Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baking is Science, Science is Mathematics

Like many chemists, I liken baking to doing chemistry experiments. Of course, in chemistry experiments, you need to be more precise, which explains the use of specific measuring instruments, from beakers to measuring cylinders to pipettes or micro-pipettes, depending on accuracy. And for weighing, you have the measuring scale which can weigh up to 4 decimal places. To scale up or scale down the reaction, all you have to do is to multiply the amount of reagents by n times to suit your scale.

I usually like to scale down my baking quantity because my family doesn't like to eat my bakes, so I have to keep in mind that I may have to polish off everything on my own. The problem with scaling down is that I can't get an accurate measurement of the ingredients. I only own a diet scale, which is impossible to weigh out 7 g of sugar or 3 g of instant yeast. My measuring cup doesn't have markings to tell me where is 5 ml or even 10 ml. Sometimes I do wish I have those lab equipment to help me with the measurements, LOL.

Another thing which I find really frustrating is the use of volume for dry ingredients, which is common for recipes originating from the US. In this part of the world, we are more familiar with weighing out ingredients instead, so usually I will google for an equivalent weight. And to make matters more complicated, different types of flour have different densities, which means different weight for the same volume of flour. So before every new project, I have to do some simple math to simplify the measurements.

To make things easier for me, I shall compile all relevant information here so that I do not have to google every time I start on a new recipe.

U.S. Volume Equivalents:
1/4 teaspoon = 1.23 ml
1/2 teaspoon = 2.5 ml
1 teaspoon = 4.9 ml
1 Tablespoon= 3 teaspoons = 15 ml
1/8 cup = 2 tablespoons = 1 ounce = 30 ml
1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons = 2 ounces = 60 ml
1/2 cup = 8 tablespoons = 4 ounces = 120 ml
1 cup = 16 tablespoons = 8 ounces = 240 ml
2 cups = 32 tablespoons = 1 pint = 16 ounces = 480 ml

U.S. Weight Equivalents:
1/2 ounce = 14 grams
1 ounce = 29 grams
2 ounces = 57 grams
4 ounces = 113 grams
8 ounces = 227 grams
16 ounces = 1 pound = 454 grams

Ingredients Weight Metric Conversions:
Sugar:
Granulated and Superfine White Sugar: 1 cup = 200 g, 1 teaspoon = 4 g, 1 tablespoon = 12 g
Light Brown Sugar (packed): 1 cup = 218 g
Dark Brown Sugar (packed): 1 cup = 238 g
Confectioners or Icing Sugar: 1 cup = 115 g
Flour:
All-Purpose Flour: 1 cup = 140 g, 1 cup sifted = 115 g
Cake Flour: 1 cup = 130 g, 1 cup sifted = 100 g
Whole Wheat Flour: 1 cup = 150 g, 1 cup sifted = 130 g
Bread Flour: 1 cup = 160 g, 1 cup sifted = 130 g
Egg (large):
In Shell = 57 grams
Without Shell = 50 grams
White Only = 30 grams
Yolk Only = 18 grams
Butter: 1 cup = 226 g, 1 stick = 113 g, 1 tablespoon = 14 g
Salt: 1 teaspoon = 6 g
Baking Powder: 1 teaspoon = 5 g
Instant Yeast: 1 teaspoon = 4 g
Cocoa Powder: 1 cup = 112 g, 1 tablespoon = 7 g
Corn Flour: 1 tablespoon = 7 g
Gelatin Powder: 1 tablespoon = 9 g
Honey: 1 tablespoon = 21 g

Online Conversion Tool
Source1, Source2

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