Measurments

Rev 1.13, last revised:  13-Nov-06

One of the most hotly debated and argued over elements of baking on our favorite baking newsgroups, is the basis for measurement.  The weighing camp says:  "Only by weighing, can you make proper bread!"  The volumetric camp says: "Only by volume, can you make proper bread!"

Let me clear the air:  Both are right!  Both are wrong!  Either method will work.  Yeah...that's clear...NOT!  How can this be?

Using the volumetric method, you're subject to variations from "packing" and uneven measurements.  Using the weight method, you're subject to variations in moisture, density, granularity, and the increments caused by the resolutions of the scale being used.  Both will yield equivalent--but different--errors.

The bothersome part is that some bakers (usually the advanced amateurs and/or "professional" wanna be's) will try to tell you that in their oh so expert opinion, only weighing will suffice.  When you ask them, "Why?"  They'll tell you, "Because that's what the professionals do!"  And they would be right.  And, since they want to either be or be taken as "serious, professional" bakers, they'll insist that you can't do squat unless you measure by weight.  And that is where they're wrong! 

True "Professional" bakers, measure by weight for reasons of scaling--not convenience or accuracy.  Today they make 84 loaves of bread, tomorrow they might need 227 loaves.  Only by using weight can such a change in scale be made easily.  Imagine trying to make your favorite, "1-1/4 cups water, 3-1/2 cups flour, 2-1/4 tsp. salt, ..." bread, for 227 loaves.  That'd be pretty hard to figure out.  And that's why the pro's measure by weight.  Although I'm only an amatuer, I do own and use several scales.  But most of my friends and family don't have them, and they want to bake too.  So my recipes are geared towards a simpler way of doing things.

The pro wanna be's use it in order to elevate their status and efforts above yours as being more "professional", refined, serious, or better at it than you.  It's nothing more than a bakers version of "weenie wagging"--where their way or gadget has to be bigger, better, faster, or in some other way more advantageous than yours.  It's primary purpose is to be a barrier to entry (into the "serious" baking fraternity), with the added benefit of making you feel (if you don't have a scale) that you're a bit out of the loop.  Tain't so!  So don't let some weight Nazi try to buffalo you into that.  Weight.  Volume.  In the end, it's just bread.

Now, that having been said, I don't begrudge those that design their recipes by weight.  They may have gotten them that way; or they may have worked them out that way (which--I'll be the first to admit--is easier than doing it by volume); or they may well be one of those of us amateurs that deal in varying quantities (as I'm beginning to do).  So don't think I'm denigrating those that measure by weight.  I'm not!  Only those that cluelessly insist that only weighing can be used!

In addition, I'm a metrics fan.  It's the only rational way to measure things.  Something that the "English" system that we use will never be able to get close to.  But, in the USofA, most folks are sadly still non-metric, and most cooks and bakers still use volumetric measurements.  It's the method of choice.  Since my recipes are posted for my family and friends--mostly "over here", I convert my recipes to use the volumetric approach.  If that doesn't suit you, tough!  You can convert 'em back yourself.

Relative Measurement Info:

Here are some general tips and other miscellaneous info.

1 oz = ~ 28 gm

1 oz = 2 Tbsp

1 oz = 6 tsp

8 oz = 1 cup

ONE CUP OF

ENGLISH

METRIC

CUP

All-purpose flour

4-1/4 ounces

121 grams

30 grams

Bread flour

4-1/2 ounces

130 grams

33 grams

Whole wheat flour

4-2/3 ounces

140 grams

35 grams

Sugar or salt, granulated or superfine

7 ounces

200 grams

50 grams

Salt conversions

1 TBSP = 15.75 gm
1 tsp = 5.25 gm
3/4 tsp = 4.43 gm
1/2 tsp = 2.6 gm
1/4 tsp = 1.8 gm
1/8 tsp = .9 gm

Shamelessly borrowed from Mike Avery's excellent sourdough pages