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Measuring in OUR kitchen

I am a fiend for using measuring cups and spoons. (T is not. His idea of a teaspoon is any spoon he might use to stir tea and a cup is any cup he might use for coffee... however, for the recipes on this site, I have tried to pin him down about amounts for any of the recipes he has created....) This is the system of measuring I use:

abbreviations used . temperature conversion formula . a few equivalents and common ingredients . yeast conversions . flour weight equivalents . bread making notes

Measuring Abbreviations

tsp   = teaspoon    = 5 ml
Tbsp  = tablespoon  = 15 ml
c     = cup         = 250 ml
lb    = pound       
kg    = kilogram
gm    = gram
l     = litre
ml    = millilitre
oz    = ounce
fl.oz = fluid ounce
qt    = Imperial quart
pt    = Imperial pint

abbreviations used . temperature conversion formula . a few equivalents and common ingredients . yeast conversions . flour weight equivalents . bread making notes

A Few Equivalents and Approximations

(go directly to common ingredients)

1 pt = 2½c
1 l = 4 c = approx 1 US or Imperial qt
Note that an Imperial quart holds more than a US quart:
1 Imp qt = 1.137 liter
1 US qt = 0.95 liter
1 lb = 453.6 gm = 16 oz = 2 c
1 tsp holds 5 ml
1 Tbsp holds 15 ml = 3 tsp
¼ c holds 60 ml = 4 Tbsp
½ c holds 120 ml (this is the measuring cup I use for scooping out flour)
1 c holds 250 ml (Does this make sense?? No. But that's what it says on the measuring cup I use and this is the measuring cup I use to measure liquids...)

There is a possibly annoying mix of metric and non metric measures in the recipes on this site. I grew up in a non-metric world but Canada officially changed over to metric many years ago. However, we all use a bizarre mix of systems; our height and weight is usually measured in feet and pounds except on our drivers' licences. Butter is still sold by the pound but milk is sold by the litre. Depending on the store, cheese is sold by the kilo or by the pound. Outdoor air temperature is measured in Celcius but oven temperatures are measured in Fahrenheit. You get the picture....

Because of the confusion of amounts in US quarts and Imperial quarts, I try not to use pints or quarts in any of the recipes and have converted most liquid volumes to metric. I also do not call for fluid ounces for the same reason. If our neighbour to the south would join the rest of the world and officially embrace the metric system, this confusion could be reduced enormously - sooner rather than later. Metric usage and metrication in other countries

Common Ingredients

Unless otherwise specified:

butter is unsalted or sweet butter. (1 lb butter = 2 c)
cream is 10% butterfat (half and half)
milk is 2% butterfat
milk powder is skim or 1% butterfat
eggs are large eggs
olive oil is extra virgin olive oil
flour is unbleached all-purpose wheat flour
sugar is fine white sugar
brown sugar is demerara sugar (not unsimilar to Moscovado sugar)
salt is either kosher or fine seasalt. Both of those are a little more coarsely ground than table salt. Use scant measures of salt if you substitute with table salt. 1 tsp table salt = 6 gm OR 5gm - depending on which online calculator you choose
yeast is active dry yeast (please see this handy javascript for conversion from fresh/compressed to active dry yeast)
water is regular old tap water

Gourmet Sleuth: Conversion & Ingredient Tables . Traditional Oven: Conversion of measures of ingredients calculator
metric weight equivalents for flour and water . Bread Making Notes

abbreviations used . temperature conversion formula . a few equivalents and common ingredients . yeast conversions . flour weight equivalents . bread making notes

Temperature Conversion Formula

Here is a handy little formula for converting temperatures in your head:

From Celcius to Fahrenheit: example for converting 232C to F:
     232 x  2 = 464
     464 - 46.4 = 417.6
     418 + 32 = 450

     232C = 450F
And to go from Fahrenheit to Celcius: example for converting 450F to C:
     450 - 32 = 418
     418 + 45.98 = 463.98
     464 ÷ 2 = 232

     450F = 232C

Pretty cool, eh?

And yes, I agree that 11% can be a little tricky for head arithmetic. But using the 11% is necessary for converting the higher temperatures (like oven temperatures) for maximum accuracy. And head calculation is great when one's hands are covered in dough. I bet there's nothing worse than trying to get dough off of the electronic calculator.

Multiplying by 11, the number is stacked on top of itself but skewed to the left. Only the inside numbers have to be added. (Yes, yes, if there are too many numbers, then one starts to lose track if one's head is sievelike as mine is.... To find 11%, add 1% of the number to 10% of the number.)

