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It really confuses me and I can't seem to find the reason for that. It's amazing how it apparently never bothered anyone.

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  • But some recipes do use of. May 6, 2020 at 2:24
  • Perhaps a cup of milk isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
    – David
    May 6, 2020 at 18:14

2 Answers 2

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I think it's excluded because it adds no value to the instructions. Historically recipes have either been hand-written or printed which means limited space on a page. Removing words that add no value is a logical efficiency gain (especially when writing by hand). I would guess this approach has just grown to become the standard.

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    It might also be considered redundant. If every line in a recipe used of it could become tiring to see the word used so often when it's not required for understanding in the first place. May 6, 2020 at 2:25
  • @JasonBassford I agree. I think I even had that in my answer at some point but it didn't make through the editing process 🙂 May 6, 2020 at 2:59
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This is just idiomatic English and has been for many centuries. Take for example part of this recipe "[f]or to make gyngerbred" from circa 1400:

Tak & put half a quart hony in a bras panne

(Take and put half a quart honey in a brass pan)

(Via the MED and another site)

That same recipe also calls for you to "tak a pound of pouder gyngere" (take a pound of powdered ginger), so that shows that both forms were used simultaneously.

A similar thing happened with words like “dozen”. The preposition “of” was originally used, for example in “For ix dozen of breede” (For 9 dozen of bread) from 1425. Gradually, this form was replaced by the version without “of” as in “x dosen Curlewes” (10 dozen curlews, a type of bird) from 1450. (Both quotes via the MED.)

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