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HELP: I love to bake, but my waistline doesnt!

Right now, I'm cooking for only 3 people, and really only 2 because one of them, a 15 yr old boy, has very infantile tastes, and likes nothing except chocolate chip cookies and white cake (which are both nice, but get old). I like to bake new things, muffins, cakes (with different flavors!), mousses, etc. Here's the problem, its always too much and we can't finish it all (okay we probably could, but we'd also have to get liposuction or something). What should I do? Any tips on what to do with leftover desserts or how to avoid leftovers? I love the look of layer cakes, but am now thinking I should halve all recipes/ quarter them to get single layers, or only 6 cupcakes.

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  1. I halve or even quarter recipes all the time. Some people will say you can't do so reliably with all recipes, but I have never had a problem.

    For layer cakes I will bake a sheet cake and cut it into small layers, or use small loaf pans. If you chill a cake well it's easy to cut. Or, if you know you will want to bake small layer cakes often you can buy small pans.

    Or, you can almost always freeze leftover desserts. Or give them to your nicest friends!

    1. Do you work in an office? Bring the extras in there...people in offices eat anything.

      6 Replies
      1. re: valerie

        This is what I do sometimes, but I do realize that those people also should not be eating so many baked goods either--if I worked with people who all ran marathons, no problem but 2 of them have had knee replacements, etc., and are already overweight...sheesh! So lots of times, I'll make a snack-size cake in 8x8x2" pan or in a loaf pan. Works for us!

        1. re: Val

          take the goodies to the nearest firehouse--those folks work out daily, and home cooked goodies is something they probably don't get often!

          I'm learning to make bread with the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes books and have taken quite a few loaves and rolls to the local fire stations.

          1. re: toodie jane

            That's an excellent idea todao!

            DH works with local law enforcement quite a bit so I've been sending baking with him to various detachments he visits... I shouldn't overlook our local volunteer fire dept.

            1. re: maplesugar

              Our rural CalFire crews work out seriously. They have to be exceptionally fit to work the steep backcountry terrain. And they are usually youngish guys w/o much experience cooking for themselves at their dorm. Breads go really well with all that chili they make!

            2. re: toodie jane

              A friend of mine volunteers as an auxiliary cop.. I've sent him with baked goodies to the precinct several times. Cookies and brownies and other 'pickup' items are usually the biggest hits.

            3. re: Val

              Yes, I find if I half a recipe meant for an 8x8 pan it fits nicely into a loaf pan. That is provided it's a recipe that takes well to being halved...just takes a little experimentation.

          2. I find a 7x11 inch pan more useful than an 8 or 9" square one. You get more edge area than on an 8", which is nice if you like edge pieces. Also, you can halve the cake to achieve a 5.5x7" two-layer cake. I also like mini-muffin tins - good for portion control and when you just want a few bites of something sweet. I routinely halve recipes with excellent results. You can freeze most cakes, but it may be easier to leave the half you're going to freeze unfrosted, freezing cake and frosting separately, then defrosting and assembling the day you're using them.

            1. I've started making one-bite/mini desserts rather than a whole cake/pie ...have one and freeze the leftovers. When I mix up a batch of cookie dough I bake off what I need then portion out the dough on a cookie sheet, wrap and freeze, once theyre frozen transfer to a ziploc bag.

              Another recipe that's easy to scale down are crumbles/crisps. I use whatever fruit is in season and top with a light sprinkle of granola. Hope that suits the rather picky teen, since it's pretty much like fruit pie... if you make it in individual ramekins his can be topped more traditionally.

              myrecipes.com has a lot of Cooking Light magazine recipes, (as well as Southern Living so be sure to search CL)if you're careful you can find desserts that are lighter in calories and fat.

              1. I have halved a layer cake recipe numerous times, just making one 8-in layer. Then I halve it and make half a layer cake. Much less that winds up in the garbage can (don't want to freeze it, because I limit my sweets and when I do want something home-baked, I'd rather indulge my fondness for baking than taking a piece out of the freezer).

                1. Some recipes scale down, some freeze well. I also share a lot with the neighbors and the postman. They love it.

                  1. There's a cookbook called Small-Batch Baking that addresses this issue. I've made a few things from it, and they've worked well for me.


                    4 Replies
                    1. re: optimal forager

                      Here's a link to the author's site with three small-batch dessert recipes (and two standard size recipes).

                      I have this book and have made the oatmeal cookie and scone recipes a number of times...it's great for keeping me honest about portion sizes!


                        1. re: nofunlatte


                          Here it is: http://www.smallbatchbaking.com/sbb/r..., and I've edited my post above as well.

