Monday, September 27, 2010

Measuring Ingredients for Baking

Before I post details on recipes I have made or recipes I try out, I thought I should talk about how I measure ingredients. I grew up baking using measuring cups and spoons. Then I went to culinary school where we were only allowed to use balance or digital scales. Since I have used both methods, I will tell you that I prefer weighing everything out. Below are the reasons why:
  1. You can keep your recipes consistent that way
    • when using cups and spoons they can differ from day to day depending on how much you pack the ingredients down or whether or not you sift it. By weighing it stays the same no matter what.
  2. You can increase or decrease the size your recipes much easier
  3. You will use less dishes which means less clean-up later
    • you can weigh ingredients that go in at the same time into the same bowls
    • you don't have to wash the extra cups and spoons.
I also prefer to use the metric system. It means less conversions from pounds to ounces in order to divide or increase a recipe. I try to convert recipes that are in cups into grams as I am working so that I will have the recipe consistent for later use.

You will see in future posts that most of my recipes will be in grams. Scales are pretty cheap and can be purchased at most houseware stores. If you prefer to convert them back to cups, at the bottom of this post is a chart of some common, quick baking measurement conversions. There are also plenty of online sites that will do the math for you, such as http://www.onlineconversion.com/cooking.htm.

Next thing that is very important in baking is measuring everything out before you start to combine your ingredients--it's called mis en place, meaning things in place. There are a few reasons for this:
  1. It allows you to make sure you have everything you need. This way you are not in the middle of mixing and realize you don't have enough of an ingredient.
  2. It helps you work cleaner and more organized.
  3. Batters are put together much quicker
Weight
1 lb = 16 oz
1 oz = 28.35 grams
8 oz = 1 cup

Volume
1 gal = 4 qt
1 qt = 2 pt or 4 cups or 32 (fl)oz or 907.2 grams
1 pt = 2 cups or 16 (fl) oz
1 cup = 8 (fl) oz
1 (fl)oz = 2 tbsp
1 tbsp = 3 tsp
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