Here is an example for finding 11% of 418:

    + 41.8 

For lower temperatures like outdoor air temperatures, adding 10% and then rounding up to the nearest whole number works fine but as you can see, the error might become a bit wide for the higher temperatures used in cooking:

     450 - 32 = 418 (10% of 418 = 41.8)
     418 + 42 = 450
     450 ÷ 2 = 225

     450F ≠ 225C

Granted, there's not that much difference between 225C and 232C, but if you're going to bother to do the conversion, it might as well be as close as possible....

abbreviations used . temperature conversion formula . a few equivalents and common ingredients . yeast conversions . flour weight equivalents . bread making notes

Flour & Water Weight equivalents

According to the bags of flour I use:

½ c wholewheat flour = 62gm
(on my scale: 55-60gms using 'fluff-spoon-level' OR 70gm using 'fluff-scoop-level' methods of putting wholewheat flour in the cup)
½ c unbleached allpurpose flour = 66 gm
(on my scale: 70gm using 'fluff-spoon-level' OR 80gm using 'fluff-scoop-level' methods of putting unbleached allpurpose flour in the cup)
½ c rye flour = 85 gm
(on my scale: 58gms using 'fluff-scoop-level' method of putting rye flour in the cup)
½ c water = 118 ml(gm)

I invariably use a halfcup measure to get the flour out of the bag. The wholewheat flour I use is 14% protein and the allpurpose flour is 11.52% protein. The dark rye flour has no indication other than the note that it is 100% dark rye flour; I have no idea about the percentage of protein....

Here are two charts with weight equivalents for many ingredients:

Generally, when measuring with cups, I use the 'fluff-scoop-level' methods of putting flour in cup: I use the cup measure to fluff up the flour, then I scoop up the fluffed flour and level it off with the flat of my finger. Yes, it's true - not very accurate... I know I may appear to be a bit casual about measuring. (The labour intensive 'fluff-spoon-level' method is to fluff up the flour with a spoon, carefully spoon the fluffed flour into the cup, level it off with a knife.)

All this talk of measuring accurately makes me think of my younger sister's grade 10 home-economics teacher, who chanted over and over, "Girls, there will be no guesswork in our kitchen!" (This was also the woman who told the class that it was not a 'potato' peeler but a 'vegetable' peeler. We tried to get my sister in trouble by encouraging her to suggest to the teacher that it be called a 'produce' peeler because one peels apples with it and apples aren't vegetables... heh heh, I STILL call it a 'produce peeler'.)

When measuring flour for bread dough, it all comes down to learning how the dough should feel. Bread recipes all call for "more or less flour (and/or water) depending on the day". We can carefully measure everything til we're blue in the face and then suddenly at the end of the recipe, it all comes down to knowing how the dough should feel and deciding to add a little more water or flour. How is this done? Practice. I'm still practicing... but I'm getting closer! - sometimes measuring by weight, sometimes measuring by volume, sometimes measuring by guessing (oh, horrors!).

I have always been a reactionary, but after reading article after article and book after book, even _I_ am becoming more inclined to use my rather inexpensive (and probably somewhat inaccurate) non-electronic scale rather than scooping with the cup measures. And my sister's home economics teacher would be pleased to hear that I hardly ever guess. August 2010: Since writing the above, I have now switched to alternating between using cups and a shiny digital scale that was given to me in 2008. One of the things I really like about using the scale is that I can use whatever I want to scoop the flour out. It's so freeing not to have to rummage through the drawer or dish rack to find the cup measures.

equipment . flour weight equivalents . measuring abbreviations and conversions . quickbread techniques . yeastbread techniques . storage . flatbread techniques . recipes . resources

Bread recipes:

Flatbread: Chapatis (tortillas) . Focaccia . Naan . Pita . Pizza dough
Gluten Free: Rice Flour
Quickbread, Biscuits and Muffins: Buttermilk Biscuits . Cheese Baking Powder Biscuits . Cornmeal Muffins (or Bread) . Popovers (Yorkshire Pudding) . Date Bread . Orange Date Muffins (or Bread) . Scones
Yeast Bread: Babas au Rhum . Cheesehorns . Cider Cheese . Corn . Focaccia . French Stick . Hot Cross Buns . Italian Country . Lucia Cats . Molasses Fennel . Multigrain . Naan . Pita . Pizza Dough . Poppy Seed . Raisin . Rice Flour (Gluten Free) . Rustic Boule . Rustic Couronne . Rustic French . Sandwich Bread or Hamburger Buns . Savarin Dough . Whole Wheat

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ejm (aka llizard) 2001, 2002, 2007, 2010
Toronto Ontario Canada

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