Guidelines for Adjusting Recipes

Guidelines for Adjusting Recipes

Recipes are typically designed as precise formulas. Yet sometimes, you may want to double or triple the recipe to increase its yield or halve it to decrease the yield. As a ground rules, follow these basic guidelines when altering any recipes as required -

  • When increasing the recipe, try to multiply by an even number.

  • When decreasing the recipe, try to divide by also an even number.

  • Increase or decrease measurements proportionally. The one exception: salt and other seasonings, which you should hold back on increasing proportionally. You can always add more slat later if necessary.

  • Look at the lowest common denominator. Some recipes don't divide in half neatly. For instance, you don't want to end up halving an egg.

  • For clarity, rewrite the recipe with a the changed amounts. Or, write the new amounts in the margin and follow them religious.

  • Timing can often change when altering a recipe, so it's more important to focus on visual cues and/or internal temperatures to determine doneness.

Doubling with Ease : Some foods double up with very few complications. For example, if you want to make an extra pound of pasta, simply increase the amount of cooking water. To make twice the standard amount of rice, double the water and use a wider, deeper pan. Other recipes are a bit more tricky. The additional volume of food may mean that you'll need to add to the cooking time. For instant, you may want to double a cookie recipe and place 2 baking sheets in the oven when the recipe calls for 1 sheet. In this case, it's beast to increase the total baking time slightly (and possibly reduce the oven temperature by 25oF for more delicate cookies). Also, place the sheets above and below on different oven racks, and rotate the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

To double a batch of food for sauteing, it's easy enough to use a larger saute pan and increase the sauteing time slightly. But be careful not to use a pan so large that it heats unevenly on your burner. And if the amount of food will crowd the pan that you're using, saute in batches instead. When doubling a recipe for a saute, it's not necessary to add twice the amount of oil or butter to the pan at the start. Begin with the amount specified for 1 batch, and add more oil as needed.

The one caveat of doubling is this: Avoid doubling recipes for eggs in the same pan. When making scrambled eggs or omelets, for example, too many eggs in one pan will take too long to cook and will turn rubbery. For the best results, cook the eggs in batches.

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