OXO February Challenge: Better Baking with a Scale
But what about tools that change our habits big time, like a food scale? Some people may be used to relying on measuring cups and spoons, but we recommend giving it a shot. Nowadays, recipe writers are increasingly listing weights (ounces or grams) alongside cups and tablespoons. This makes cooking with a food scale easier than ever before — and more necessary. It’s become a trusted tool in our kitchen because it helps make things better in almost every way.
Instead of dirtying a handful of cups and spoons to portion out several ingredients, a scale allows for ingredients to be measured directly into a mixing bowl. Better, right?
Plus, from an accuracy standpoint there’s nothing more precise than using a scale. When baking, this sort of attention to detail is a necessity. Depending on how tightly it is packed, one cup of flour can easily range in weight from 4 to 7 ounces. That sort of difference means even the most careful technique could yield almost double the amount of flour intended! With a scale, 5 ounces will always be 5 ounces.
Stumped on how to get started? Begin with your mixing bowl on the scale, then zero out the scale by hitting the “tare” button. Add your first ingredient slowly until you reach the weight needed. Then, zero out again and add the second ingredient and so on.
Good Tip: When scooping in ingredients like flour or sugar, use a spoon to add the last bit of weight and allow maximum precision. This can also help prevent accidentally adding too much weight when pouring.
Many home cooks rely on a food scale for portioning too. It’s a great tool for health conscious cooking, but also for ensuring even distribution of batter between cake pans, keeping challah knots the same size, or making equally sized balls of pizza dough. To guarantee both accurate measure and easy readability, OXO designed its scales with a pull out display made to accommodate large bowls. Read more about the inspiration and design here.
Now that you’ve read all about how to use a food scale, let’s put those new skills to work. We’ve adapted a yellow cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which works well to make a 9×13 inch single layer cake or about 2 dozen cupcakes when using the Silicone Baking Cups.
Classic Yellow Cake
Smitten Kitchen’s Best Birthday Cake
500 grams cake flour
10 grams baking powder
10 grams baking soda
5 grams table salt
2 sticks or 225 grams softened unsalted butter
400 grams sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk (475 ml)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Place a medium bowl atop the food scale and zero it out by pressing the “tare” button. Slowly add flour into the bowl, using a spoon to add the last bit until the scale registers the correct weight (500 grams). Zero out the scale and continue the process with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. Using a large bowl: measure out the sugar using the food scale, add the butter and beat until the mixture is fluffy. Mix in vanilla and add eggs one at a time, making sure each addition is well incorporated. Stir in the buttermilk. Working in a few batches, add the flour mixture slowly until it is combined.
4. Spread batter evenly in a 9×13 cake pan. Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes. To be sure, insert a cake tester in the center. If it comes out clean, the cake is finished. Let cool completely and top with your favorite frosting. (We’re a fan of the Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting!)