Jan 11, 2011

Meet the Crew! Episode# 1: Measuring Tools for Baking

Hi! I'm starting a new series on my blog called "Meet the Crew!" It's where I'll be introducing you to all the bakeware, baking tools and appliances that I use, and that will feature regularly in my recipes. So when I say 'cup' or 'teaspoon' or whatever, you'll know what I'm talking about.

This is also the place where I'll be bragging if and when (hopefully), I'll get any new additions to my collection! As of now, most of what I have is my inheritance from my wonderful mother. I cannot thank her enough!

I've decided to start off with my Measuring Tools today, since these are possibly the most important part of precise and perfect baking.

The Crew: Measuring Cups, Measuring Spoons, Kitchen Scale

Measuring Cups - Dry Ingredients

These are basically a standard measure for flour, sugar, cocoa, cornflour and other such baking ingredients. You need to scoop in the dry ingredient into the cup (to form a heap), and then level off the excess with a ruler, large knife, spatula or any other thin, flat instrument you can find around your kitchen.

Dry Measuring Cups

The cups I use come in four different measurements: 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup. So it makes it easy to do the math according to what's required in a recipe.

These cups come in different shapes and designs. Mine are from my mother and pretty old, but there's some very nice looking cups that are available. Here are some nice ones I found on Amazon:


Measuring Spoons - Liquid & Dry Ingredients

These work pretty much the same way as the dry measuring cups do, but you can also use them to measure liquids. Just need to fill the liquid to the brim, there's not much danger of spilling since it's a small quantity. Mostly used for baking powder, soda, salt and vanilla or other essences.

As you can see in the picture, I have the spoons attached to the other end of the cups. The measures I have are 1 Tbsp, 1 Tsp, 1/2 Tsp and 1/4 Tsp.

Spoons are available individually as well. Here's some pretty ones you can check out. The fourth one is neat, just one spoon and you can slide across for different measures!


And some Measuring cup and spoon sets!


Measuring Cups - Liquid Ingredients

So you can't use the other kind of cups for measuring liquids for obvious reasons. They would spill! It's difficult to move around a cup of liquid filled to the brim.

So for liquids, you have calibrated cups that are easy to handle, and it's also easy to pour the liquid out. Mine has measures in cups as well as in volume (ml and oz).

Liquid Measuring Cup

These cups can be used to measure dry ingredients as well. And they often are. It's just that leveling off would be difficult. And hence it's kinda difficult to maintain precision. So, it's basically personal choice.

If you are looking to purchase one, keep your requirements in mind. The maximum quantity may vary from 1 cup to 2 to 4 cups. So depends on how much you will be baking.

Here are some for your browsing pleasure!


Kitchen Scale

This one is a really useful thing to have around. Not just for baking, but other kitchen requirements too. You can measure your baking ingredients, obviously, but its also nice to measure out cookie dough to make sure each cookie is exactly the same size. Same goes for other Indian desserts.

There's a lot of  use you can get out of the good 'ol kitchen scale! Again, mine's really old, and hence analog. If you're planning to purchase, digital might work out much better for you since it's more precise. Sometimes you might want to halve a recipe that say, calls for 3/4 cup of cocoa; a digital scale is like a blessing then!


The Multi-Purpose Cup!

Even with a kitchen scale handy, I am sometimes too lazy to get it out and go through the weighing process. So I got this nice cup with metric weight measures marked on it.

Multi-Purpose Cup
It keeps in mind the densities of different materials so it has calibrated measures for dry ingredients like all-purpose flour, rice flour, chick pea flour and sugar. And over at the back it has a calibration for liquid measures as well.

I picked this up from a local wholesale baking store, here in Hyderabad. It's not of a very good quality, but it serves it's purpose well!

Important! When picking out baking tools, you need to keep in mind the different systems of measurement followed in different parts of the world. So when you see 'cup', it might refer to a metric cup or a U.S. customary cup depending on where the recipe is coming from. You need to make sure that all the measuring tools you purchase are following the same system.

This post has gone on to be quite long! :D

In the not-so-distant future, I will be doing an article on measuring units and conversions for baking ingredients, to make it simple. I'm in the process of researching and learning, myself! So once I'm sure of what I'm talking about, I'll put that up here. Stay tuned!

As always, your feedback and comments are highly appreciated!

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