Recipe changes – What not to do when baking

 Since I haven’t cooked anything more complicated than bacon and eggs this week, I thought it would be good to reprint a guest post I did for a few months ago. I’ll have some new recipes posted soon.

There are a handful of recipe sites that I peruse periodically to get inspiration when I want a sweet treat. I particularly enjoy sites that allow readers to leave comments  and rate recipes.  When someone leaves a bad review for a recipe with a list of 4 or 5 changes, I always cringe. Many bakers don’t realize there is a lot of chemistry happening when baking cakes, cookies, and breads. Seemingly small changes to a recipe can drastically change the end result. 

Here are five recipe changes to beware of when baking:

  • Reducing the amount of sugar – Sugar helps cakes and cookies retain moisture during baking. Reducing the amount of sugar in a batter not only reduces the sweetness but it can cause your baked good to be dry.
  • Changing the type of flour – all flours are definitely not created equally. Different types of flours contain different amounts of protein, which determine the texture and crumb. Low protein flours like cake and pastry flour produce very different results than high protein flour like bread flour.

  • Reducing the amount of fat- Fat acts as a tenderizer when baking. Drastically reducing the amount of fat can make your cake tough.
    • Using a different size pan – Changing the size of pan that a recipe indicates increases or reduces the amount of surface area directly exposed to the heat. Increasing the surface area causes the food to cook faster. Decreasing the surface are causes food to cook slower. You can end up with an over cooked cake or a cake that isn’t done in the middle.
  • Changing the cooking time or oven temperature – You can easily overcook or undercook something by varying the published time or temp by a few minutes or degrees. The exception to this is if you know that your oven isn’t properly calibrated, you may have to adjust to compensate.

    1. Lesley
      July 1, 2011

      I am so guilty of changing recipes. This is a great post for people like me!

      • jfoster
        July 3, 2011

        I’m guilty of it too. The trick is knowing what to change and what not to change.


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