mini pies with a cup of coffee

Baking for One

How to bake up treats perfectly sized for one person

You want a delicious home-baked treat just like your mom used to make, but baking a whole cake when you’re single and live alone seems like a losing prospect.  Either you’ll end up eating the whole thing, which is not good unless you have the metabolism of a race horse, or you’ll end up throwing much of it away.  Either way, there will likely be guilt involved.  The third option is to take it to work, but how many of us are actually working in offices anymore and besides, it’s hard to bring in a cake that has a couple pieces missing.  I don’t know why, since people in offices will eat dirt if it’s left in the break room, but it just seems weird to bring half-eaten food to other people.  So, what’s a single girl to do?  Bake a single-girl-sized cake, silly!  Okay, how do you do that?  I’m going to show you, and give you all the tips and tricks in the process, including equipment you’ll need and where to get it, ingredient hacks, and where to find recipes portioned just for one.  Stick with me and soon you’ll be having your cake and eating it, too!

Equipment

If you’re a baker, you probably already have cake pans, a pie plate, and loaf pans, but they’re not sized right for just one person.  It time to invest in some single-serving baking pans.  Didn’t know such things existed?  They sure do, thanks to the uptick in popularity of mini-desserts.  I started with the basics:

  • 4” round cake pans (2) for layer cakes
  • 4” square pan for bars, brownies and square cakes
  • 3” pie plate
  • Mini loaf pans (2) for breads
  • 4” springform pan for cheesecakes

Where did I get them?  Amazon (where else?)!  As for muffin tins and cookie sheets, you can just use your regular-sized pans since you’re just cutting down the number of servings, not the actual size of the dessert.  It’s also a good idea to look for smaller mixing bowls, a set of measuring cups with a 1/8 cup measure, and a set of measuring spoons with a 1/16 measure, if you don’t already have these, as they’ll make your life easier.  You’ll also need a hand mixer for certain recipes.  A stand mixer is overkill for the small amount of ingredients you’ll be whipping together. Once you have your equipment in place, you’ll be all ready to start baking your single-serving heart out!

Ingredients

Seems like the ingredients in a single-serving baked good recipe would be exactly the same as those in a regular recipe and for the most part they are, but there are some things to keep in mind.  A lot of recipes call for one or two eggs and if you’re trying to size them down to a single serving that may mean you need 1/2 or 1/4 of an egg.  Ever tried to crack half an egg into a bowl?  It’s next to impossible.  You can beat the whole egg and use one tablespoon for 1/4 of an egg or two tablespoons for 1/2, but it’s not always easy to separate out that amount of a beaten egg.  My recommendation is to keep Egg Beaters or similar in your fridge.  There are even organic varieties.  They pour easily into a measuring spoon or cup, and they’re real egg, not some sort of weird substitute.  You can find them next to the eggs in your supermarket.  Other ingredients that may be a challenge are things that come in a can or package, like canned pumpkin puree.  You’re not going to use a whole can to make a 3” pie.  A lot of these ingredients can be frozen for future use, though, so don’t think that you’ll end up throwing most of an ingredient away, just make sure that you label it well in your freezer.  Standard ingredients, such as flour, sugar, butter and vanilla won’t give you any trouble, it’ll just be a matter of getting the measurements right.  Doing the math to get the right measurements for ingredients may seem tedious, but it’s essential for baking.  Unlike cooking, where you can throw in a little of this and a little of that, baking is an exact science.  It’s chemistry.  Delicious chemistry!

Recipes

Once you have the right equipment and ingredients for your single-serving baked treats, it’s time figure out what recipe you want to make first.  If you have favorite recipes that you want to adapt to a single serving, you’re going to have to do the math.  If a cookie recipe makes 4 dozen, you may want to cut it in half and then in half again to get 1 dozen, or you may want to take it one further to make just half a dozen.  If you’re cutting down an 8” layer cake recipe, you’ll need to cut the recipe in half and then in half again for a 4” cake pan.  I know, half of 8 is 4, but it doesn’t work that way when you’re talking about volume.  You’ll also need to adjust your baking time slightly with most recipes, as it won’t take as long with your smaller amount.  An easy way to get it right is to find recipes that are already portioned for you.  My rule of thumb is to make what you can eat in 1-2 sittings, unless you want more.  Recipes should tell you how much/many they make so you know what you’re getting yourself into.  You can find these recipes on places like Pinterest, cooking blogs, and Instagram.  I post photos with links to the recipes on my own Instagram.  Having the math done for you and the recipe already tested is the best way to relieve stress in the kitchen.  After all, you’re baking yourself a treat, so you want the entire process to be a treat!

Ready to bake up some single-serving treats to enhance your amazing single-girl life?  All you need are the right tools, some ingredient knowledge, and a few great recipes and you’ll be on your way.  There’s no reason you should have to skip home-baked treats just because you’re on your own, or end up stuffing yourself or throwing a bunch of food away because you just can’t eat it all.  A fringe benefit to baking just for you is that it’s easier and less time-consuming than baking up a full batch of something.  You’ll be enjoying your treats in no time.  I’ve given you the basics to get you started, so let’s get baking!

Wondering where to find tried-and-true baked-good recipes for one?  Follow me on Instagram (lesliekaz_singlegirlbliss) where I post a new “For One” recipe every Monday.  Some posts are appetizers, and the rest are all delicious baked goods tested (and eaten!) by yours truly.  Don’t miss out!

Leslie Kaz, coach for single women

I help single women get from where they are to where they want to be by overcoming their sadness and starting to live their best lives through mindset and lifestyle changes. Contact me to learn how it’s possible to live a single, blissful life.

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