2 Responses to “Tipping the Balance”

  1. J. Moragoda says:

    I would add to the above, that bakers use weighing scales as it is not as easy to adjust a dough, where ingredients need to be added in a particular order as it is say for a curry where you can adjust almost any ingredient along the way.

    Living in the tropics where the average relative humidity is above 80%, I would like to add a proviso: RH does sometimes even mess up the accuracy of weighing ingredients, especially for hydroscopic ingredients such as flour and sugar – as does climatic temperature. For instance, for breads and cakes, since flours absorb more water in humid conditions, sometimes the amount of liquid to dry ingredients used needs to be reduced. However, the same holds for its affect on volume measurements.

    Weighing ingredients is vastly superior and efficient, once you get the hang of it. Rose Levy Beranbaum’s classic book, The Cake Bible published a couple of decades ago was an early American advocate of baking by weight rather than volume. Her cookbook was probably the first US cookbook to provide recipes in tabular form giving comparative volume/weight (grammes and ounces) alongside each other which helped me make the transition as well as to be able to convert between the three systems. In addition, it was one of the first books which employed practical and scientific explanations for the effects of different ingredients on baking outcomes.

    Standardization would be great as when using cookbooks from different countries, each seems to have their own idiosyncracies which make no sense to outsiders and different definitions of what constitutes a cup, teaspoon, etc.

    I measure minute quantities such as salt or spices by volume or feel as it is more practical, but for larger quantities I use the scale. Otherwise, you would need to use two separate scales if you want to obtain accuracy – one to measure minute amounts (eg: capacity of under 100g – these are quite expensive) in addition to one which can handle larger weights such as 5kg or higher.

    Warning – When the supposed standardization to the metric system came about there were more cookbooks which give measurements in both metric and imperial weight measurements. Sometimes when you check the conversions, you find that they really do not match. Seems editors sometimes forget to check the math.

  2. Jeanette says:

    I have long used a scale for all of my baking, using a table of weight equivalents that I put together to translate to weight from cups. I’ve always wondered if humidity affects the weight of flour, since so many recipes for bread say that the exact amount of flour will vary eighths amount of water in the flour.

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