Sometimes you want to bake but you don’t want too many baked goods lying around. Especially now, when there’s not that many people to share with. When I make a tiny cake, I usually only make one 6-inch cake layer which requires dividing the recipe I want to use in half, thirds, or even fourths. Dividing recipes can be intimidating and does require some math, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a recipe fail from dividing it! It’s definitely doable. The tips here can be applied to many types of baking, not just cakes.
It’s easy to look at a recipe that calls for one egg and think you can’t divide it, but that is not the case! All you need to do is crack the egg into a bowl, lightly beat it until it’s all a consistent texture, and then measure out half. You can measure half (or thirds, fourths, etc.) using a liquid measuring cup or a kitchen scale (see next tip). The same approach also works if a recipe just calls for egg whites.
It’s a bit trickier when a recipe only calls for egg *yolks*, but still possible. Separate out the yolks, lightly beat, and then measure.
Ok, maybe you’re thinking: but I’m still wasting part of an egg to do this! That is true, but I think it’s way better than wasting baked goodies that don’t get eaten
Using a kitchen scale with grams
When I first started dividing recipes, I was using all sorts of weird fractions and conversions, like trying to divide 1/3 cup by 3. This works, but it can quickly get confusing and you might end up using the wrong amount of something. If the recipe you’re using has amounts in grams, I highly recommend measuring them out using a kitchen scale like this one. Then you’re only dividing whole numbers, not fractions. Kitchen scales have a “zero” button, so you use it by placing your bowl on the scale, zeroing it out, and then adding your ingredients until they reach the desired amount. You can also use the scale to add multiple ingredients to the same bowl, just add the current weight on the scale + the amount of your next ingredient to see what the new total should be. My favorite part about using a scale is that you don’t need to get a measuring cup dirty, just pour your ingredients directly into the bowl.
It’s harder to use grams for smaller ingredient amounts that call for tablespoons and teaspoons, but often a lot of recipes in grams still use these units for smaller amounts.
Some handy conversions
When it’s not possible to measure in grams, the most common conversions I use when dividing recipes are:
- 1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
- 1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons
- 1/8 cup = 2 tablespoons
For example, if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of something and you’re dividing it into fourths, that’s 1/8 cup. That is not a measuring cup most people have, but it’s the same as 2 tablespoons. See? That math class you took years ago is finally coming in handy!
Write out the amounts before baking
Baking + math *at the same time* don’t mix very well. I’ve found it very helpful to write out all my divided amounts *before* I start measuring ingredients or baking. This sounds simple, but it really makes a big difference! Once I’ve written out all of the new ingredient amounts for a recipe, I like to measure the ingredients out before I start baking.
Any tips for dividing recipes that I missed? Let me know in the comments!