Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.
Did you catch my first post on using a digital kitchen scale? In that post, I focused on using a kitchen scale for portion control. The servings you eat affect your waistline and your wallet. Today I’m writing about using a digital kitchen scale for baking.
Have you ever come across a recipe that used grams or ounces instead of cups and tablespoons? If you have, chances are it was a recipe that originated overseas. Most household kitchens in the US don’t have a scale. I did some web searching to figure out why that’s so. King Arthur Flour has a fascinating (well, it was to me, anyway) section that discusses the history of baking measurements in the States. The site suggests that in the early 1800s, it was easier for Americans- especially those heading west in search of a homestead- to measure items with a “teacup” or “butter the size of an egg” and so on. Early American recipes and old cookbooks contain these types of measurements.
Sometimes recipes geared towards North America still have the weights written in next to the measurements (like the recipe I use below). Why does it matter? Why use a scale?
There’s a reason why measuring is important for recipes, especially when baking. Measuring cups and spoons just aren’t accurate enough. I usually blame my oven when something I bake doesn’t turn out as expected, but after learning more…I wonder if perhaps my measurements are off from the start.
To begin with, not all measuring cups are the same size. I’d never even taken this into consideration before researching. I would bake a cake and use one brand of measuring cups for flour and pull out a different brand to measure my sugar. The proportions are probably going to be off, unless you use the exact same measuring cup for measuring each ingredient.
Second, ingredients themselves can vary in size. A cup of flour in Southern Florida is going to contain more moisture and be fluffier than a cup of flour in dry Arizona (or winter in the North East). So if it’s humid, you’ll probably need to fill up your measuring cup a little more, and if it’s dry outside- the opposite.
The weight of flour, however, is something you can rely on, year round. So use that kitchen scale! It’s the same concept for most foods- dates, prunes, raisins, chopped carrots, sugar, grated cheese, and so on.
How much does a cup of flour weigh? Well, that’s debated. King Arthur Flour recommends 4 1/2 ounces, and that’s what they use in their recipes. TheKitchn.com, a popular home kitchen site, has a list of flours -all purpose, bread, whole wheat, pastry, etc.- and their recommended weights for each.
If the recipe you’re using gives a weight (or perhaps it’s listed in the beginning of a cookbook), always default to that. Other than that, you’ll most likely develop your own preference as you use your scale more.
For more on the accuracy of kitchen scales and why many people like them, read this article from the New York Times.
And I’m not going to waste this opportunity to promote my favorite brown sugar cookie recipe! These are my second favorite kind of cookies ever. They are in no way healthy, but they are SOOOOO TASTY. The recipe is for “Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies” from SeriousEats.com. Keep scrolling to see how I use a digital kitchen scale to measure my dry ingredients.
For this recipe, I used a MIRA Glass Digital Kitchen Scale (in gray). As I mentioned in my previous kitchen scale post, the tare function means you can “zero out” the weight of whatever bowl or plate, etc., you place on the scale.
In the photo below, I’d just added brown sugar. My egg and melted butter were already in the bowl. I pressed the “on/off/tare” button once, and it reset the scale to zero. Then I started scooping in my brown sugar until the scale read 330 grams.
If you don’t want to weigh in grams, just press the “unit” button. This scale also weighs ounces/pounds, millilitres, fluid ounces, and grams. Like the MIRA stainless steel scale, this glass one has an automatic shut off function and can weigh up to 11 pounds.
So after baking my cookies, guess how many dishes I had to wash? Just what you see in the photo below, plus my cookie sheet. Not bad, eh?
By the way, in case you’re wondering which scale I’m going to keep and which scale is going to make it into the kitchen of my sister-in-law-the-avid-home-baker…I’m keeping the stainless steel scale. They both work equally well. The glass scale is a little larger, and it looks classier. But I feel that the stainless steel top would be a little sturdier if I drop anything on it, and I’m a total klutz!
They’re both lovely, and I would recommend checking them out on (affiliate link>) Amazon. There are different colors available for the glass scale, which I think is pretty cool. The orange one is my favorite. 🙂
So what do you think? Did you learn something new about kitchen scales and measuring cups? Would you be willing to use one in your kitchen?
Note: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.