Advice on scaling up recipes

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Joined Jul 29, 2014
Hi all
I started my own small business and have started to see numbers of orders increase.
One recipe has been very popular so I'm making a lot more. It's base is an old fashioned butter cake. I did a few trials and found that this cake was the most popular, so I want to stick with it. However it uses a lot of eggs etc. Can anyone point me in the direction of some information on how to scale up recipes properly? Is it necessary to just multiply the recipe by the amount you need to fit the new size or can you adjust the ingredients as well? I'm sure I've read something about this in the past, but I don't remember where because I wasn't worried about it back then! I've been reading about scaling up, but what about if it's actually necessary to use the exact multiples of some ingredients?

For example, the base recipe calls for 4 eggs, but to fit the new size frame I've multiplied the recipe by 2.25, so 9 eggs now, but are these all actually necessary? How do I determine that? Any books or websites with good information that I can read and experiment with would be helpful.
Thanks in advance!
 
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This subject is multi sided. Some recipes simply can't be up-sized with the same results.
You may end up remaking the same recipe several times. You'll need to experiment.
As for eggs you have options. You can use a liquid egg product and simply convert the amounts. (5 eggs equals one cup)
You can scramble the eggs, then measure the amount you need from there.
 
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It IS necessary if it achieves your goal...as long as you continue to produce the results that brought you to the party you are on the right track.
My big thing (the one that brought me the most business) was to be able to stand by my promise of only producing small batch products.
My peeps seemed to like the fact that their order was lovingly prepared to their exact specs.
Altho I get it if you don't have the time.

mimi

Forgot to offer congrats for your increase in orders....
:)
 
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Are you noticing a difference in the final product when you scale up? As long as you are not, which you shouldn't be then don't change anything. You want the same ratio no matter whether your making 1 or you're making 100.
 
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I agree with all of the above.

One question that comes to mind is what is causing the concern? Is the cake feeling or tasting different made in the new size? Or is it just a mental "whoa that's a lot of eggs" kind of thing making you second guess yourself?
 
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Thanks for the replies! flipflopgirl flipflopgirl Thanks for the congrats -- increased orders is exciting and daunting at the same time! I'll definitely still be doing small batches because I can't handle any more myself at the moment as am solo, but I need them to be bigger than the original recipe. I'm doing about five times the original recipe for one client, but I have to do it in batches.

As for the other comments thank you and I'm asking for a few reasons. One, as fatcook fatcook said, whoa that's a lot of eggs. And also because I've read in the past about when scaling up it may not be necessary to use as much baking powder, bicarb etc as it would for a smaller batch, and was wondering if this is the case for all ingredients? Also, I have noticed that I am getting some 'speckling' on the sides/top of the cooked cake, which I never noticed when I was making small batches. It's not in the centre. At first I thought it was because the temperatures were really cold where I am and I was having issues with the butter being too cold. I thought perhaps the butter and sugar weren't 'creaming' properly and small particles or sugar or butter were burning or something. However, I've been really making sure they are mixing correctly (I love my blow torch) and it's still happening. Perhaps it's too much sugar? Any clues on that? I'd prefer to keep the original recipe as it tastes good, but I'm up for adjusting to make it better. Thanks for your advice.
 
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You are welcome... :)
Speckling on the cake skin can be due to impurities or the failure of one of them to incorporate.
I had this happen way back when and corrected it by sifting my drys thru a finer mesh.
@panini posted some solid info on the problem a while back so maybe search and read those over to see if anything sounds familiar.
If this recipe of yours is your key to the city maybe you should take it to someone who can write you a ratio for it.
Trying to convert on your own may end up being a huge waste of time as well as ingredients ($$$ ;-).

mimi
 
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Ohh thank you! I was about to invest in a new sifter, so I'll read all about it in case there is an issue. It does look like something isn't incorporating which is why I thought the sugar/butter issue, but I've tried a few things with that and it's not changing. Never happened in smaller quantities and I've tried a few different moulds/tins so I need to read some more, thanks!