                          1. re: allgimbel

                            Some of the recipes in that book are great... others leave a lot to be desired. I'd still love to have the cookbook though!

                    2. lyntc10, I relate and am very mindful of my own caloric intake. I bake far more than I consume but I do a good deal of tasting and experimenting as I go, so my portions typically come from being the baker!

                      Depending on the recipe, I either make small batches by dividing the recipe, or I make the entire recipe and freeze batches. So even if the recipe calls for 48 cookies; I bake 12 and freeze/refrig the dough for another time or another occasion. Instead of one large cheesecake, I make mini cakes. This works out well for me and my family. And, I usually have something on hand to bake for a last min. get together or party right out of the freezer.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: HillJ

                        I am struggling with the same problem. I am retired and at home. I love to bake and find the freezer is the best place for keeping the goodies out of site. My problem is that I just bought a Pillbury pie crust and want to bake a cherry pie for my husband. Meanwhile the package is still in the freezer. Then yesterday I bought a frozen pastry which was on sale and I want to bake baklava for my daughters birthday. That too was placed in the freezer.

                        1. re: classylady

                          Too funny classylady! The defrosting is up to you :)
                          I'm defrost the night before. Kitchen lights out, PC off, check the plugs, check the freezer. Or shape the cookies (for instance) prior to freezing and then you can go from freezer to oven with more stable results.

                      2. I'm rather fond of baking, but since I'm gluten free, it's a little harder now. So I cherish the delish slices of cake I can pop out of my freezer. I freeze the slices on parchment paper and then fold the paper around them once frozen, and then saran wrap them. Pop them in a ziploc and you're good to go. It's easier to forget about them in there, and it takes a while for them to thaw. Slows me down, anyway.

                        1. I totally understand. It is just my husband and I at home and I teach cooking classes, too, which makes it tough on the waistline (all that tasting and advance prep even before the classes!). One of my favourite desserts that is a low fat option is individual pavlovas. Rather than buttercream use a nice yogurt and top with fresh berries such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, mango, whatever. I usually make a raspberry coulis to go underneath as the colours are breathtaking plus it tastes yummy. I then drizzle with a lavender or lemongrass syrup (just some lavender or lemongrass infused in a simple syrup). When you make individual ones they are done - gone. No leftovers.

                          1. So, I usually do freeze cookie dough (even though I don't really need to since the 15yr old boy could eat dozens of them without gaining a pound). But I've never tried freezing cakes. So it seems that the consensus is freezing unfrosted cake is a great way of storing it? What's the best way to avoid weird freezer flavors?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: lyntc10

                              Wrap very well in layers: first plastic wrap, then foil, then pop the whole thing into a ziploc bag. This should protect the cake from freezer odors/flavors, and also from freezer burn. It's best to allow them to defrost at room temperature to avoid condensation.

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                good advice from Caitlin, cake freezes well and that's exactly how I do it. Sometimes I also wrap it multiple times with masking tape to protect it from....me. Often I come to my senses before I get it completely unwrapped. ;-)

                                1. re: danna

                                  When my folks bought a large upright freezer, Mom used to bake double--make 2 pies, 2 cakes, double or quadruple batch of cookie dough, and freeze the extras. She always had something she could pull out at the last minute for the days she did volunteer work. She'd pull them out in the morning, defrost in the kitchen fridge, then frost or garnish. Oh, those lemon chiffon pies! (eyes roll back) We kids would always request it for birthday 'cake'!

                            2. Oh boy I can relate! There is simply NO way I can eat, freeze, or even give away the experimenting and cooking I'd like to do. Not just sweets and baked goods but meat and new-to-me vegetables and just things I want to try because I've read about them. It's very frustrating. Also no way to justify buying $pecialty items just to play foodie--oh dear, a little bitter here. And very jealous of those of you who have many to cook for!
                              Today I tried muhummara for the 1st time, and tomorrow a ciabatta (which looks suspiciously like no knead bread?). This will last me at least 3 days, so I must wait that long to cook for fun again. Errrgh!

                              1. Find a lonely elderly neighbor.

                                1. Take them to church... take them in to the office... give them to your neighbours/relatives/friends/people who you know don't bake. When I bake I usually divide the recipe in two - half for us and half for our elderly non-baking neighbours.

                                  1. Just came across this blog post by the folks behind the Not Your Mothers... cookbooks. The post recommends specific pans for baking smaller desserts, and is accompanied by two recipes: one for a 6-inch chocolate melt in your mouth cake and one for a chocolate chip cookie-cake heart.