Scaling up or down

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Joined Jul 28, 2001
Thank you so much for taking time out to visit with us here at Chef Talk.
I'm on the sweeter side of the coin. I am just assuming that baking recipes are less forgiving then, cooking recipes. I came to this conclusion many years ago having found very few Hot Chefs that could follow a bakery formula:D
I was wondering if your ever scale up or down recipes, taking into consideration that a reader may need a different yield? If you do, is there a reliable program out there that will calculate baking ingredients, knowing that you just can't double or triple baking formulas.
I was also wondering, what are your most used references in testing and editing?
Sorry for soo many ?'s. Understanding that you are the conduit between the chef and the reader, do you run revisions by the chef or submitter before print?
Thanks again for your visit.
Joined Feb 10, 2006
Yes, you are right that baking recipes can be difficult to adjust in scale. I have had good luck multiplying (or dividing) recipes for cookies, quick breads, and biscuits. I don't know of any formulas for baking conversions, though they probably exist. Although I bake frequently, when I have questions I consult friends or colleagues who are professional bakers. One of the best resources I know is the King Arthur Flour Baker's Hotline at (802) 649-3717.

When you are going to change the scale of savory recipes, pay particular attention to strong, sharp flavors, the amount of liquid (if any), and cooking time. When I halve a recipe I do not halve such ingredients as lemon, salt, or hot peppers. Typically I will use a quarter to a third of the amount, and carefully adjust to taste during cooking. When I am going to double the amount of meat in a stew, I never double the liquid. I often use triple the amount of meat to double the amount of liquid. (In other words, if the original recipe called for 1 pound of meat and 4 cups of liquid, I will use 3 pounds of meat and 8 cups of liquid.)

I once was sent a recipe by a magazine editor with a note explaining that it had come from a restaurant, and asking me to edit it to change the serving quantity from 40 to 4! Instead, after some discussion, I wrote an original recipe for the magazine.

There are a few reference books I find myself using often. One of my newest ones is The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques, by David Joachim. It's full of good ideas and substitutions for both common and unusual ingredients. Even though I have about 1500 cookbooks, I still go to my old and new versions of The Joy of Cooking when I want a quick reminder of how to make a classic American or European dish. For baking, The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum, is a standby. The reference book I use depends on the cuisine I am cooking. Any of Julie Sahni's cookbooks will be an excellent guide to Indian food. There are so many great books, for reference and for pleasure...

For conversion tables, go to It's very helpful.
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