How To Modify A Recipe

In our cooking classes we are often asked by our guests how we can modify recipes with confidence. The truth is, we rarely work to a recipe and when we do it is never followed exactly. Certain ingredients will always work together in the same way and some recipes should be kept relatively untouched but others can be adjusted to create unique, original recipes that you or your family will love. If you are a little nervous about the idea of messing with a recipe then these 4 tips will help boost your confidence and have you cooking your own masterpieces in no time.

1) Getting The Basics Right

Start with a base recipe. If you are wanting to experiment with cake recipes, start with a basic mixture and get that right first. You can then feel confident to add or subtract ingredients and substitute for food intolerance.

Example: Cupcakes

The basic cupcake or sponge cake recipe has only 4 ingredients.

To make this vanilla cupcake into a chocolate sensation, add a few tablespoons of cocoa and a splash of milk. The cocoa is dry so by adding a little milk it will balance the cupcake when it is baked and cooled.

You can get creative by adding a moist and a dry ingredient to the basic cupcake recipe. Consider apple, almond and cinnamon or add a handful of frozen berries for an almost healthy alternative. Moist ingredients like apple, pears, berries, honey, and cream cheese can be balanced out with dry ingredients like coconut, bran, extra flour, cocoa, coffee powder or nut meal. You can also add juices such as apple juice or orange juice to a cupcake to give it a deeper flavour and moist texture.

2) Look for Obvious Substitutes First

In spaghetti bolognaise you couldn’t successfully remove the tomato, but you can use a different type of mince or beans and vary the vegetables. Zucchini is a favourite of mine in this dish because it dissolves … I call it my invisible vegetable! Squash or any of the eggplant varieties can generally be used instead. Chilli can be substituted for a small amount of capsicum or most peppers.

Flour and dairy are challenging to get right if you have a variety of allergies. You may be gluten intolerant, dairy intolerant, allergic to rye or wheat … you will need to investigate specific substitutes for your recipes to suit your situation. Generally self raising flour mixes can be found in most health stores with a variety of combinations of grain to suit almost any allergy. Look for future articles with more substitution ideas and the suggestions in the notes of most of our recipes.

3) Be Selfish

Your recipe should suit your taste first and foremost, if others like it you should be flattered but they may not make it the same even if you give them the recipe. Everyone likes a different amount of garlic and tomato or a different type of cheese with their spaghetti bolognaise. The point of modifying a recipe is to make something that is perfect for your taste buds.

4) Fussy Eaters

Do dinner parties with certain friends get called off because there are too many dietary requirements to consider? You can’t modify a recipe if you only have a list of “don’t like” or “can’t eat” ingredients, you must gather a “do like” or “can eat” list to ensure you are cooking to that persons taste or allergies.

When you have a list of ingredients, type those into our search box on Cuisine Australia or at Google and you’ll be met with hundreds of recipes using those ingredients. This will save you hours of searching and eliminating!


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