Ask Essie: Weighty Matters? Win a Kitchen Scale!


JoAnne asks if it really is all that important to weigh flours rather than using a measuring cup.  After all, using a cup measure is pretty common and easy – why should I switch?

Really good question, JoAnne.  Glad you asked.

The biggest reason for switching?  Money. 

We spend a lot on gluten-free flours – more than 2x what regular flour costs.  If you substitute gluten-free flours for AP flour in converting a recipe the end result will not give you a satisfying result about 99% of the time.  And what happens to baked goods that fail?  Yep.  The old garbage heap.  It’s like taking money and tossing it into the garbage disposer.

Good Housekeeping and early catalogs (Sears) that made home economics a booming business at the turn of the last century were largely responsible for the systematic introduction of measuring cups.  Homemakers were beginning to take the task of following magazine recipes seriously.  In order for those recipes to have consistent outcomes, the Good Housekeeping Institute helped pave the way for the home invasion of measuring cups for both dry and liquid ingredients.

The previous reliance on using scales, or ratios that were handed down from each generation to the next were in large part becoming a thing of the past.  As ingredients were homogenized (one or two brands of AP flour), it began to get easier to get perfect results using these new home baking gadgets and methods.

But times have changed, again, and these days we use several types of flours, many from varying mills, and in the gluten-free world it is not uncommon to have five or more flours in the cupboard.  I have  17 different flours at this very moment in my cupboards.  And I use them all.

If you’ve spent any time with more than two types of flours, you already know they have different feels, properties and certainly different weights.  One cup of almond flour will weigh significantly less than one cup of potato starch.  One cup of white rice flour is heavier than one cup of brown rice flour.  Teff is very light and soft, but weighty.  You’d never suspect without that scale.

And there is less clean up.  If you invest in a simple digital scale that tares (which means it can zero out with stuff in the bowl) you can just keep adding everything to that one bowl.

I don’t waste flour anymore, either.  In the beginning of my baking gluten-free adventures, when I did a strict cup-to-cup conversion, I wasted a lot of flour on baking fails.  I learned the hard way to manage my food budget better with the help of a scale.

And just to show you how strongly I want you to start weighing your ingredients, I am going to give away a Salter Digital Scale – the same one I use.

How can you win this adorable little item that looks nice enough to keep out on the counter?

Share a story in the comments about what you will do with your old measuring cups now that you are going to use a scale.  Posting photos on the GF Canteen Facebook page absolutely helps, (along with “liking” the page).  If you tweet or post on FB about it, extra points!  Let us know that you did that.

Next weekend, Cap’t Awesome will pick the story that he thinks is the most awesome (humor and tweeting about it help- be sure to mention that you’ve done that) and we will announce the winner on both the GF Canteen Facebook page, Twitter (@GFCanteen)  and here.

Weighty matters, matter!  Really.

UPDATE April 2, 2011

Cap’t Awesome made his choice.  I knew we had a winner when he snorted a bit of coffee on the monitor.  Congratulations to Sarah Spears.  We fully expect those lyrics to become a hip-hop thingy in the near future!  Pretty funny.

Thank you all for commenting and don’t dismay if you didn’t win today.  We will have more giveaways soon!  Thanks, everyone.  Sarah – look for an email!

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9 responses to “Ask Essie: Weighty Matters? Win a Kitchen Scale!

  1. I don’t know that I am humorous, but I can totally see my measuring cups being offered up to science. The science of 6 year old boys who like to experiment both inside and out, with food and with earth. May still keep a few, because they come in handy for scooping things. Otherwise they will be become a donation to the wonderful world of little boys.

  2. Tweeting it and already shared on Facebook!

  3. heather abbott

    I would love to win the scale! I haven’t had much success baking gf and I never thought the problem might be my measuring cups. If I win the scale I would use my measuring cups for my other cooking needs, of course! Thanks for the opportunity!

  4. Have begun baking by weight and it really does make a difference, much more exact. Measuring cups still make great food photo props.

  5. Well, I can’t tweet or facebook, lol. Too busy with the little ones and living in the dark ages. You are the first I have heard mention weighing GF flours! It does make perfect sense though, the flours are so different. I don’t like some of the ones some recipes use, but swapping out one to one with flours I do like doesn’t always work because they are all so different! I only have 2 measuring cups – a half cup and a cup (they’re the pampered chef adjustable ones). If I retired them, I’d give them to the kids. A would use hers to make stew and soup and other creations out of all the little legos and blocks and anything else she can find in the playroom (besides you know the actual play food). We are working on what real recipes are like – she just wrote her first and it involved an egg, uncooked rice, and a chip. She couldn’t understand why we laughed so hard! T would immediately start driving his all over the house pretending it was a car (since he clearly doesn’t have enough cars and trucks already!). I know this, because one day many months ago I handed him one when I was cooking and he immediately starting “vrooming” it all over the kitchen. It was then that I knew girls and boys were indeed different! Even if I don’t win, I think I’ll be asking for one of those scales for Mother’s Day or my birthday. Weighing sounds so much more satisfying then measuring – as long as I don’t have to stand on the scale (that is the only drawback to good GF baking!). 🙂

  6. I’m more of a cook than a baker. I have a handful of tried and true baking recipes — but I lack the instinctive feel for baking as I have for cooking and I’ve been wondering if a scale would make a difference. Then I remember that I don’t have the patience to weigh letters and instead just tack on $$$ in stamps just in case, and I realize that even if had a scale I’d fail the scale and its sad unused face would haunt me. I hope that scale finds a worthy home!

    Love,
    Bell 🙂

  7. Hey Lisa –

    Just wanted to let you know how helpful this website has been. My mother has Celiac, and your recipes are great! When I “met” Lulu and Phoebe on Woof, I had no idea how lucky I was!

    -Beth

  8. Ah my measuring cups…I have so many thoughts on what they can be used for… perhaps a lovely arrangement of tiny potted herb plants, maybe I can use them to annoy my neighbors as I make horse noises with them on the walls of my apartment…I can clearly see the beauty of painting them bright colors, stringing them together, and making a delightful wind chime to hang on my patio. I could use them as a door stop…or maybe create a game…throw the ball and catch it in the measuring cup!!! I could melt them down and make a frisbee or keep my spare change in them. They might be cute as little plastic hats for the plethora of cats large and small who have taken over my parking lot… ooooh! do you think I could use them to dig a hole to China…my grandma always said that if I tried hard enough I just might make it there!

    Measuring cups, measuring cups, I know there’s a use for you yet….a home for my sea monkey pets? I could poke little holes in the bottom you know and then in the dark I could make a little light show! I could panhandle but they’re small so it would take quite a while… i could use them to paddle my boat…or bail out the water when it refuses to float! Measuring cups, measuring cups, what’s their use? I could make them a train and 1/8 cup the caboose. Measuring cups, i’ll find what you’re for, if it takes me until I’m one hundred and four. 🙂

  9. Gluten Free Canteen

    Congrats, Sarah. Cap’t Awesome picked you as the winner. Thank you everyone for participating and look for more giveaways coming soon. I love all your comments!

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