The idea that one miss-scooped cup of flour will ruin a baking attempt is a scary one, and makes baking seem intimidating. Why deal with all that risk when a boxed mix is a sure bet?
One way to ensure correct proportions, especially in a new recipe, is to use a kitchen scale. Instead of measuring ingredients using cups and spoons, a kitchen scale gives accurate measurements in grams. This helps alleviate the question of how firmly packed the brown sugar should be, or if the cups of flour are sifted or not.
I have a traditional manual scale that I've been using for years, especially for my French baking and pastry recipes that are usually only written in grams. I was recently asked to step into the modern world and test the Smart Weigh 500 x 0.01g Digital Pro Pocket Scale.
What I love about using a digital scale like the Smart Weigh scale over my dear manual scale is the TARE function. Flashback to high school chemistry class - the TARE function lets you subtract the weight of your container. I used to weigh my bowl on the scale, then add the weight of ingredients for the recipe, for a close-enough weight. Now, I can use the TARE function to set the scale to start at zero with the bowl and then measure a precise ingredient weight. No more approximate rounding to the nearest big number on the scale face, now I have much more precise measurements.
When it comes to baking, I've heard it been compared to a science where every last gram will make or break the recipe. I disagree. But a scale can make the measuring much more accurate without the mess of sifting for an accurate cup.
I list my recipes in cups and spoons since that is what is in most American kitchens and what we grew up cooking with. For some recipes, for the French baking school crowd, I also include grams. Here are a few you might enjoy!
Do you weigh or measure your ingredients when baking? Have you noticed a difference between one method and the other?