Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Measuring Up

Quick question: when you bake, how do you measure out your ingredients? Do you use measuring spoons and cups (measuring by volume), or do you use a scale (measure by weight)?

Until recently, I always brought out my mismatched measuring cups and banged up measuring spoons to make sure I had the right amount of ingredients. I filled cups with flour, scraping off the excess with a knife. I used my Pyrex measuring cup to dole out a cup of milk, a 1/2 cup of water.

But now? Now I've found a better way.

Thanks to my sister for buying me an awesome birthday gift, I am making a big switch. Instead of measuring out ingredients, I am going to--when possible--weigh them instead. According to the baking gurus (the folks over at King Arthur Flour), weighing out ingredients is much more accurate. Apparently, measuring cups can, by law, vary up to 12%. I never knew that before, and in some cases, that 12% might make the difference between a light fluffy cake and one that's more like a hockey puck.

The scale my sister bought me is from Salter, and it lets me do a lot. I can put my Kitchen Aid mixing bowl directly on the glass scale, turn it on, add a few scoops of flour, and get an accurate read (in ounces) on the digital display. I can also switch the scale from ounces to fluid ounces if I am measuring liquids. I think measuring by weight is not only more accurate, but also faster, easier, and less of an ordeal.

If you're really into baking, you should consider making the investment and buying a quality scale. It will change the way you work! And, if you're interested, here are some common conversions:
  • All-Purpose Flour (1 Cup): approx. 4 1/2 oz. (this can vary depending on what kind of flour you're using. Refer to the conversion chart that comes with your scale.
  • Granulated White Sugar (1 Cup): 7 oz.
  • Brown Sugar (1 Cup): 8 oz.
  • Butter (1/4 Cup/4 Ts): 2 oz.
  • Honey (1/2 Cup): 6 oz.
  • Almonds, Whole (1/2 Cup): 2 1/2 oz.
  • Almonds, Sliced (1/2 Cup): 1 1/2 oz.
  • Chocolate Chips (1 Cup): 6 oz.


Lynn said...

I'm bad at measuring, sometimes I don't even use measuring spoons or cups, just what looks right. Which accounts for why things hardly ever turn out the same way twice. We'll it keeps my family on their toes - never knowing what to expect. Seriously - I'll be interested to see how you like your scale.

phairhead said...

I've recently gotten into baking that might be just the kitchen helper I need :D