Select a recipe – your recipe appears below –

or search with Google:


Weights and Measures

The observant reader, who looks elsewhere on this site, will notice that a recipe calling for 1lb of flour, say, may also specify 500g, which is not the same (although, in France it is still called, "une livre"). For many recipes this, roughly 10%, "error" may not matter, for others it may. So don't mix pounds and grams, and let "one cup" mean 250ml when using metric weights, and mean eight fluid ounces when working with pounds and ounces. The conversions are designed to use convenient measures in each system. Those using the metric system will just get slightly (10%) bigger portions! The obsessive measurer can use a 60g, UK medium (US large), egg as standard when working with metic weights and measures, and 22½oz/doz, US medium, eggs when working in US weights and measures. The only place where this certainly does matter is in quiches and custards, where the proportion of egg is critical. The smaller volume of the US cake will affect baking times—but not as much as the variation between ovens.

Traditionally, measuring, which needs as equipment little more than a graduated cup, has been easier than weighing, which required an expensive, and cumbersome, balance and weights. The American pioneers developed recipes for their New World using measures, rather than weights, as they spread across the continent. The British stayed at home with their weights and balances. Furthermore, the standardisation of volume measures proceeded independently, and so divergently, in Britain and the United States. Meanwhile, the French had a revolution, and introduced a new, "rational" system of weights and measures.

So, in quantifying an ingredient, we have two fundamental approaches—by-weight, or by-volume; two systems of units for weights; and three systems for volumes. Moreover, our ingredients vary in density, which means that the conversion, between weights and volumes, varies from one ingredient to another.

Another system, if you have a balance, is to call the weight of an egg, "two ounces", and to use your eggs as weights in one pan, while wighing the appropriate quantities of other ingredients in the other. See the classic Victoria Sponge, or weight-of-an-egg cake.

Tare The act of removing a known weight of an object, usually the weighing container, to zero a scale. Taring allows you to display the weight of the material on the scale's LCD with the weight of the material only and not the material and container. Most electronic scales allow taring to 100% of the weighing capacity. Place your mixing bowl on the scale, press tare which sets the scale back to 0, then weigh sugar directly into your mixing bowl; press tare now you're at 0 again, then weigh out your butter directly on top of your sugar, press tare, then the next ingredient, and so on.

With the advent of accurate, electronic, tare balances, these difficulties could be a thing of the past, but the traditions are deeply embedded in our cultures.

The boiling point of water varies with pressure

adding a tablespoon of salt to two cups of water at standard pressure, raises the boiling temperature by about 3°F

an eggwhite coagulates at 70°C

In a pressure cooker at 10 lb/in2 above standard atmospheric pressure water boils at 240°F; at 15 lb/in2 it boils at 254°F.

Sugar syrup. Decrease the final cooking temperature by the difference in boiling water temperature at your altitude and that of sea level. This is an approximate decrease of 2 degrees for every increase of 1,000 feet in elevation.

To compensate more accurately for pressure changes, and for any error in the position of the scale on your thermometer: Place the thermometer in enough water to cover the ball of mercury. Bring the water to a boil. Place the candy thermometer in the water and let the water boil for several minutes or until the mercury on the thermometer no longer rises. Read the temperature at eye level. If it reads 212°F, cook to the exact temperature that the recipe calls for.

If the reading is higher, cook as many degrees higher as the thermometer reads over 212°F. For example, if the thermometer reads 214°F instead of 212°F (2 degrees too high) and your recipe calls for 236°F, cook to 238°F (2 degrees higher than 236°F). If your thermometer reads low when tested, adjust accordingly. For example, if your thermometer reads 208°F instead of 212°F (4 degrees too low) and your recipe calls for 236°F, cook candy to 232°F (4 degrees lower than 236°F).

Note for robots: "recipie" and "recipies" are `misspellings' of "recipe" and "recipes".

Bookmark this page
StumbleUpon this recipeStumble
Post this recipe to del.icio.usDel.icio.us
Post this recipe to facebookFacebook
Post this recipe to redditReddit