One of the most overlooked tools in the kitchen is the humble scale. The fact is many people have kitchen scales that are collecting dust in the back reaches of the cupboard somewhere. This article is about how your kitchen scale can become your friend while you create in the kitchen.
One of the keys to great consistency in recipes is measuring ingredients by weight, rather than volume. The reason for this is simple, when you scoop flour each person has a different technique. Each cup of flour will weigh just a little bit different from person to person and from scoop to scoop. Once you start doubling and tripling recipes the errors will compound themselves. Too much flour and your cakes and cookies may be too tough. Or your liquid measure could be off not getting enough liquid into the dish to do a proper mix.
Once you have converted a recipe over to weight it is also much faster to make a recipe. Plus you may only need one bowl to measure everything so less dirty dishes. And who doesn’t love less dirty dishes?
One thing that you’re looking for in a scale is the ability to zero the reading. If you’re using a digital scale this button is often labeled “Tare”. You can weigh one ingredient, zero the reading and weigh the next ingredient right on top of the next one. You can quickly put together a recipe much faster than using measuring cups and spoons.
I use a very basic scale at home but it works great. It’s also switchable between pounds and grams. Amazon has these for around $20 Weighmax Electronic Kitchen Scale
Also if you want to make multiple batches of a recipe then it’s much easier to double the weight of everything and still have the end product turn out.
To show you what I mean take a look at my recipe for white bread. The Start of Baking: White Bread
If you want to double that recipe you will need 12 cups of flour on top of all of the other ingredients. When I bake this recipe I usually make a double batch as the bread goes fast.
Here is a double batch of my white bread using weight measurements rather than volume.
By the way I’ve modified the recipe slightly to use some whole wheat flour. You can use 100% all purpose flour as well.
- 2 pound 6.4 ounces All purpose flour
- 1 pound 5.6 ounces whole wheat flour
- 1.7 ounces of sea salt ( you can use other salt just don’t use iodized salt )
- 1.3 ounces of dried active yeast ( I use Red Star active dry yeast )
- 1 pound 13.2 ounces water
- Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F
- In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast
- Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam (proofing is letting the yeast grow to see if it is still alive)
- Mix salt and oil into the yeast
- Mix in flour one cup at a time
- Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth
- Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat
- Cover with a damp cloth
- Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour (Mine took a bit longer than this, your kitchen’s temperature has a lot to do with how long this step takes)
- Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9×5 inch loaf pans.
- Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
- With a very sharp knife or razor put a few slashes on top of the loaf to help with expansion
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown
Turn bread out onto cooling racks and cool for a little bit until you cut into it.
When I make this recipe I use my large mixer and a dough hook instead of kneading it by hand. I run the mixer on low for a few minutes to mix the ingredients and then run it on medium speed for around 5 minutes to knead it all together.
Also using weight for sauces also makes a lot of sense. If you take a look at my Japanese Ginger Dressing Recipe it is by weight. Japanese Ginger Dressing
The original recipe was one that I converted from a friend of mine’s restaurant. His measurements makes approximately 10 gallons of dressing. Way too much dressing for most households but it was easy enough to cut the recipe down because all of the ingredients were weighed. By figuring out how much I wanted to make I was able to keep the proper proportions in my finished recipe.
The question is how do you convert a recipe that you have over from volume to weight measurements?
If you have a recipe that you love making and want to convert it to weight here is the best way that I’ve found.
- Grab a bowl and your kitchen scale.
- Put the bowl on the scale and zero the reading.
- Make your recipe as you would normally do but after each ingredient copy down the weight for that ingredient, zero the scale and move on to your next ingredient.
- Once you have all of the weight measurements down you can now easily double, triple, etc… your recipe
This works great particularly during the holidays when you’re making large batches of food. Doing large batches of cookies is much more fun and goes faster when you use your kitchen scale.
I hope that I’ve convinced you to give that dusty scale another look. Once you start working in weight measurements you’ll never want to go back.
One last recipe. The One Billionth Zucchini Bread Recipe
When I make this recipe I make 6 loaves at a time. It just doesn’t pay to make a few loaves because I use it for gifts, I freeze some for later, and it makes a great breakfast or brunch meal.
Zucchini Bread by weight (Makes 6 loaves)
- 2 pounds 10.3 ounces of all purpose flour
- .7 ounces salt
- 1.4 ounces baking soda
- 1.2 ounces baking powder
- 1 ounce ground cinnamon
- 2.9 ounces Red Mill Egg Replacer
- 1.06 pounds water
- 15 ounces vegetable oil
- 2 pounds 13.9 ounces granulated sugar
- 2 ounces vanilla extract
- 2 pounds 4.6 ounces grated zucchini
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
- Grease and flour six 8 x 4 inch pans. ( I like to use parchment paper for this. )
- Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
Beat egg replacer, water, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture
- Beat well
- Stir in zucchini until well combined
- Pour batter into prepared pans
- Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean
- Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes
Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.