{How to Alter a Recipe – The Do’s and Don’ts} – Cum modificam o reteta

how to alter a recipe

You might notice two tendencies on my blog: one is using some basic, fail-proof recipes to create new ones and the second – trying new recipes, tweaking them, changing ingredients, flavors, spices. I love a challenge and sometimes I just go to the kitchen and say to myself that old recipes are boring, I need something new, I need something interesting, I need a challenge – and that is when I go online, find a dessert I like and 10 recipes for it then I compare their sugar content, fat content, the balance between dry and liquid ingredients and settle for a mix of all those recipes. If you are like me and love to just wonder around and read recipes then you know that most of them are set to fail from the start. I strongly believe that baking is not that scientific as some people claim, but it’s not as straight forward as savory cooking either and it does involve a bit of chemistry.

A baking recipe needs a balance in order to yield a great result and some recipes found online are set to never succeed considering that sometimes they have too much liquid or other times too much flour or sugar. I can usually tell just by reading the recipe if it’s going to work or not which is why I tend to create my own recipe for a dessert rather than use someone else’s. Plus, it is crucial where you get your recipes from – I tend to trust blogs and professionals more and avoid sites that receive recipes from their readers simply because they are rarely tested or who tested is not a professional and might not have ended up with the result it was supposed to, despite the good review.

But I also have a bunch of recipes that I always go back to, especially when my baking inspiration is on vacation and I have to bake something quick without wondering if it’s going to work or not. This usually happens for cake orders when the last thing I want is waste ingredients and time in case something goes wrong.

The do’s and don’ts of altering recipes in my opinion are as follow. Learn how to alter a recipe in these simple steps:

  • Start small – turning a cake recipe into a cookie recipe is not going to happen, not for a novice in the kitchen anyway. Just start with a recipe you’ve made countless times before and you it’s fail-proof. Just before altering the recipe, right down what you plan to do, the new ratio of ingredients and any other changes you plan to make because if it turns out great you want to save the recipe and not do it again from memory.
  • Start with flavors rather than messing with important ingredients, such as sugar, flour or fat. It depends on recipe though.. For cookies for instance, fat is very important if you want a crumbly, tender cookie, but for cakes, the dry-wet ingredients ratio is important. Disturbing this balance might turn into a fail cake so start with ingredients that don’t affect the structure. Nuts, fruits, flavors are a good start for altering recipes.
  • Make one change at a time – if you’re looking to design a good recipe, do it step by step, changing just one ingredient at a time. If you do too many changes, it will be hard to track down the one that worked and the one that didn’t. And remember to always right down what you did.
  • If you want to reduce a certain ingredient, start with only 10 or 15% and once you are happy with the result proceed to cutting down more and more. Be more careful with structural ingredients, such as sugar or fat. They play an important role in recipes like cookies and changing them might alter the final texture of the cookie.\
  • If you want to replace a certain ingredient, make sure that the substitute has the same consistency as the original ingredient. For instance, flour can be partially replaced with cornstarch or cocoa powder, but replacing it completely with any of them will yield a different result. Milk can be partially or completely replaced with water or almond/soy milk, but coconut milk is thicker than whole milk so additional water may be needed to thin it down. Buttermilk can be replaced with yogurt, but not with fresh cream because it has a higher fat content and it’s thicker. Butter can be replaced with vegetable fat or lard as long as they have the same fat content.
  • Be careful when replacing butter for oil – they have different consistencies and a different fat content. Plus, oil is liquid and asks for more dry ingredients, while butter doesn’t. The moment you add oil instead of butter, you might have to change the amount of flour too. Also, oil interact differently with ingredients like sugar or eggs.
  • If you’re trying to replace sugar with sweeteners, read carefully the instructions of the sweetener because some of them are much sweeter than sugar and the quantity used might need to be altered.
  • Replacing flours only works if you use similar substitutes in terms of consistency and texture. In sponge cakes, you can replace part of the flour with cornstarch or corn flour in order to obtain a fluffier, lighter cake. In other recipes, cocoa powder can be used as substitute. It gets more complicated when you want to replace wheat flour with gluten-free substitutes. Gluten has a huge role at bringing the dough or batter together, so once the gluten is removed, the dough will have a different texture and will bake differently too. In addition to this, each flour has its own properties and characteristics so make sure to study each of them and know them well. For instance, some gluten-free flours absorbs more liquid than wheat flour does and that means you will need to adjust the amount of wet ingredients in the recipe. And that is just one example to start with!
  • Congrats! You just made a new recipe from a old one or successfully combined two or more recipes into one! But don’t say you “created” a recipe. No, you reinterpreted a recipe, you tweaked it, you changed a few bits, yes, it turned out great more than once, but from there to recipe creator there is a long way. Most recipes don’t just come to someone’s mind, they take attention to details and proportions, they take a bit (more) chemistry, they take a certain understanding that not everyone can reach up to simply because it belongs to a certain part of the pastry world and it requires not only a lot of study, but also a lot of experience.

ROMANIAN

Cum Modificam o Reteta

Observati pe blogul meu doua tendinte cand vine vorba de retete: fie retete vechi in combinatii noi, fie doar retete noi. Trebuie sa spun ca nu-mi place sa ma repet cand vine vorba de retete, asa ca, exceptand cateva retete carora le raman fidela si pe care le am salvate intr-un carnetel, incerc mereu retete noi. Imi plac provocarile si retete complicate, acelea de care te plictisesti doar citindu-le, insa nici retele rapide nu sunt de evitat, caci nu mereu am timpul necesar pentru a petrece ore construind o reteta.

