As you know, baking is about precision and
accuracy and that's why I've always been an advocate of weight
measurements. As you've probably noticed, all the recipes on joyofbaking.com
give both volume and weight measurements. For example if a recipe calls for all
purpose flour, it is written "1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour". The reason I
write recipes in this way is that depending on where you live you may use volume
(cup) measurements or you may weigh (grams) your ingredients.
I believe the reason home bakers in the United States haven't adopted
weight measurements is because digital scales were
once hard to find and if you could find one, they were expensive. This is
not the case any longer. Today you can find digital scales on line or in
most stores that sell kitchen equipment. And what is amazing is that some
brands of digital scales sell for less than twenty dollars. That's about
the same price as a good set of stainless steel measuring cups.
Professionals seldom measure their
ingredients by volume (cups). They usually prefer measuring by weight, and there are many reasons for this. Baking is not like
cooking where you can add a little extra of this ingredient or leave out
that ingredient. Baking is all about precision and accuracy so that
you can achieve consistent results. And there are so many variables when
baking - your ingredients, how you measure your ingredients, the mixing technique, your pans, temperature and humidity, and your oven.
Some of these variables are hard to control, but you can control accuracy
by weighing ingredients. Unfortunately this is not always true when measuring by volume (cups),
especially with dry ingredients. One excellent
example is flour. If you "dip" the measuring cup into the flour bag you
will get a different amount of flour than if you "spoon" the flour into
your measuring cup. This is because flour tends to compact with
transportation and storage and there is also the problem of humidity
affecting its' density (volume). However, neither of these things will
affect the weight of flour. Because a 130 grams of flour is always 130 grams
Weighing ingredients is about accuracy, but it's also
makes things quicker and easier. A scale is so simple to use. All you need to do is 'zero' your scale, place the ingredient
on the scale, and you're done. You can even weigh one ingredient after
another, in the same bowl, by just "zeroing" your scale. No need to worry anymore about
whether you should "dip" or "spoon" your flour into your measuring cup.
Lastly, you may wonder why I use 'grams' (metric)
instead of 'ounces' when I live in the United States where metric
is not used. The reason is 'gram'
measurements are so much easier to work with. You can scale a recipe up or down
with little effort. But the major reason is because the word "ounce" can
refer to both volume (capacity) and weight (mass). There are
'weight' ounces and there are 'fluid' ounces. For example,
you can have 4 ounces of flour (weight) and 4 fluid ounces of milk
(volume). Totally different things. And speaking of the metric system. Another question
often asked is why does 1 cup of flour weigh 130 grams while 1 cup
of granulated white sugar weighs 200 grams, when they are both 1 cup
measurements? The answer is easily explained when you think about 1 cup of
feathers and 1 cup of rocks. Everyone knows these two things
don't weigh the same amount even though they have the same volume. The same holds true for ingredients
as density, therefore weight, does vary from ingredient to ingredient.
Hopefully you will try weighing, at least your dry
ingredients. Below is a chart listing some commonly used dry ingredients
with their corresponding volume and weight measurements. While this chart
is by no means complete, it's a good start and feel free to add your own
list of ingredients and their weights for easy reference. The weight
measurements listed for each ingredient have been used to test all the
recipes on the site.
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