Punchinello’s Chronicles

December 5, 2008

Better Baking with a Digital Scale

Filed under: Food & Recipes,Tips — Punchinello @ 2:37 am
Tags: , , , ,

You probably know that kitchen scales are readily available. You’ve probably seen them around, some for less than $20. And there are scales that work on springs, or those that are digital. But you’ve probably said, “Why bother? I don’t need a scale. I’ve measured with my spoons and cups for years.”

Okay, but here’s the problem. Flour is very fine, dusty kinda stuff. It comes in different grinds, some finer and some more coarse. A bag sits around for who-knows-how-long, and the flour settles. Then it comes time to measure out a half a cup of flour for some recipe. What happens?

In most recipes you’re supposed to sift the flour before putting it into the bowl. That’s to at least attempt to loosen it up so it’s vaguely like what the original recipe calls for. Suppose you don’t sift it well, or you sift it and the cookies don’t turn out as expected? If you don’t sift it, the flour may be more compacted.

Try measuring out 1/2 cup of flour and without sifting it, put it in a bowl. Now take that same flour, sift it into another bowl. Then spoon it back into your measuring cup. You’ll be amazed at how much “extra” flour you suddenly have! Sometimes as much as a quarter cup! All from just sifting!

There’s only one way to guarantee that your cookies, cakes, pies, and everything else will turn out exactly the same, time after time. That’s to use a kitchen scale. It should have a “resolution” down to 1/4 ounce or 1 gram. They’re pretty inexpensive especially since you don’t really need anything more than a capacity for 5lbs. or less.

You’ll want it digital because it’s simply amazing how much difference 5 grams of flour will make. It’s just more elegant and convenient if you can increase or decrease the flour by a single gram. And come on, they cost only about $30!

I happen to like chocolate-chip cookies, and I like them with a particular amount of crunch on the outer edge, getting softer as you move in toward the center of each cookie. For years and years, I just couldn’t get those cookies right. I’d make two or three batches, because by the third batch it finally worked.

Then I got a scale. Now I have exactly the cookies I want, perfect, every single time. So do yourself a favor: get a frickin’ scale! You’ll be glad you did!

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