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  • The Chopping Blog

How to Scale a Recipe

Shelley
Posted by Shelley on Sep 29, 2014

Ever wanted to understand how to double your favorite recipe? Increasing or decreasing a recipe is referred to as “scaling a recipe,” and it really is an art. Now, it's relatively simple to double a recipe by multiplying the ingredients of the recipe times two. Same for halving the recipe by dividing the ingredients by two. It's a pretty a safe bet that most recipes will come out well when doubling, but more than doubling a recipe becomes more complicated.

recipechocolateAnything more than quadrupling a recipe isn’t recommended with a simple multiplication method. When you start scaling recipes to five times or more, the ratios just don’t seem to work, especially in baked desserts or recipes with lots of vegetables. You may not trust yourself completely here, but try and follow any intuition you have. If all of a sudden it seems like you have way more eggs, or baking soda or onions than makes sense, you are most likely correct. In order to feel more confident about scaling, you need to know how to accurately measure first. This will help you to multiply ingredients more easily.

Common Measurements

1 pound= 16 ounces

1 gallon= 4 quarts or 16 cups or 128 fluid ounces

  • 1 quart= 2 pints or 4 cups or 32 fluid ounces
  • 1 pint= 2 cups or 16 fluid ounces

1 cup = 16 tablespoons or 8 fluid ounces

  • ¼ cup = 4 tablespoons or 2 fluid ounces
  • ½ cup = 8 tablespoons or 4 fluid ounces
  • ¾ cup = 12 tablespoons or 12 fluid ounces

1/3 cup = 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon or 2 and 2/3rds fluid ounces

  • 2/3 cup = 10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons or 5 and ¼ fluid ounces

1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons

  • 6 teaspoons = 2 Tablespoons = 1/8 cup
  • 12 teaspoons = 4 Tablespoons = 1/4 cup
  • 24 teaspoons = 8 Tablespoons = 1/2 cup
  • 12 quarter teaspoons = 1 Tablespoon
  • 6 half teaspoons = 1 Tablespoon

Tips for Scaling a Recipe

When doubling a baked dessert recipe, you're better off baking the desserts in the originally intended pans. So, if you have doubled your favorite yellow cake recipe that is baked in two 8 inch round pans, you will want to bake the scaled recipe in four 8 inch round pans.

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But what if you don’t want to simply double a recipe but instead multiply it by 1.5 times? A little math is unavoidable, but let me give you an example of how to do this. You will need to come up with a conversion factor. This is done by dividing the desired number of servings by the original number of servings. So, if your recipe serves 6 and you want it to serve 10 your conversion factor would be 1.6. Here's how it works with a recipe for Beef Bourguignon.

Beef Bourguignon

Yield: 4-6 servings

Active time: 35 minutes

Start to finish: 2 hours, 35 minutes

1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1/2 inch slices (4 oz. x 1.6 = 6.4 oz)

2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 2 inch pieces (32 oz x 1.6 = 51.2 ounces)

Salt and pepper to taste

Flour for dredging

1 pound pearl onions, peeled (16 ounces x 1.6 = 25.6 ounces)

1 pound mushrooms, quartered (16 ounces x 1.6 = 25.6 ounces)

3 garlic cloves, minced (3 x 1.6 = 4.8)

1 tablespoon tomato paste (1 x 1.6 = 1.6)

1/2 cup brandy (8 ounces x 1.6 = 12.8 ounces)

1 stalk celery (1 x 1.6 = 1.6)

4 parsley stems (4 x 1.6 = 6.4)

4 thyme sprigs (4 x 1.6 = 6.4)

2 bay leaves (2 x 1.6 = 3.2)

1/2 bottle Burgundy or Côtes du Rhône wine (25.4 ounces x 1.6 = 40.64 ounces)

1 cup beef stock (8 ounces x 1.6 = 12.8)

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices (2 x 1.6 = 3.2)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup parsley, rough chopped (4 ounces x 1.6 = 6.4 ounces)

  1. Heat a heavy soup pot over medium heat and add the bacon.
  2. Cook until crispy and remove with a slotted spoon. Set aside on a plate and try not to eat all of it while making the stew.
  3. Increase the heat to high and season the beef with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the seasoned beef in flour just to coat.
  4. If the pan seems a bit dry add some grapeseed oil. Sear the beef in batches until caramelized on each side. Set aside.
  5. Add the pearl onions and mushrooms and cook until caramelized, about 6-7 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook an additional minute.
  7. Deglaze the pan with the brandy, scraping the bottom to loosen any browned bits and reduce by half.
  8. Tie the parsley, thyme and bay leaves on to the celery stalk and add this herb bundle to the pot.

panswithbeansNow you can see that when scaling a recipe to less than double, you end up with odd measurements. In a recipe like Beef Bourguignon, with lots of fresh vegetables and meat, I would simple round up or down and not worry about being exact. You can see how if this was a baked dessert recipe, it would be much more complicated. So I would stick to straight doubling, tripling etc. in those situations.

I would love to answer any other questions you may have on the subject of scaling recipes, so please post them in the comments.

Topics: recipe, beef bourguignon, measurement, measure, dessert, Ingredients

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