But I almost wasn’t. In 8th grade, I took high school-level Algebra with Mr. Cobb at Great Bridge Middle School South. He was an ex-military hard ass whose breath stunk. He wore old man pants and told me after I got a 74 (a D in the Chesapeake, Va. school system) on my Algebra mid-term that I “would never be good at math.”
My average in that class? A “B”, which I pulled up to an “A” in the 3rd quarter because I sat behind Ben Harris and he was a hottie. On the final I also got a 74. Nonetheless, Mr. Cobb recommended me for Geometry, in which I was at the top of the class and tutored other students. By the time I was a sophomore I was struggling through Algebra II but acing Trigonometry. Yeah, I was that kind of math student.
Ray says I have math anxiety, and I agree. Stuff beyond basic arithmetic confuses me, and I get upset about the possibility of getting things wrong (thanks Mr. Cobb) and potentially hosing a recipe. But for baking, you need to be comfortable with math because sometimes you need to scale a recipe up or down beyond 50%. Like I had to do last night.
I have a recipe for vanilla bean cupcakes that yields 24, but I only wanted 16. Ray explained how I would find the ratio:
Yield desired / Current yield = Ratio
Then to get the new ingredient measurements:
Original recipe measurement * Ratio = New recipe measurement
So that meant 16 / 24 = 0.6667 and the new measurement for butter ended up 0.75 cup * 0.6667 = 0.5 cup
This may seem simple to some, but breaking it down into a couple of equations I can refer to helps. I know Ruhlman has a whole book and app on ratios, which I’ll definitely need to check out as I write more of my own recipes from scratch.