Leveling with measuring

In my 8th grade home ec class we learned to sift the flour before measuring and then level off with a flat edge.  Liquid measurements must only be measured in liquid measuring cups to right below the meniscus.  Do I actually do any of this?  Not a lot.  Do most home cooks?  No.  Most home cooks have one set of dry measuring cups they use for everything and things turn out mostly fine.  Mostly is the key word.  Savory cooking benefits from some serendipity in measuring inaccuracy.  However, pastry cooking does not.  If you’re making tollhouse cookies, you can argue that it doesn’t matter but try making french macarons with a “more or less” attitude and you’ll end up with a mess.  Most professional cooks and recipes use weight rather than volume measurements for a reason.

Here are my tips to improve your recipe consistency and quality.  Invest in a kitchen scale.  They’re not expensive!  Convert favorite recipes to weight measurements.  This improves your consistency so your (or mine and Berkeley Cheese Board’s) world famous cornmeal cherry scones turn out the same way every time.  Don’t bother converting teaspoon or tablespoon measurements.  Ingredients like sugar and liquid can also stay in volume measurements.  Just make sure to get the finicky things like flour into a neater weight measurement.  To close, here’s a present: a handy chart for conversion.

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2 Responses to Leveling with measuring

  1. Keane says:

    Great post, Elena! I’ve always had trouble with baking because I’m so used to estimating everything when cooking, something you can’t do with baking.

  2. Ken says:

    For sure! The single best fact I’ve memorized for baking is that one cup of AP flour is about 120g. That, a digital scale, and a little bit of experience with the más-o-menos of a good dough moisture level is all you need.

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