrid recipe to my own liking icon_wink.gif

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FromScratchSF Posted 11 Apr 2012 , 9:50pm
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There is no such thing as an original recipe for cake. Cake was invented many many years ago. Nobody says, hey! I'm going to invent a completely new cake! Then throws random amounts of flour, sugar etc. in a bowl. The base comes from somewhere, we adjust ingredients to get certain flavors and textures.

There isn't a single recipe I use that I "invented". They all come from somewhere, then I spent countless hours tweaking to get the result I want. My cake tastes completely unique, but it's still just cake.

I went to a baking group recently that was very interesting - everyone was given Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake recipe in advance of the meeting and was instructed to make it as written, no adjustments, no substitutions, and bring it naked - no frosting or syrup. It was amazing how different each and every cake was. No two people had the exact same cake! It was an exercise to demonstrate how different brands of ingredients, different baking conditions, and different interpretations of the recipe will yield completely different results.

On a side note, it sounds like your friend is a complete tool if she thinks it's A-OK to break the law selling food from her house but thinks it's "morally wrong to use someone else's recipe". That's one of the dumbest things I've seen posted today! LOL

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Apti Posted 11 Apr 2012 , 10:55pm
post #8 of 9
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

I went to a baking group recently that was very interesting - everyone was given Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake recipe in advance of the meeting and was instructed to make it as written, no adjustments, no substitutions, and bring it naked - no frosting or syrup. It was amazing how different each and every cake was. No two people had the exact same cake! It was an exercise to demonstrate how different brands of ingredients, different baking conditions, and different interpretations of the recipe will yield completely different results.

That was really interesting to read. I'll bet it was REALLY interesting for everyone in the baking group. For decades my sister Susan made Toll House Cookies using the recipe on the back of the package of chips. They were the best Toll House Cookies on the planet.

The family running joke is that her daughter and I have each tried multiple times to make "Susan's" cookies and they NEVER turned out like hers. One time we each made them on the same day, at the same time, doing exactly what she did. Nope.....her's were better and our's were not the same.

It was almost eerie, and at the very least, uncanny. We have never been able to figure it out.

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Osgirl Posted 12 Apr 2012 , 12:55am
post #9 of 9

ScratchSF-I agree!

I mean, she thinks it's morally wrong to use someone else's recipe but it's fine to bake illegally? She is a tool, and actually she's not a friend either! She's someone I met through a message board (a mom message board).

I tried to explain to her that no one person can invent a chocolate cake. It's already been invented! Yes, we may put our own spin on it, etc...change ingredients, tweak, etc...but at the end of the day, a chocolate cake is a chocolate cake. I mean, it has to have these certain ingredients in it to make it a chocolate cake.

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