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Can I double a cake recipe?


amyknyc
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Hi -- I'm a longtime lurker here with a pressing problem. Six more people just signed into a birthday party I'm having tomorrow night and I'm wondering if I can double a Cook's Illustrated recipe for yellow cake (not my choice, but my husband is a longtime fan). It's a very basic two layer 9'' cake and I'm thinking of doubling it to add a third layer and then tossing the fourth layer. Is this wise? Will this do weird things to the cake? Help! TIA...

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For some reason, doubling cake recipes lead to disaster -- and I have never figured out why. Many cake cookbooks (Rose Levy Beranbaum specifically) recommends against ever doubling a recipe.

What I WOULD do, however, is make the single batch and bake it. Then make a second batch, bake your single pan as needed, but make cupcakes with the remainder for take-aways for your guests.

Problem solved.

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For some reason, doubling cake recipes lead to disaster -- and I have never figured out why. Many cake cookbooks (Rose Levy Beranbaum specifically) recommends against ever doubling a recipe.

What I WOULD do, however, is make the single batch and bake it. Then make a second batch, bake your single pan as needed, but make cupcakes with the remainder for take-aways for your guests.

Problem solved.

Sigh. I was afraid that would be case. I'll do two batches just to be safe. Thanks!

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Part of the mess-up seems to be about the baking powder and/or soda. If you double (or halve) a cake recipe, do you adjust these items likewise or leave the same amount as in the original recipe? I want to halve some recipes because I bought those sweet little cake-like molds, and I was wondering about this. I'd like to make different types of cakes rather than all the same. (Is this off-topic? Can we leave doubling and halving together? :unsure: )

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Sort of in the same vein, can you increase a cake recipe and then bake it in a deeper pan with more batter? I'm thinking of recipes that call for 8 or 9 inch by 1.5 inch rounds, and instead using 2 inch (or taller) rounds to get a taller cake.

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I'm wondering the same thing about doubling cake batter. I am making a wedding cake soon, and the recipe I am using calls for 2 9 inch pans. For the bottom layer, I have two 14 inch pans.

Do I need to mix each batch and then pour it in the pan, then mix the next batch and pour it in, and then the next, etc?

Any ideas how many batches it would take to fill a 14 inch cake pan?

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I'm not a professional baker, but I have taken some classes. As far as I know, there isn't any problem with increasing or decreasing a recipe in theory. The thing to remember is that the more you scale your recipie the more rounding error will creep into the final result....especially for the smaller quantity items.

For example, in a single batch recipe you might use "1/2 teaspoon" of baking powerder...but really the perfect recipe would have .4 teaspons. If you quintuple the batch and put in 2.5 teaspoons, you are now have an extra .5 teaspoons that you don't really want in there...which might or might not be a problem, but using just 2 teaspoons would be perfect.

If you have a very accurate recepie measured in grams rather than teaspoons and whole egges and such you will probably have better luck making multiple batches at one go.

If you want to make a really big batch, say 4x your normal, you could try finding a large quanity recipie and cutting it down by half rather than multiplying a small recipe by 4.

-Al

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funny u should ask the question about the wedding cake and the pans and how much..for a one 14 inch cake wiltons suggests using 10 cups of batter per layer and for the 9 ich one pan it calls for 5 and 1/3 cups per layer...keep in mind that the 9 ich layers should be baked at 350 F for 30 to 35 min and the 14 in should be baked at 325 F for 50 to 55 minutes.

u may want to make a single batch to determine how many cups a batch will yeild.....when making large amounts of cake though..one generally no longer uses ingredients by the cup but rather by the pound..however since i dont think u will be going commercial with this..what u really might to do is just make one batch at a time and pour them into the pans...remember not to fill the pans more than 1/2 to 2/3 full or u might wind up with a mess at the bottom of your oven that u were not expecting.... and i think i just gave an answer to two different people here so i hope it makes sense.....lol

Edited by ladyyoung98 (log)

a recipe is merely a suggestion

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Uh.....er......

