My mother has never baked with a scale, and consequently, neither did I… until a few years ago. Our preferred baking method was always to throw ingredients in until it looked about right. It worked, but mainly because we baked the same recipes over and over again, so we knew what was right for each recipe. This method sadly does not translate to new recipes. If you’ve never made something before, how do you know what it’s supposed to look like?
So why bake with a scale?
The general argument for weighing ingredients as you cook is that you can be incredibly precise. According to a study done by Cook’s Illustrated, the weight of a cup of flour can vary by up to 20% depending on how you scoop the flour into the measuring cup. That’s like one person baking a recipe with 1 cup of flour, while someone else bakes the same recipe with almost 1 1/4 cups of flour. While that doesn’t sound like a big difference on paper, when baking, that can make or break a recipe.
No, really, why bake with a scale?
Honestly? I bake with a scale because it lets me leave the cup measurers in the drawer so there’s less dishes to wash when I’m done my baking project. Yeah, yeah, it’s nice to be precise, but less dirty dishes tops my list of priorities these days.
How do I bake with a scale?
Put your mixing bowl on your kitchen scale. Press the “tare” button, which will subtract the weight of the bowl, resetting the scale to zero. Add your first ingredient until you hit the appropriate weight. If you press “tare” before adding each new ingredient, you will start from zero every time and have no additional math do to in your head as you bake. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I have to admit that I struggled with the best way to weigh my ingredients before I figured out the magic of the “tare” button.
Which scale should I buy?
There are lots of review websites out there that have tested kitchen scales and offer recommendations. The Sweethome recommends the Escali Primo Digital Scale, with the Ozeri Pronto Scale as their budget pick. Cook’s Illustrated recommends the OXO Good Grips scale as their top choice, with the Ozeri Pronto as their budget pick as well. Reviewed.com offers the My Weigh KD-8000 as their top contender.
Read these reviews, then decide which scale will work best for you. Take into account the size of the scale (are you storing it on the counter or in a drawer?), weight of the scale, and how easy it is to use. If you’re just starting a journey into using weights while cooking, less buttons are probably better. Keep it simple.
What should I bake first?
King Arthur Flour, one of my go-to websites for baking recipes and ideas, lets you view recipes by volume, ounces, or grams. Try throwing together some Chocolate Breakfast Muffins or this Lemon Bliss Bundt Cake. Smitten Kitchen, another one of my favorites, also offers recipes written in volume and weight. I’ve been eyeing this Rhubarb Upside-Down Spice Cake and this Strawberry Graham Icebox Cake as my next baking projects.
I hope you enjoy the precision of baking with weights… and, of course, less time cleaning up!