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What Does "Divided" Mean in Baking?

Take the mystery out of this common cooking instruction.

What Does Divided Mean in Baking

When you see the word "divided" next to an ingredient in a recipe, it means that the ingredient will be added in parts.

So, if you see 6 tablespoons of butter, divided, you know not to add all of the butter at once.

The instructions will specify how much butter to add at the different steps.

In a recipe for roasted chicken, for example, you might put 3 tablespoons of butter onto the chicken before you put it in the oven. Then you might use the remaining 3 to make a rich sauce with the pan drippings after the chicken is cooked.

Or in a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, you might mix in most of the chocolate chips when making the batter. And then you might top the rolled out balls of dough with a few extra chocolate chips.

Why are recipes written this way?

Since so many home chefs are confused by this note, you might wonder why recipe writers use it.

For one thing, it keeps ingredients lists tidy. This way, you don't have to list butter three times in your chicken recipe. This is the main reason for writing recipes this way, and it's become something of a standard.

It also makes creating your shopping list much more simple. You know from a glance how much of each ingredient you need for your recipe, and you don't have to worry about accidentally buying the wrong amount.

What does divided mean in baking?

Tips for Reading Recipes with Divided Ingredients

Just read the recipe instructions closely.

When you see a step that incorporates the divided ingredient, look for additional instructions on how much of that ingredient you are adding. You know you don't want to add all of it at once. So, the recipe writer will have a note on how much should go in at each step.

It can also be smart to read the entire recipe before you begin cooking. That way, if you want to prep your ingredients, you can divide the ingredient as part of your prep. For example, you can put half of the butter you are using in one prep bowl and half in another.

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Loved the explanation! Very simple and easy to understand with varied examples. I also loved how we got to see why recipes are written this way and how it can make reading recipes and shopping easier. Thanks for the great tips!

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