Have you ever wondered about how to develop your own recipes and or to make your current ones better? Being able to adjust recipes to your own needs can make your life much easier when dealing with allergies! These concepts apply to all kinds of cooking, but we will be talking about baking in this particular post.
There are really 3 main parts of any recipe that can be changed: The ingredients, the technique, and the cooking method. The easiest thing to mess with is the ingredients. The overall technique can be helpful to tinker with, but is oftentimes really unnecessary. Changing the cooking method or time significantly is typically unnecessary.
Where to start?
Most of the time we are in this place because we have a favorite recipe that we want to make gluten free or otherwise allergen friendly. First, you need to look at what kind of recipe it is – is it a quick bread style? pancakes? a loaf of bread? maybe a pie? The less structure a recipe requires (quick breads require little structure – a rustic loaf of bread requires a ton), the easier our path is.
If something is a low structure recipe, I will often times just take the base recipe and make a straight substitution for what I’m doing and see what happens. Let’s say it’s your grandma’s banana bread recipe. If you have a preferred gluten free flour, go ahead and just swap that 1-1 for the wheat flour and see what happens. Or maybe you need to make it dairy free, or use an egg substitute. Make you substitution and find out how it performs.
How did it work? Was it a total and complete failure? Did it work fairly well but maybe it’s a bit mushy? Maybe we went for more of a grain free approach so we used coconut and almond flour. It’s got that bit of an extra mush to it characteristic of coconut flour. Can we try it again and decrease the coconut flour? Even a tablespoon can change things. Also the other way, you went with all almond flour but it’s just a touch too wet and the structure is really loose. Add a tablespoon of coconut flour and see if that helps.
As you experiment and bake more you will find how things work and what they do and don’t do well. Sadly gluten and grain free baking takes quite a bit more experimentation and there is rarely a one size fits all strategy.
Change up how it’s made!
The next stage is to totally change how the recipe is approached. Yes, it’s a banana bread, which is normally a “throw it all in a bowl and mix”. It’s still too wet and dense, though, so maybe we separate the eggs and whip the egg whites and then incorporate them and see if that lightens things up.
Oftentimes just playing with ingredients will get you there, if not start with small tweaks to technique. If you do too much too fast, you won’t be able to tell which change is affecting the final product.
Heat it up!
Changing cooking method is another aspect of how to develop your own recipes. You may want to adjust your cooking method both before and after tweaking the ingredients and techniques.
You noticed on the first try of our grandma’s banana bread that your top was dark brown but the inside was mush. Drop the temp by 25 degrees and add on 5 minutes until it reaches its correct final internal temperature. This kind of small time and temp adjustments are easy to do and often times help solve the problems.
The next stage is to totally change how we are cooking our recipe. If our banana bread is sagging in the middle and is dense and never cooking in the center, let’s try changing how we bake it. Instead of a regular loaf pan, use mini loaf pans. They will cook faster and more evenly overall. The other benefit to going smaller is that the overall structure has to hold less weight. You will probably get a nicer rise and texture overall than with a large loaf. Another option would be to use a muffin tin.
These are all potential ways to make something better. As you do more of it, you will find it easier to develop recipes totally from scratch, but oftentimes you will take an existing recipe and make it better or use ingredients to fit what you need.
It will be frustrating at times, but enjoy the journey and have fun. Use it as bonding time to cook with your kids and to teach them that one failure is not the end of the story. Try try again!
Do you have any tips for developing recipes? Or do you have a recipe you would love help with? Let us know! We would love to help!
Make it a tasty day,