I'll get my husband to work out the maths for me... He has built me an amazing Excel program to work out a anything mathematical...he used to solve maths problems for fun...oh god, but useful for me now :D
 
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That makes me wonder - are you mixing well by hand at the end with a large spatula? If you have scaled up, has the mixer scaled up also? Bowl size changes often mean a slight different shape as well.

I ask because the first time someone else made my pound cake, they had shiny spots on the tops of the cake - it turned out that they hadn't done the final hand scrape of all of the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl. It wasn't in the recipe because it was something I knew to do, but wasn't something they realized needed to be done.

Also, are you baking more pans at once than before? Is the oven getting crowded?

As far as scaling up - we have a couple dozen recipes that we have doubled and quadrupled but the ratios always stay the same and so does the outcome. This may not hold true for everyone.

We do have one recipe that cannot be scaled up with the same result. For that one, we just weigh out the ingredients for multiple batches and make them one after the other and then bake. With practice, it really doesn't take much longer and the outcome is more important than saving a few minutes.

I hope you can figure it out, and congratulations on a good problem to have (more orders) :)
 
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Hi all
I started my own small business and have started to see numbers of orders increase.
One recipe has been very popular so I'm making a lot more. It's base is an old fashioned butter cake.

For example, the base recipe calls for 4 eggs, but to fit the new size frame I've multiplied the recipe by 2.25, so 9 eggs now, but are these all actually necessary? How do I determine that? Any books or websites with good information that I can read and experiment with would be helpful.
Thanks in advance!

Do you have a copy of The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum? In the wedding cake section she goes into great detail about how she scaled up the butter cake recipes and the effect of baking powder and other leaveners on the recipe when making larger and smaller cake sizes. It might be helpful to you.

As others have said, some recipes don't do well being sized up - sometimes you can double or triple a recipe easily but you can't do a 4x batch successfully - it just doesn't work at that scale. The size of the pan (even the type of pan it is) can make a difference. I can't get our cheesecake recipe to bake well in a specific sheet pan because that particular pan is heavier than the others, but it works in every other sheet pan.

Good luck as you grow your business!
 
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Joined Jul 29, 2014
Do you have a copy of The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum? In the wedding cake section she goes into great detail about how she scaled up the butter cake recipes and the effect of baking powder and other leaveners on the recipe when making larger and smaller cake sizes. It might be helpful to you.

As others have said, some recipes don't do well being sized up - sometimes you can double or triple a recipe easily but you can't do a 4x batch successfully - it just doesn't work at that scale. The size of the pan (even the type of pan it is) can make a difference. I can't get our cheesecake recipe to bake well in a specific sheet pan because that particular pan is heavier than the others, but it works in every other sheet pan.

Good luck as you grow your business!

OMG You're a genius! That's where I read it! I'll have to go back and read it again. I'm not scaling up too much for each batch, only 2.25x, because my mixer can't take any more and that's what is the right amount for the large size frame I'm using, so I just bake off a few batches instead. Not the most convenient, but it's all I can do for the moment until I grow the business a little more.
 
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That makes me wonder - are you mixing well by hand at the end with a large spatula? If you have scaled up, has the mixer scaled up also? Bowl size changes often mean a slight different shape as well.

I ask because the first time someone else made my pound cake, they had shiny spots on the tops of the cake - it turned out that they hadn't done the final hand scrape of all of the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl. It wasn't in the recipe because it was something I knew to do, but wasn't something they realized needed to be done.

Also, are you baking more pans at once than before? Is the oven getting crowded?

As far as scaling up - we have a couple dozen recipes that we have doubled and quadrupled but the ratios always stay the same and so does the outcome. This may not hold true for everyone.

We do have one recipe that cannot be scaled up with the same result. For that one, we just weigh out the ingredients for multiple batches and make them one after the other and then bake. With practice, it really doesn't take much longer and the outcome is more important than saving a few minutes.

