The Advice Column
A.The kind of help you need epends on the problems you’re having with the recipe, but also on your plans for the finished recipe. Is it for commercial production or home use? Are you going to
be serving this this in a restaurant? Publishing the recipe in
a cookbook? Do you need a nutritional analysis? Are you
dissatisfied with the crust or the filling, the flavor or texture?
Are you looking for a longer storage life, or a pie that will
freeze well, or travel well?
You have asked how to find someone to work with you on
the recipe, but first you might want to try to fine-tune the
recipe by trouble-shooting on your own. There are many
sources online that may be of help.
CraftyBaking.com offers solutions to common baking
problems at https://www.craftybaking.com/learn/baked-goods/pastry/problems-and-solutions
The brilliant bakers at King Arthur Flour in Norwich,
Vermont, will answer baking questions by email at http://
www.kingarthurflour.com/contact/ and you can reach them
on their Baker’s Hotline at 855-371-BAKE (855-371-2253).
You mentioned that you are experimenting with sugar
substitutes. You can find discussions about the use of
sugar substitutes in baking at Food52 at http://food52.
baking-recipes-but-avoid-the-dryness, and about
specific ingredients, such as brown rice syrup, at
sites like LiveStrong.com: http://www.livestrong.com/
If you have used low-fat ingredients, this article from the
Cooking Light website explains the roles of sugars, fats,
and eggs in baked goods. They do not use fruit purees as
a substitute for fats, but instead reduce fat in other ways;
this article explains why. http://www.cookinglight.com/
If you would like to turn your recipe over to someone
else to tweak it for you, you can try approaching a local
culinary school. You might have the best luck at a high
school culinary arts program. Call your local school district
to find the one nearest to you, and contact the head of the
program. He or she might be interested in taking on your
recipe as a class project or an extra-credit assignment, and
this would be at no cost to you.
There is also the option of hiring a professional to tweak
your recipe, or to develop a whole new recipe based on
your ideas and goals. Many professional recipe developers
are willing to work on small projects, even a single recipe.
To find a professional recipe developer, look for ads in food
magazines and culinary trade publications.
Though the fees will probably total several hundred dollars,
a professional will ultimately present you with a recipe
that works and meets your requirements, and that has
been tested and edited and is ready for use, whether in
production or for publication.
I am developing a recipe for a spicy sweet potato-pumpkin pie
(crust and filling) that emphasizes superfood (healthy energy-giving)
ingredients. I’m trying to stay away from refined white sugar by
experimenting with stevia, brown rice syrup, honey and brown sugar.
I am not a professional cook and the recipe needs fine-tuning. How
can I find someone to work on this with me?
M. K., Los Angeles, California
Answered by Denise Landis, professional recipe tester for over
twenty-five years and Publisher/Editor in Chief of The Cook’s Cook.
Finding Help in Developing a Recipe