Why Kitchen Scales Matter for Baking
If you're into baking things like candy, fruit-based foods like preserves and brownies, (or you live outside of the US where they rightfully ditched the volumetric measuring system) you'll find that there's really nothing like a kitchen scale to measure your food as accurately as possible by weight, known as scaling. In fact, measuring solids by volume is a bad habit that our non-American friends never really got into. It all started when Fannie Farmer introduced a cookbook in 1896 called The Boston-Cooking School Cookbook that introduced the method of measuring everything by standardized measuring spoons and cups. This was a huge improvement at a time when recipes called for a sufficient amount of salt and a teacup of water.
The benefits of measuring baking ingredients by weightCan you imagine baking like that today? Baking starts to get a whole lot more accurate when you measure stuff by weight instead of volume because ingredients contain different amounts of water and air depending on several factors. For example, flour varies by a significant amount of volume depending on the time of year it was harvested, the part of the world it was harvested in, whether it's hard red spring or soft red winter wheat (or a blend of the two), how it was milled, how much rain fell and hot hot it was that year, etc. Measuring two cups of flour from opposite ends of the world comes up with two extremely small differences. Not so with measuring by weight.
Professional bake shops weigh almost everything and use the baker's percentage system where a recipe is actually called a formula. The differences in measuring by volume aren't very big when you're measuring things in Tablespoons and cups in your home kitchen. It's in commercial baking applications where you measure things in larger quantities that these small differences turn into large differences that can ruin large amounts of food and thus waste time and money. I experienced this first-hand when I moved from my own kitchen to a commercial kitchen when I ran Enchanted Oven Baking Co. I increased my batch size from 20 to 400 cookie batches, still measuring by volume and it was a disaster.
But what's so bad about measuring by volume?Volumetric measuring in the US is here to stay. This is because in home kitchens, measuring by weight is often not needed due to the small amounts of ingredients used. This is unless you need to measure things like hard chocolate for ganache, apples for a strudel or other fruit for preserves. Measuring by volume has the advantage of being extremely convenient; just scoop up the desired measuring cup or measuring spoon with the desired size and you're all set. But as soon as you'd like to scale that recipe up to a larger serving, relying on measuring by volume will be a huge risk. This is where you'll need the accuracy that measuring by weight offers.
Having a kitchen scale in your home kitchen isn't absolutely required if you follow recipes and bake in small batches. However, if you like to scale up your recipes to larger batches, and utilize the accuracy that measuring by weight has to offer, it can help you take your baking to the next level.
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