I hope you can figure it out, and congratulations on a good problem to have (more orders) :)

I haven't scaled up the mixer because I can't afford to yet, but I'd like to. It's at maximum capacity, but I am taking great care to make sure everything is mixed properly. I can't tell you how many things I've been watching/reading to make sure I'm not missing anything, but it's all the same as I did at pastry school and in the patisseries, so...urgh, don't know why it's happening. It's been happening since I started scaling up (which I've done gradually to find the right size/height to get what I need) that's why I was wondering if I need to alter the ratios of recipe a little...maybe it was ok for a single recipe, but not for larger sizes, as you mentioned.
The oven isn't crowded because (I have another thread about this disaster!) I have an oven with a hurricane fan so I try to be careful about how I bake. Also, because I need to up-size the mixer, I'm baking one off as I make the new batch, like you said about your recipe! I did wonder if it was a reaction with the baking tin, but I've tried a adjustable frame, a large size cake tin and am now working with a large frame and it's still doing it :/ It's probably something I think I'm doing right, but am missing. It's not too big a problem as it's only the skin, but still, I want it to be right!

Sometimes I think I'm mad to have gone it alone, especially as I'm in a foreign country, but they seem to like what I'm doing so I just have to keep at it! Thank you so much for your advice and help -- it's so good to be able to speak to people on here as I don't have anyone local at the moment!
 
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I had a similar problem with scaling up Mary Berry's Victoria Sponge recipe. In the end I gave up and just made small batches which worked perfectly. It could have been making the jump from a small mixer (Kitchen Aid) to a commercial one (Hobart), it might not. And as much as I admire and respect RLB (I consider her a goddess because her recipes WORK without fail!) I have not had to do the minute calculations to get wonderful results when scaling up; I just multiplied the cake recipes by 3 or 4 and they work and I am happy :)
 
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With MB's sponge, did you get the speckling or would the cake just not work?
A friend gave me The Cake Bible a while ago, so have pulled it out to have a read of the wedding cake section. I find that RLB's recipes use a lot of butter and sugar too, but they usually work and she goes into such detail so I'll see if she can help :D I really feel like there's too much of something now that I've scaled up and need to adjust a little. If I can get it to work at 2.25x the recipe I'll be happy and stick with that because it makes a decent size frame. I'd prefer not to go back to the smaller size cos I'll be just baking for hours and it's already bad enough just getting the cake part done! Ahhhh I need staff...or maybe just better systems will do!

I'll also see if I can find Harold McGee's book, On Food and Cooking, because his information helped me out with a discoloration of berries/cake I had, too. We're renovating atm, so god knows where anything is *sigh*.

Thanks for your advice :)
 
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With the MB recipe, the top crust had lots of "speckles" that looked like tiny dots of butter that melted and was a different color than the cake crumb. The cake itself was ok; it seemed a little bit drier but fine. I took her recipe and just multiplied it by 3 or 4 so I would have enough batter for a 12", 9" and 6" round pans. The original recipe is written for an 8" round I think. Since it didn't sink, I didn't think leavening was the culprit but sometimes adding less baking powder is the answer to that question. If you want, PM the recipe and I'll take a look. Can you post pictures of what your cake looks like?
 
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For someone who has been to pastry school etc I've been watching this thread with a bit of amazement that scaling is so challenging. As others have said, significantly scaling up cake recipes can involve experimentation since a simple arithmetic approach may not be best. But for 5X the simple solution is 3 batches. I know of no recipe where a 2x scaling leads to disaster, but I'm sure someone will point out the error of my experience. To go bigger there may be a different/better approach: use a commercial cookbook for a similar recipe and adapt to fine-tune into your own. The "test batch" makes verifying the recipe easy, affordable, and quick. The full batch yields a commercial quantity. For example (and this is just one example): https://www.sfbi.com/baking-supplies/books

Or there is always decent commercial mixes...
 
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