I love ratio baking because it requires less brain power.
Yes, not using a recipe uses less thought on my part.
Well, once I started to figure out all the math, that is. Math is my weakest area, so it took me about a month to figure out the 3-2-1 cookie ratio. Which is why I started with the 1-1-1-1 cake ratio first.
But, honestly, baking without a recipe is easier on my brain than using one. It might seem weird because, with a recipe, everything is spelled out. There shouldn’t be much thought put into it.
Well, baking with a recipe, for me, involves:
- Figuring out what kind of cake I want. That’s really not too hard because I always side with chocolate.
- Finding a recipe. Do you have any idea how many grandmas made the world’s best chocolate cake?!
- Making sure I have all the ingredients. I guarantee you, I do not keep shortening, molasses, corn syrup, buttermilk, coffee, liqueurs, etc. stocked. And I’m back to step 2…
- Hunting down my measuring spoons and cups because my kids are enamored with them.
- Getting out two or more bowls because recipes call for adding wet and dry ingredients alternately into a third mixing bowl, sifting the flour into one bowl and adding it into the mixing bowl, and mixing the dry and wet ingredients separately. So, read the recipe carefully first.
- Precisely measuring out everything (which should be done by leveling off the measuring cups with the back of a knife) and keeping track of how much I’ve added so I don’t have to start over.
- Mixing, which can sometimes be confusing and require adding ingredients in specific orders and certain ways. I always end up reading this at least half a dozen times to make sure I do it right.
- Baking. Finally! Just have to double check the baking temperature and time…
And using ratio baking requires:
- Deciding to bake. I’m always up for it.
- Taking out my scale, three bowls (one for the eggs, one for the butter, one for the dry ingredients, though sometimes I use the same bowl for the latter two), a spoon, and a knife.
- Weighing the eggs. It’s easiest to do them first because everything else can easily be added or subtracted to get the right weight.
- Weighing the butter (I use the knife to cut it), sugar, and flour (plus cocoa powder for chocolate cakes) to match the eggs.
- Mix. There are different mixing methods, though the creaming one (cream butter and sugar first) is the easiest and more common one. I prefer the egg foaming method of whipping the eggs and gradually adding the sugar first.
- Bake! For 3 eggs, a temperature of 375 degrees for 25 minutes in an 8 inch round pan works great. No double checking necessary.
Of course, starting out with ratio baking was slow. And it does take a little time to ensure equal weights, but, overall, ratio baking is faster and easier for me. There’s no making sure I have everything and double checking every number and step. There have been so many days when my daughter and I have literally walked through the door, I’ve said to her “let’s bake,” and we have cake within the hour.
My favorite part is that, by not having to reference a recipe, I’m better able to interact with my kids. I can talk to them without saying, “Hang on. I need to measure out the flour.” There’s also no more wondering if I counted the number of cups of flour right anymore, and having to start over. Instead, I spoon flour into a bowl, chat with my kids, and keep an eye on the weight. My kids even get to help dump everything in, when they’re not busy banging unused and lonely measuring cups on the counter or eating chocolate chips.
Baking with ratios is so much more relaxing. I do have to make sure I take what I need out so I don’t forget anything, but that takes mere moments. I love not second guessing myself and reading the same number 10 times. I love being able to calmly answer my oldest child’s numerous questions while scooping out flour. And, when mommy is relaxed, the only meltdowns they have involve who gets to sit on the counter next to the bowl.
So there you have it. It may not be true of everyone who ratio bakes, but I definitely find it’s easier on my brain, is more relaxing for me since I’m not anxiously quadruple checking everything, and baking with kids is a much calmer endeavor because I can offer more of myself to them.
Have you tried ratio baking? Would you?