A gallery of some of the common and uncommon ways recipes are structured. This isn’t an exhaustive collection, just some examples I’ve collected while working on Designing a Better Recipe.
The format is described in the book:
It will be seen, by reference to the following Recipes, that an entirely original and most intelligible system has been pursued in explaining the preparation of each dish. We would recommend the young housekeeper, cook, or whoever may be engaged in the important task of “getting ready” the dinner, or other meal, to follow precisely the order in which the recipes are given. Thus, let them first place on their table all the INGREDIENTS necessary; then the modus operandi, or MODE of preparation, will be easily managed. By a careful reading, too, of the recipes, there will not be the slightest difficulty in arranging a repast for number of persons, and an accurate notion will be gained of the TIME the cooking of each dish will occupy, of the periods at which it is SEASONABLE, as also of its AVERAGE COST. ( 55 )
The introduction describes the motivation:
All of the master recipes and most of the subrecipes in this book are in two-column form. On the left are the ingredients, often including some special piece of equipment needed; on the right is a paragraph of instruction. Thus what to cook and how to cook it, at each step in the proceedings, are always brought together in one sweep of the eye. ( ix )
Some recipes list ingredient weights as a baker’s percentage, where one ingredient (for baking, this is usually flour) is set at 100% and then the other ingredients are listed as weights relative to that.
This makes it easy to scale a recipe by a multiple (“I want to make four loaves”) or around a limited ingredient (“I only have 200g of strawberries”).
An example from Tartine Bread. The method spans multiple pages, and further in-depth discussion and history follows. Nearly one quarter of the book is devoted to this single “recipe.”
|Water (80°F)||700 grams plus 50 grams||75|
|Total Flour||1,000 grams (1 kilogram)||100|
|White Flour||900 grams||90|
|Whole Wheat Flour||100 grams||10|
Some recipes specify ingredients as ratios. A classic mirepoix is 2 parts onion : 1 part carrot : 1 part celery. This is especially useful for something that will be used as part of another dish (e.g. a mirepoix might be the base for a stock and not a dish itself), so the amount you need depends on how it’s going to be used.
- “Barley Salad”. Modernist Cuisine, 7 February 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
- Eliza Acton. Modern Cookery, In All Its Branches. 1845. Internet Archive, b21531857.
- Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child. Mastering the Art of French Cooking. 1961.
- Isabella Beeton. The Book of Household Management. 1861. Internet Archive, b20392758.
- Hattie A. Burr. The Woman Suffrage Cook Book. 1890. MSU Libraries Digital Repository, https://n2t.net/ark:/85335/m5dm30.
- Michael Chu. “Chocolate Cake”. Cooking for Engineers, 23 May 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
- Chad Robertson. Tartine Bread. 2010.
- Irma M. Rombauer. The Joy Of Cooking. 1923. 1957. Internet Archive, in.ernet.dli.2015.126676.