Whether you work at a catering company, in a restaurant that has been booked for an event, or are just at home cooking for family, sometimes there is a need to multiply a recipe and scale it to the number of guests.
Of course, the opposite can be true as well; sometimes you need to halve or shrink a recipe to only a few servings. Large recipes may need to be adapted to your particular situations.
That being said, not every recipe can be scaled easily, or scaled at all. You may think it’s a simple case of multiplication or division. And while that may work for the amount of potatoes each person will eat, it’s not the same when taking into account cooking processes, seasonings and other items.
Soups, Stews, and Sauces
The easiest recipes to scale would be Soups, Stews, and Sauces. Other than larger pots and pans, the cooking processes remain stable across the recipe sizing. As such, these are the items that are not only easiest to scale, but also the easiest to serve mass quantities of.
Soups and Sauces in particular are easy to portion out and freeze if needed, and able to be quickly re-heated and served. With stews, it may depend on the meat content, but they are still fairly easy to scale and serve.
They’re simple go-tos and will help fill tummies while the mains are being prepared and served.
Another relatively simple item to scale and serve. Sandwiches, along with wraps and other like items are fairly easy to scale. You take one unit, and scale up as needed. The more important thing is knowing where to find that much bread on short notice.
This is less of an issue however if you bake your own bread, however baking brings its own set of challenges to the table.
There is nothing like fresh baked bread, or pizza dough, or croissants. Seriously, a freshly baked decadent croissant filled with butter, you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced that.
But leaving our dreams of baked goodness for a second, baked goods can be the most difficult recipes to scale. It’s mostly down to the yeast in this case. Scaling up yeast along with the other items in bread can cause it to turn into a bubbly mess. Dividing it, can cause you to add so little that it does not raise bread at all.
And of course, a larger loaf of bread needs a bigger pan, and needs more time to cook all the way through, which can be hard to control if you’re not used to the size you’re dealing with. What do you toast in a toaster? Bread, not toast.
Combine that with regulating the amount of salt and sugar a recipe asks for, and the amount of time that dough takes to cook, and if you’re not careful you have… well a recipe for disaster.
One thing you may have to consider is batch cooking. This means that you take a recipe, and recreate it with each “batch” – making identical amounts each time. Depending on what you’re preparing, this can work, especially if it’s items that can be par-cooked, such as bread or potatoes and veggies, and you can finish off later.
Of course, you don’t want to assemble an entire dish before you’re ready to serve. So batch cooking, while it can alleviate a lot of the symptoms that come with scaling recipes, also requires very careful preparation and planning, in order to get the best results for your guests.
Cooking up a Storm
Preparing large batches of food for events can be a difficult task. Not only is the amount of ingredients something you need to take into account, but there are also cooking procedures, storage, and serving. If you can get these elements right, then guests and customers are certain to return.
MenuSano can help alleviate part of these tasks with our recipe scaling feature, that allows you to do exactly that; scale the ingredients in your recipe to allow for larger, or smaller servings.
In addition, we now allow you to add videos of prepping procedures – for those times where written recipe instructions just aren’t enough.
Sign up for a free trial today and see how MenuSano can help you get your holiday menu out faster than ever before.