A reader, Cynthia, suggested I do a column on reducing baking recipes. It was a good idea, because many folks have been baking during the pandemic and some, those feeding one or two, may want to know how to a make a recipe that, for example, yields 12 cupcakes, or three dozen cookies, yield a smaller amount. Here are some tips.
• When reducing recipes, pick those that can be easily divided. In other words, determine if anything on the ingredient list can’t be easily reduced in volume.
• When reducing a recipe, know that 1 cup equals 16 tablespoons, half cup equals eight tablespoons, third cup equals five tablespoons plus one teaspoon, and quarter cup equals four tablespoons. One tablespoon equals three teaspoons.
• It’s always important to accurately measure using standard measuring cups and spoons. And that’s even truer when reducing baking recipes, because a little more, or a little less, of a key ingredient could cause things to go very wrong.
• If reducing a recipe that originally called for one large egg, know that one large egg, when beaten (not until frothy), is about three tablespoons. One large egg white equals two tablespoons and one large egg yolk, one tablespoon.
• If reducing a recipe that originally called for one, eight-gram packet of yeast, know that it contains two and quarter teaspoons of yeast.
• When you reduce a recipe, for a loaf or muffin, for example, you’ll have less batter in the bowl. It’s very important to scrape the bowl and utensils used to ensure you get every bit of that batter into the baking pan.
• Reducing recipes means you’ll be using smaller implements to make them. A hand-held mixer, rather than large a stand mixer, works well for ingredients that need vigorous beating, although many smaller batch recipes can be mixed by hand. You also need smaller mixing bowls, baking pans, such as mini loaf pans, six-cup muffin pan and, if using a toaster oven, pans that fit it.
• What size of pan to use, and baking time, will depend on how much you’ve reduced the recipe by, and what type of recipe it is. Unfortunately, I don’t have room to expand on that here, but if you do an Internet search of “small batch baking” recipes and “baking pan” sizes you’ll find a mountain of information to guide you.
Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
This recipe yields four moist, nicely spiced cupcakes. Apple sauce replaces the oil often added to this type of recipe.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 23 to 25 minutes
Makes: four cupcakes
8 walnut halves (divided)
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 large egg
1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp each baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup grated carrot
2 Tbsp currants
2 Tbsp medium unsweetened coconut flakes
• vegetable oil spray
1/4 cup firm cream cheese, at room temperature (see Note)
2 Tbsp (1/8 cup) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp icing sugar
Coarsely chop four walnuts halves; set the other four aside until needed below.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat and combine the granulated sugar, apple sauce, egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla in a medium bowl.
Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a second bowl and whisk to combine. Mix in the carrot, chopped walnuts, currants and coconut. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.
Lightly coat four of the cups in a non-stick muffin pan with oil spray. Divide and spoon the cupcake batter into those four cups. Bake 23 to 25 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when gently touched in the centre. Cool cupcakes in the pan 15 minutes. Now carefully remove from the pan and cool to room temperature.
To make frosting, beat cream cheese, butter and 1/8 tsp vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and well combined. Now gradually beat in the icing sugar until all is incorporated.
Pipe or spread frosting on the cupcakes and top each one with a walnut half. Refrigerate cupcakes, an hour or so, to set the frosting, and then tent with plastic wrap until ready to enjoy. Cupcakes can be made up to a day before needed.
Note: A quarter of a 250-gram brick of cream cheese will yield the 1/4 cup needed here.
These cupcakes freeze well, at the ready to thaw and enjoy at another time. Without the frosting, the cupcakes become carrot muffins you could enjoy for breakfast or brunch.
Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.