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Tips on How to Scale a Recipe

Written by Robert Harwood, WA

How do you scale a recipe up or down to minimise waste and not end up cooking too much or too little?

This method is not perfect, but it has helped me to massively reduce waste and prevents me being caught short and having to spend more time baking extra layers because the recipe I have chosen doesn’t make enough cake.

Dry weights and water weights and different ingredients will all take up different volumes, but they are close enough that on a non-commercial scale they can serve as a reasonable rough guide. 

1. To begin, start by writing out all the ingredients and weights for a recipe. (Large or extralarge whole eggs usually weigh between 50 to 62 grams).

2. Add up all the weights to get a total.

The total weight in grams will be roughly equivalent to the volume the batter will take up in ml.

Place the desired size of cake tin on a set of scales. Zero the scales and fill the tin with water to the level you would want the batter to go to, leaving room for the cake to rise in the tin.

Most recipes will rise between a quarter and a third of the original batter height.

Record the water weight. If your tin has holes plug them first….

Divide the water weight in grams by the total weight of the original recipe in grams.

This will give you the figure you need to multiply the original ingredient weights by. e.g. recipe weight is 1000g, water weight in pans is 1250g. 1250 divided by 1000 = 1.25 Therefore, to get the right amount of batter multiply all the ingredient weights in the original recipe by 1.25

My favourite recipe for mud cake rises just a bit under 1/4 above its original height. I wanted to bake the bottom tier in two 8-inch pans, and to get the proportions of the cake right I needed the final stack to be at least 5.5 inches high.

I worked out how high in the tins I wanted the batter to get the correct height. Weighed a tin, zeroed off the scales then filled the tin with water to the level I wanted, it was roughly 1.5 litres a tin, 3 litres (3kg) in total.

I wrote down all the weights of the main ingredients in the mixture. (The water weight and weight of dry ingredients take up slightly different volumes. But they’re close enough to be a good guide).

One batch of my original recipe worked out to about 1.3kg so to get close to 3 litres I needed about 2 and a quarter mixes. I wrote a new column of ingredients with their weights multiplied by 2.25 and ticked them off the list as I added them to ensure I didn’t miss any ingredients.

Tips: When scaling up a recipe it is often necessary to lower the amount of raising agent slightly to avoid the cake rising too fast and then collapsing. Every recipe will rise a different amount, it helps to have some familiarity with the recipe to know roughly how much the cake is likely to rise.

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