I can’t recommend enough that if you like to bake, you should buy a kitchen scale! If you’ve taken a glance around my recipes, you may notice that they all consist of measurements in grams. This is not to make the recipes more inconvenient, but rather to improve the success of the recipe for when you (my lovely readers, hi!) try my recipes.
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So, why should I use a kitchen scale?
Kitchen scales are a must in the kitchen for many reasons.
They make sure your recipe turns out as close as possible to how my recipe turned out.
When you use the measurements that I have provided on my recipes, you know that you are using the same exact measurements that I used and that there is no variability in how much of each ingredient went into your dough or batter.
They make sure you end up with a consistent product every time you bake the recipe.
Measuring using cups is often inconsistent as people measure their ingredients in different ways and have different brands of measuring cups which can vary in size. When you use grams for measuring, you know that you are using the same exact amount of each ingredient every time you bake.
They cut down on kitchen cleanup.
No more cleaning a bunch of measuring cups after baking, or trying to get all of that sticky honey out of the cup, only to realize there’s a good amount still left in there. Pour those ingredients directly into the bowl!
Certain recipes are very temperamental.
Certain recipes, especially things like yeast bread, scones, and meringues can be very sensitive to changes in the recipe. In yeast bread and scones, having too much liquid or too little flour can lead to a sloppy mess that won’t come together properly in the end. In a meringue, the product can collapse if not enough or too much sugar or acid is added.
Now, of course, using a kitchen scale is not a guarantee that your recipe will turn out. There are many other factors that can contribute to the success or failure of a recipe: humidity, elevation, over or under-mixing the batter are just a few things that can make or break a recipe. However, using a scale eliminates the possibility of adding too much or too little of an ingredient which can easily cause a recipe to fail.
Of course, when looking at a recipe that uses cup measurements, you can try to convert that recipe to grams but gram measurements are not one-size-fits-all. Different measuring cup brands can vary in volume, and different websites utilize different measurements for what constitutes a “cup” of an ingredient.
Let’s look at measuring cups:
Now personally, I only own one set of measuring cups so I will be using those for my little experiment. Measuring cups come in all sorts of fun shapes and sizes, so it’s no wonder that the measurements may end up being a bit inaccurate amongst brands! Food 52 has a fun article on how different measuring cups vary in weight. Not only that but there are a variety of ways that people measure their flour! The most common methods are spooning the flour into the measuring cup and leveling the top with a knife, scooping the flour into the measuring cup and leveling the top with a knife, and finally, fluffing the flour with a fork, spooning, and leveling it off. Let’s take a look at how measuring your flour affects the amount that you are putting into your recipe.
Experiment 1: Measuring Methods
For this little experiment, I utilized the methods that I listed above. Spooning and leveling, scooping and leveling, and then fluffing, spooning, and leveling.
As you can see, the results were different for each method. For creating my recipes, I utilize the King Arthur Baking converter, which tells me to use 120g for a cup of flour. When using the spoon and level method, you end up with 139 grams of flour. The scooping and leveling method yielded 144 grams of flour. The method that was closest to the amount of flour I was using was fluffing the flour and then spooning and leveling it, which yielded 123 grams.
So from above, you can see that if you were to try and convert a recipe from grams to cups, it would not be accurate as depending on the measuring cup you have and how you measure your flour, it will still vary from the amount called for in the recipe.
Let’s look at some converter websites:
For the purpose of making things easier, I’m going to be focusing on flour measurements for this part as well. Over-measuring and under-measuring flour is going to be the biggest make-or-break in your recipe because flour helps create gluten, which strengthens the protein networks in your dough or batter. Now, this is a good thing, because for most recipes we do not want the item to fall apart, but too much gluten can lead us to a dough or batter that is tough, too chewy, and dense.
Experiment 2: Converter Websites
For this little experiment, I googled “cups to grams converter” and clicked on the most popular search results, as this is what people would be clicking on when trying to convert their recipes. I also added in king arthur’s conversions, because they are quite popular and reputable for their ingredient weight chart.
|Source||1 “cup” flour in grams|
|the calculator site||125.16|
|king arthur baking company||120|
|charlotte’s lively kitchen||161|
As you may notice, the measurements vary from 125 grams all the way up to 161 grams. This may not be much of an issue if you were measuring in smaller amounts, but say you were making a recipe that calls for 3 cups of flour. You want to convert that to grams, so you decide to use king arthur’s ingredient weight chart, which tells you you should be using 3 x 120g = 360g flour. However, the actual recipe’s flour weight came out closer to the all recipes “cup” of flour, so you actually needed 3 x 136g = 408g flour. That’s a 48g difference in the amount of flour in the recipe, which may lead you to an underdeveloped, super spreadable dough! And the other way around, it may lead you with a tough dough, that turns out dense and stiff.
The other way around
Now let’s say you want to go the other way around. You may see my measurement for flour at 120g, and using the king arthur converter, that tells you that you need 1 cup of flour. However, if you measure your flour incorrectly, or if your measuring cup’s cup is larger or smaller, you may not end up with 120g of flour.
That’s what’s so great about using a kitchen scale – it takes the guessing out of it! I don’t know how that recipe online measured their flour, and if their measurements are turning out closer to 120g, or 140g. But, I know when I use a recipe already written in grams, that I am using the exact same amount of every ingredient that that recipe developer used.
Where can I get a kitchen scale? Seems expensive!
There are many kitchen scales around the internet that are very budget-friendly. When I first started out with a kitchen scale, I got this one off of amazon. It’s usually $15, but I have seen it on sale often for only $10 as well! Eventually I wanted a little bit of a ~fancier~ (if you will) kitchen scale, so I currently use this one from OXO. It is $50 but it has stuck by my side and helped me create many recipes so far. I highly recommend both of these scales and they have both served me very well in my baking journey.
That’s cool, but I think I will stick to cup measurements for now.
That’s perfectly fine and I completely understand! However, I do have some tips for you for measuring going forward. The most important thing that you can do when baking a recipe that uses cup measurements, is to measure correctly. Measuring your ingredients as I have listed below will help you with making sure your recipes come out consistent and as intended.
Use a fork or whisk to fluff up your flour in the container you have it stored in. Use a spoon to lightly transfer the flour to a measuring cup. When you have filled the cup, use the back of a knife to ‘level off’ the flour, scraping any of the excess off of the top.
Tightly pack down light brown sugar and dark brown sugar into the measuring cup. For granulated sugar, just scoop it directly into the cup
Use a liquid measuring cup! A lot of people use dry measuring cups for their liquids or use liquid measuring cups for their dry ingredients, which is not correct. Dry measuring cups are often smaller, and will not fit the proper amount of liquid that you need for the recipe. These are my favorite liquid measuring cups.
Thank you for reading through my little persuasive speech about using a kitchen scale. I truly believe that every person who enjoys baking should purchase one in order to yield consistent results when baking. I encourage you to buy one and get to baking, you will not be disappointed!
Source(s) for conversion: