21 August, 2008

Weights and measures

What can I say? In Europe, all cooks measure dry ingredients by weight, not volume (i.e. cups). And I live in France so I have been measuring my ingredients using metric units for over a decade. Hence all recipes here use European standards for measurement; weights are in grams or kilos, volumes are in litres, centilitres, or millilitres, and oven temperatures are in celsius.

To be honest, often exact measurements are not that important; I never weigh ingredients for a stew for example! The only time they are really important is in baking, and even since buying a set of cup measures, I have had endless problems trying to use recipes that measure butter, flour etc. in cups. So the first time I do one of these recipes, I weigh the results and convert the recipe to metric. For the record, one American cup measure equals 220 ml.

If you have arrived here from a place where measurements are done in cups, I urge you to buy a cheap set of scales; if you do a lot of baking, you will find them well worthwhile, as in my experience it makes it so much easier to achieve reliable, reproducible results. In the meantime, I can recommend Diana’s Desserts for a set of conversion tables for common ingredients; I still find it invaluable.

For oven temperatures, you can roughly double the Celsius number to arrive at the Fahrenheit equivalent; again, it is rarely critical. Or use this converter.

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A note on weights and measures

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