I must say, as a professional wedding cake designer, that I double, triple, and quadruple recipes ALL THE TIME. I do even more than quadruple....but uh, I don't know the word for it.... :raz:

The key to accurate doubling (or halving as the case may be) is to use WEIGHTS. Weighing your ingredients is extremely accurate and makes it easier to increase or decrease the sizes of your batches. In fact, here is a handy calculator online that makes it easy to convert different ingredients from cups to pounds.......click here

Gee whiz.......if I didn't double my recipes and had to make a single batch of cake every time I had to do a wedding, I'd never get anything done!

I can't believe someone would say to never double a cake recipe! That's a bunch of horse-poopy!

As far as how much batter goes in the pan.......I've always used the general rule of filling my pan just a tad over halfway full. Works EVERY time! :rolleyes:

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I must say, as a professional wedding cake designer, that I double, triple, and quadruple recipes ALL THE TIME. I do even more than quadruple....

Absolutely, I mulitply recipes all the time, all day long. I can't recall the last time I had a negative problem multiplying a recipe. The answer is "YES" you can double your yellow cake recipe with out any problems or adjustments.

When you multiply recipes you have to understand the techniques/methods of baking. So when a recipe tells you 'beat until light and creamy, 5 minutes beating on medium speed.' you have to forget times and make adjustments. In a large bowl a small quantity will beat very quickly but if your mixer is over filled it's going to take longer to reach 'light and creamy". Follow?

Just as a recipe will tell you aprox. how long the recipe takes to bake in a 9" pan: If you tripled your recipe and baked it in a 12" pan it's going to take a long time to bake because the pan is over full. If you baked that triple amount in a larger pan say a 18" pan, the batter would be thinner and bake in less time then the deeper amount in the 12" pan.

Some pastry chefs adjust their oven temp.'s and when you bake something larger, deeper-you bake on a lower oven temp. And when they bake a small item they bake it quicker in a hotter oven. I personally don't change my temp. times (rarely) because I don't find it makes that big of a difference-from years of my experience doing so.

I multiply recipes that are in conventional cup measurements and recipes in weights. I don't think it makes any difference. The only rule is make sure your math is correct and you multiple every ingredient and don't forget something.

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Uh.....er......

I must say, as a professional wedding cake designer, that I double, triple, and quadruple recipes ALL THE TIME. I do even more than quadruple....but uh, I don't know the word for it.... :raz:

The key to accurate doubling (or halving as the case may be) is to use WEIGHTS.

Ditto. As long as you're measuring carefully, you should be able to scale recipes up or down with little or no problem.

I've got a set of spreadsheets that I use for this stuff. One has calculations for how much batter will be used for different pan sizes, and shows a recipe multiplier (1 recipe = the right amount for 2 8"x2" round layers). The other spreadsheets are my recipes. There's a spot for the multiplier - plug it in, and you get the weights for scaling a recipe to the size needed for your particular application. So for a wedding cake that's 6"-10"-14" round, you need .6+1.6+3.1 = 5.3 times your base recipe (OK, I'm not THAT anal -- I'd round to 5.25).

Quintuple, hextuple, heptuple, octuple. I can't go any higher, because my mixer's not big enough. :wink:

B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

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Annie - thanks for the converter link, and bkeith, I'd love to have your formulas. I'm always fiddling with pan sizes and never feel very secure about the process (which usually involves having my husband do the math, math-impaired person that I am).

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OK, just to update everyone:

Out of sheer laziness, I ended up doubling the recipe with little problem. The only thing that happened is that the cakes turned out denser and slightly thinner than they have when I've made this recipe in the past. I'm not sure if doubling it had that effect, but it's never happened before and that's the only thing I did differently. Otherwise, the cakes tasted great! Thanks for all your help.

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I would suggest the reason for the denser and flatter cake was how you handled the batter differently because there was more volume of it. The recipe it's self would not be the cause for this, you can easily mulitple a cake recipe by 2 and not have any baking science go wrong nor need to make any leavening adjustments. The science should be fine.

What typically might happen to less experienced baker when they multiply recipes is they under develop or over develop the product. "Under develop", example: not whipping your egg whites enough, not creaming your butter and sugar long enough, leaving lumps of flour in your batter because you were scared to continue folding. "Over developed", examples: you beat your whites until they were dry/too long, or when you added your flour you mixed it into the batter so well you developed your gluten making a heavier cake.

I hope that made sense.....I explained it well enough? It's a very very very rare recipe that can't be multiplied.

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