Not All Measuring Equipment is Equal
Not all measuring equipment is equal. When a cup is not a cup, or a tablespoon a tablespoon, or teaspoon a teaspoon…well, this is something that many of you who have been to Pie Camp® will recall me talking about before we start to measure out the flour, salt, fat, and water to make our pie dough. I have a number of different sets of measuring spoons and cups, and no two brands measure exactly the same. It’s a sad and frustrating fact, but there you have it.
So, yesterday when I saw that my friend Zanne Early Stewart had posted this picture on Facebook from a September 1999 issue of the late and great Gourmet Magazine, where she had been an editor, I was just about jumping up and down because it is such a wonderful visual of what I have found to be true.
Now, you may say, “Kate, get a grip and just weigh out everything on a scale.” And yes, as I create and write recipes, I do that. But, even the scales can weigh a little wonky. I have eight scales for teaching; four of one brand, and four of another, and even two of the same brand can sometimes weigh different amounts. As another baking friend of mine, Jeanne Sauvage, says “Gah!”
So what do we do?
Here are some ideas:
- If you have both kinds of measuring equipment–scale, and measuring cups and spoons–test the amount in the recipe you are making for the first time with both.
- Double check that your scale batteries are fresh.
- If you have room and your budget allows, get two scales so you can compare accuracy.
- If the recipe is written in both volume and weight (grams are most accurate), measure out first using a cup, and then see how it weighs up on your scale in grams. Is it the same as what the recipe calls for?
- If the amount that shows up on the scale is way off from what the recipe writer has given, zero the scale out and re-weigh it, or if you have that second scale, pull it out and use it.
- If both scales are way off from what is specified, than you may have some very different results.
- And always try a recipe once as written. Here’s a favorite post from some years back on that little subject. 😉
I learned to cook and bake without measuring equipment and I never ever thought that I would become such a strong advocate for metric.
Yes, I still make my grandmother’s pies the way she taught me–with a coffee cup and spoon from the cutlery drawer–but, as a recipe developer, I see how important accuracy is, and scales and metric are the way to go. FYI, I have both kinds of measurements (volume and weight) in the books I write.
Ok, that’s my public service moment for today.
P.S. I still mourn the passing of Gourmet. You too?