Friday, January 11, 2013

Baking Basics: Measuring Liquids Vs. Solids

So today is the beginning of a new segment for me.

Let's see...

We've had:

Fails - Infamous mishaps.

Food Reviews - Witty wisdom (criticism?).

Face Offs - Overzealous endeavors.

Your standard post with (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆) - The goods.

And now, drum roll please......dddddrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

Baking Basics!!  - The brains.

Kind of spoiled the surprise with the title there, though, huh?
That's okay, because I'm pretty excited.

Now, this, in no way, means that I think I know everything there is to know about baking and therefore am the single-most-credible source for all of your baking needs. In fact, if you want pure credibility for "measuring liquids and solids" here you go: Food Service Warehouse.

But there are no pictures.

Sometimes I have to see something in order to do it.  To have something broken down step-by-by. At the very helps.

So that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am starting this segment.

For you.

Because you can bake too.

Maybe you already know how to properly measure flour, but you've never been able to successfully caramelize sugar (trust me, it took me FOR-E-VER.  Tons of sugars and two torches later, I think I'm getting the hang of it).

All of this stuff and more is going to get covered right here.

And since a picture is worth a thousand words, we are both going to get a break from the overabundance of language normally present in my posts.

I have already compiled a lineup of things I would like to cover, but if you have any suggestions or questions feel free to send them my way via the comment section at the bottom of each post.

And so commences another N.A.I.B. Chapter.


How to Properly Measure Liquids and Solids

What you'll need:
  • Set of "dry" measuring cups (1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/4 cup)
  • Set of "wet/dry" measure spoons (1 tbsp, 1/2 tbsp, 1 tsp, 1/2 tsp, 1/4 tsp)
  • A "liquid" measuring cup (standard size measures up to 2 cups)
Tip: Because measuring often results in spills and messes, it is always prudent to measure over the sink,
       counter, etc.  Somewhere besides over the bowl you are using to mix ingredients.  Can't ever take
       back that Tbsp of Vanilla, that was supposed to be a tsp.

The Spoon and Level Method - Dry Ingredients (Large Amounts)

1) When measuring dry ingredients, especially "airy" ones, like flour and powdered sugar you want to 
     make sure not to pack them down.  This removes the air and disturbs the texture.  So you do not 
     want to just dig the cup into a bag and scoop up the amount you need. 

2) To properly measure, you want to scoop the ingredient spoonful, by spoonful, into the measuring

3) Keep piling the spoonfuls in, until a small mound begins to form over the top.  

4) With the flat edge of a knife, cut through the mound a few times to make sure that the entire cup is 
     full and there are no missing gaps. 

5) Then, with the same flat side of the knife, slide it across the mouth of the measuring cup.

6) Presto, chango you have properly measured your first dry ingredient.  Not too little, not too much, 
     just the perfect amount.  

The Spoon and Level Method - Dry Ingredients (Small Amounts)
1) The same concept applies here.  Albeit on a smaller scale.  We don't want to shove as much as we possibly can into the spoon.  We want to keep the texture of the ingredient.  If the ingredient is packed, i.e. baking soda/powder, scrape around to get enough loosened up before measuring. 

2)  Here because we can't "spoon" something into a spoon, we are just going to scoop up a heaping 

3) Tap the top of the spoon with the flat side of a knife.  Then slide across to create a level amount. 

4) Dry ingredient measuring? Done!  

Oh wait, there is one exception.  Brown Sugar.

The Brown Sugar Exception - Packing

1) Brown sugar is basically sugar with molasses, so I guess it's not really a 100% dry ingredient.  Hence 
    the measuring exception.  

2) Here you want to pack it all in.  Pat it down.  Stand on it.  Whatever you need to do.  Go ahead        
    and cram as much sugar as you can into that measuring cup or spoon.  

3) Stop adding when the sugar is level with the top. 

4) When you dump the sugar out, it should slide out in one firm clump.  The molasses makes it slightly 
     sticky, thus, it adheres to itself.  *Now there is even exceptions to exceptions.  This is the "general" 
     rule for brown sugar, however, there are recipes that specifically call for "unpacked" brown sugar.  
     In this case, you would measure the sugar the way you would any other dry ingredient, by spooning 
     and leveling. 

The Eye Level Method - Wet Ingredients (Large Amounts)

1) To measure liquids, you need a measuring cup specifically for liquids (pictured above).  Using the
    cups for dry ingredients will not produce the correct results.  This is for larger quantities.  Small
    quantities (i.e. tsp) can be measured in standard measuring spoons.

2) Basically, the correct measurement is the one you see at eye level.  Place the cup on a flat surface,
    bend down, and take the reading.  Add or subtract as needed.  (Picture above: At eye level, amount
    reads 1 Cup - correct)

3) Taking the reading from above or below eye level will give you an incorrect reading and you may be 
     adding too much or too little to your recipe.  (Picture above: Above eye level, that same amount is 
     reading as slightly more than 1 Cup - incorrect)

4) (Picture above - Below eye level, 1 Cup of water reads as slightly less - incorrect).

The Bulbous Method - Wet Ingredients (Small Amounts)

1) Unlike for larger measurements, measuring spoons can be used interchangeably between liquids and 

2) For small amounts, you want to measure until just before the "spilling point."  For fattier liquids there 
    might be a dome or "bulb" that remains intact just above the top of the spoon. 

3) For other liquids, trying keep this "bulb" of liquid will just result in spilling.  In either case, measure until at least level and add to the rest of your ingredients.  

And now you are an accomplished measurer!

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