In 2008, I completed a Culinary Pastry Arts program here in Austin, TX. I learned a lot about baking breads, cakes, pies, custards, pastries, etc. And while expensive, the education was invaluable. My absolute, number one, best "take away" was learning to bake by weight, rather than using cups, tsp., TBSP., etc. There are so many reasons I prefer this method and why I encourage other bakers to do the same...
BAKING BY WEIGHT VS. TRADITIONAL MEASURING
- Less Clean Up - when you bake by weight, you don't have numerous measuring cups, spoons, and bowls to clean. The ingredients go from their original container directly into the bowl you need them in.
- More Accurate - This is true especially for ingredients like, flour, brown sugar, shortening, peanut butter, etc. If you reach your measuring cup into a container of flour, rather than scooping the flour into your measuring cup, you are going to have significantly different amounts of flour. With weight, there is no room for error. Also... how many times have you been making something that called for several cups of flour and found yourself saying "Wait... was that 3 cups or 4?" With weight, there isn't the incessant scooping, leveling, and counting of cups.
- It's Easier to Increase or Decrease a Recipe - When a recipe calls for 2-2/3 cups flour, and you want to divide that recipe in half.... well now you have a problem and will most likely do some "guessing". It's a lot easier to divide or multiply your quantities when they are in lbs., oz, or grams.
- Consistency - When you measure your ingredients by weight, there is no room for subjectivity. 7.5 oz is always 7.5 oz. No matter how you get that ingredient into the bowl!
- More Even Division of Cake Layers, Pie Crust dough, Rolls, etc. - If you make a recipe using weight, you can add up the total weight of all the ingredients and therefore, know exactly how much batter or dough you have. If you have a total of 2 lbs - 8 oz of cake batter, and you want to bake three cake layers, you simply divide the total number of ounces (in this case - 40 ounces) by three. You would need roughly 13.3 oz in each cake pan to have nice, even layers of cake.
- It's Faster! - eliminating the "middle man" of the measuring cup allows you to put together a recipe much faster... and the clean up is faster too! I also find that it is much easier to remember a recipe by weight than cups.
WHAT YOU NEED
When choosing a scale, look for one that goes up to at least 10 or 11 lbs. As you continually add ingredients, plus the weight of the bowl, some recipes can get pretty hefty! Also, make sure it can measure pounds and ounces as well as grams. Having the option of 2 decimal places is also nice. I use an Escali scale.... it has worked for quite some time and I have not had any problems with it. The batteries last a really, really long time as well!
So don't be afraid to give it a whirl! Once you make the adjustment, you'll be hooked... I promise:)
Happy baking and decorating!