11 Baking Ratios Every Pro Should Memorize

You’ve heard it said before that baking is a science — and it’s true. Ratios are the backbone of our favorite recipes for cookies, cakes and more. And understand the base structures of these items is what separates the pro bakers from the fakers.

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Why Ratios Matter

Any novice baker can follow a written recipe for chocolate chip cookies, but only a professional baker instinctively knows about how much flour, sugar, eggs or milk they need for fluffy pancakes, chewy cookies or tender crepes. It’s what separates the pro bakers from the fakers. Understanding the base structures of a few pastries, cakes and the like means you can let your creative juices flow when you want to make a batch of cookies on the fly. You can make variations in flavors and add or substitute ingredients, but each ratio represents the basic components needed to create the most elemental version of that food. Here are the 11 ratios that professional chefs in Food Network Kitchen return to again and again.

Pound Cake = 1 part flour: 1 part egg: 1 part fat: 1 part sugar

Baker Move: Pull your butter and eggs out of the fridge a couple of hours before you're ready to bake. Room-temperature butter is better for creaming, and you'll want the eggs at the same temperature to prevent them from seizing. 

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Classic Pound Cake

Pancakes = 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part eggs: 1/2-part fat

Baker Move: Slowly incorporate the liquid into the dry ingredients while whisking constantly for effortless, lump-free pancake batter.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Simple Homemade Pancakes

Meringue = 2 parts sugar: 1 part egg whites or 1 part sugar: 1 part egg yolks

Baker Move: Avoid cracks in your perfectly piped meringues by keeping your oven door closed while they dry out. Yep, that means no peeking. 

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Italian Buttercream

Pate a Choux = 1 part flour: 2-parts liquid: 2 parts eggs: 1 part fat

Baker Move: Not many novice bakers will start out making eclairs or cream puffs, but if you are up for the challenge, remember texture is key. Add just enough eggs for the batter to ribbon when pulled up by a spatula.  

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Spring Pastel Eclairs

Pie Dough = 3 parts flour: 2 parts butter: 1 part water

Baker Move: Soggy-bottomed pie crusts, be gone! Pros know to par-bake their crusts for fresh fillings. 

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Butter Pie Crust

Fritter = 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg

Baker Move: The key to a crispy fritter is to never crowd the pan. Drop too many in the frying oil at once and the temperature will plummet, producing a greasy, mushy fritter. 

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Corn-Industry Fritters

Cookie = 3 parts flour: 2 parts fat: 1 part sugar

Baker Move: Using a dough scoop (like a small ice cream scoop) to portion equal-size cookies adds a professional touch to your finished cookie plate.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Sugar Cookies

Custard = 2 parts eggs: 1 part liquid

Baker Move: Once you have that ratio down, remember to strain your cooked custard through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Vanilla Creme Brulee

Biscuit = 3 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part fat

Baker Move: Pros always scoop flour, sugar or other dry ingredient into a measuring cup, then use the back of a knife or other straight edge to level it off.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits

Crepes = 1/2-part flour: 1 part liquid: 1 part eggs

Baker Move: Crepe batter needs time to set up, preferably overnight in the fridge.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Basic Crepe Recipe

Muffin/Quick Breads = 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part eggs: 1 part fat

Baker Move: Baking times and temps can vary based on something as simple as the humidity in the air. Pros test the doneness of muffins, quick breads and cakes by simply inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean, they are ready to cool.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Blueberry Muffins

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