Modul in care ajung la o reteta e urmatorul: de obicei totul porneste de la o idee pe care fie o vad intr-o fotografie a unui desert, fie chiar intr-o reteta. Iau o coala de hartie si imi notez ideea apoi construiesc in jurul ei. Pentru un entremet, fac schite peste schite, caut combinatii de texturi si gusturi care sa se potriveasca, schimb si iar schimb pana imi place rezultatul final.

Din pacate, multe dintre retetele mai simple de tipul muffins, fursecuri, checuri, pe care le gasiti online sunt pure inventii ori gresite, de aceea tind sa dau credibilitate blogurilor, mai ales daca ele includ si fotografii si mai ales daca au fotografii pas cu pas ori sunt bloggeri cunoscuti, specialisti in domeniu. Evit siteurile gen colectii de retete unde toata lumea poate contribui cu o reteta fara a dovedi corectitudinea ei. Odata ce sunt multumita de reteta aleasa ma pun pe treaba si o incerc. Acum e proba – cateodata imi iese si reteta ajunge pe blog, alteori nu iese ce ma asteptam si atunci reteta nu mai ajunge pe blog, evident. Tineti cont ca sunt multe variabile implicate in reusita unei retete (a nu se confunda insa cu ingrediente in cantitati variabile – 100g e 100g, indiferent cum o dai, cum o intorci). Uneori chiar umiditatea poate schimba rezultatul final, nu mai vorbesc de temperatura cuptorului sau modificarea fie si a unei mici cantitati de faina sau ingrediente lichide. Exista multi factori care pot influenta rezultatul final al unei retete!

Iata insa cateva reguli de care trebuie sa tineti cont atunci cand doriti sa modificati o reteta:

  • Nu va intindeti mai mult decat va este plapuma, incepeti la scara mica – sa faceti dintr-un tort o retete de fursec nu se va intampla prea curand, insa puteti sa va “jucati” cu ingrediente. Incepeti cu o reteta in care aveti incredere, pe care ati mai facut-o inainte si cunoasteti pasii si ingredientele. Inainte de a o altera, notati-va toate modificarile, realizati un plan si aveti grija sa stiti dinainte sau sa va notati ulterior noua proportie de ingrediente, in caz ca iese minunat si v-ati dori sa o repetati.
  • Incepeti cu agenti de aromatizare mai degraba si lasati ingredientele de baza, precum faina, zahar, grasimi asa cum sunt pana capatati ceva experienta si intelegeti cum functioneaza o reteta. Orice mica schimbare poate dezechilibra reteta asa ca incepeti cu ingrediente care nu afecteaza consistenta ori structura. Nucile, alunele, fructele, aromele sunt un bun inceput!
  • Realizati cate o modificare o data – daca va doriti sa modificati reteta si sa o imbunatatiti, faceti acest lucru pas cu pas, modificand ingredientele pe rand astfel incat sa observati si sa intelegeti efectul pe care aceasta modificare o are asupra produsului finit.
  • Daca vreti sa reduceti un anumit ingredient, incepeti cu un procent mic, 10-15%, si pe masura ce rezultatul iese bine, puteti mari procentul. Insa avti grija mai mare cu ingredientele de baza – zahar, grasimi, faina – proportiile lor schimba intreaga consistenta a prajiturii.
  • Daca vreti sa inlocuiti un anumit ingredient cu altul, asigurati-va ca cele doua au consistente si vascozitati asemanatoare, precum si proprietati. Faina, de exemplu, poate fi partial inlocuita cu amidon sau cacao, laptele batut cu iaurt, dar laptele de cocos nu e un inlocuitor fidel pentru laptele normal intrucat primul are un aport de grasime mai mare. Mai exista apoi si faina fara gluten care iarasi nu e un inlocuitor fidel intrucat fainurile fara gluten absorb umiditatea in mod diferit. Asta inseamna ca orice produs cu faina fara gluten necesita putina munca de cercetare inainte.
  • Untul si uleiul pot fi inlocuiti doar in anumite situatii si mai tot timpul cand vorbim de cantitati mici. In caz contrar, daca in reteta scrie unt, folositi unt!
  • Daca veti sa inlocuiti zaharul cu indulcitori, cititi bine instructiunile intrucat exista indulcitori cu o putere de indulcire mult mai mare decat zaharul.
  • Felicitari! Tocmai ai modificat cu succes o reteta! Asta nu te face creator de retete insa. Mi-as dori sa avem mai putini creatori si mai multi specialisti care stiu sa explice de ce se folosesc anumite ingrediente si nu altele, care inteleg chimia din spatele unei retete si procesele care au loc cand combini ingrediente. Creatia vine dupa studiu si experienta si exista cofetari care abia dupa ani de zile au inceput a se numi cofetari, fara a mai vorbi de creatori de retete! Asa ca va recomand sa aveti grija la termenii pe care ii folositi! Nu va fie rusine sa recunoasteti ca ati facut reteta cuiva si a iesit bine – ganditi-va cat a muncit omul acela pentru a o crea, a o produce, a o testa!

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  1. La fix articolul tau !Mii de multumiri!Asta pentru ca am de plan sa adaptez o reteta de a ta ,reteta pe care am facut-o deja si mi-a iesit de minune.Mie imi place combinatia prune cu ciocolata ,asta am constientizat-o mancand bomboane “Chisinaul de seara”.Si pentru ca e sezonul lor si sunt de-ale noastre ma tot gandesc la o constructie.

    • Multumesc. Sigur ca stiu cine e Rose Levy, dar pe partea de retete exista si alti specialisti, poate mult mai calificati pe anumite puncte. Oricum, per total trebuie sa invatam de la toata lumea, de la cei mai mici la cei mai mari. Multumesc pentru sugestie!