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!