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Basics of Cake Making – Formulas and Measurements
FORMULAS AND MEASUREMENT
Bakers generally talk about formulas rather than recipes. If it looks more like a chemistry lab than a food production facility to you, there’s a good reason for that. Bakeshop is very much like a chemistry lab, both in the scientific precision of the procedures and the complex reactions that occur during mixing and baking.
Ingredients are almost always weighed at the bakery, not measured by volume, because measuring by weight is more accurate. Accuracy of measurement, as we have said, is essential in the bakery. Unlike home baking recipes, a professional baker’s recipe doesn’t call for, say, 6 cups of flour.
To show yourself the importance of measuring by weight rather than by volume, measure a cup of flour in two ways:
(a) Sift some flour and add it lightly to the dry measure. Level the top and weigh the flour.
(b) Pour some unsifted flour into the same measure and pack it lightly. Level up
on and weigh the flour. Notice the difference. No wonder home recipes can be so controversial!
The baker’s term for weighing ingredients is descaler.
The following ingredients, and only these ingredients, may sometimes be measured by volume in the ratio of 1 pint to the pound or 1 liter to the kilogram:
o water o milk o eggs
A volume meter is often used to determine water scale in small or medium-sized batches of bread. The results are generally good. However, if accuracy is critical, it is better to consider. This is because a pint of water actually weighs a little more than half a pound, or roughly 16.7 ounces. (This number depends on the water temperature.)
For convenience, liquid measuring cups are often used in the preparation of products other than baked goods such as sauces, syrups, puddings, and custards.
Units of measurement
The measurement system used in the United States is very complicated. Even those who have used this system all their lives sometimes have trouble remembering things like how many fluid ounces are in a quart and how many feet are in a mile.
The United States is the only major country that uses the complex measurement system just described. Other countries use a much simpler system called the metric system.
Abbreviations for US units of measurement used
fluid ounce (fl oz)
In the measurement system, there is one basic unit for each type of measurement:
Gram is the basic unit of weight.
A liter is the basic unit of volume.
A meter is the basic unit of length.
Celsius is the basic unit of temperature.
Larger or smaller units are obtained simply by multiplying or dividing by 10, 100,
1000 and so on. These divisions are expressed by prefixes. The ones you need
kilo = 1000
deci- = 1D10 or 0.1
cent- = 1D100 or 0.01
milli- = 1D1000 or 0.001
Formulas and measurement
Abbreviation for unit of measure
weight gram g
volume liter L
length meter m
temperature in Celsius °C
Divisions and Multiples
Prefix/example Meaning Abbreviation
kilo – 1000 k
kilogram 1000 grams kg
deci- 1D10 d
deciliter 0.1 liter dL
cents- 1D100 c
centimeter 0.01 meter cm
milli- 1D1000 m
millimeter 0.001 meter mm
Convert to metric
Most people think that the metric system is much harder to learn than it really is. This is because they think of metric units in US units. They read that there are 28.35 grams in an ounce and are immediately convinced that they will never learn metrics. Don’t worry about converting US units to metric units and vice versa. This is a very important point to remember, especially if you think the metric system might be difficult to learn. The reason for this is simple. You usually work on one system or the other. You will rarely, if ever, need to convert from one system to another. (The exception might be if you have equipment based on one system and want to use a formula written in another.) Today, many people own imported cars and repair them with metric tools without worrying about how many millimeters are in an inch. Similarly, if and when American bakeries and kitchens switch to metric, American cooks and bakers will use scales in grams and kilograms, volumetric measures in liters and deciliters, and thermometers that measure in degrees Celsius. formulas that show these units. They don’t have to worry about how many grams are in an ounce. To get used to working in units of measurement, it is useful to know how big the units are. The following approximations can be used to visualize the units of measurement. These are not exact conversion factors.
A kilogram is just over 2 pounds.
One gram is about 1D30 ounces. Half a teaspoon of flour weighs a little less than a
A liter is slightly more than a quart.
A deciliter is slightly less than half a cup.
A centiliter is about 2 teaspoons.
A meter is a little more than 3 feet.
A centimeter is about 3D8 inches.
0°C is the freezing point of water (32°F).
100°C is the boiling point of water (212°F).
A rise or fall of 1 degree Celsius equals about 2
Metric formulas and recipes
American industry will probably one day adopt the metric system. Many recipe writers are already looking to get a head start and are printing metric equivalents. As a result, you will see recipes that call for 454g of flour, 28.35g of butter or a baking temperature of 191°C. No wonder people fear the metric system! Kitchens in metric countries do not work with the impractical numbers we normally use such as 1 pound 11 D4 ounces of flour, 2.19 ounces of butter, or a cooking temperature of 348°F. This would defeat the whole purpose of the metric system, which is to be simple and practical. If you have a chance to look at any French cookbook, you’ll see nice round numbers like 1kg, 200g and 4dL.
The metrics in the formulas in this book are NOT equivalent to the US metrics listed next to them. You should think of the metric portion of the formulas as separate formulas with returns close to, but not the same as, US formula returns. . To give exact matches would require the use of awkward, impractical numbers. If you have metric units, use metric units, and if you have US units, use US units. You should rarely have to worry about converting between the two. For the most part, the total yields of the metric formulas in this book are close to those of the US formulas while maintaining the proportions of the ingredients. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to keep the proportions exactly the same because the US system is not decimal based like the metric system. In some cases, metric quantities will give slightly different results due to the change in proportions, but these differences are usually extremely small.
The principle of using a baker’s scale is simple: The scale must be balanced before setting the weights and again after weighing. The following procedure applies to the most commonly used type of baker’s scale.
1. Place a scale scoop or other container on the left side of the scale.
2. Balance the weight by placing the counterweights on the right side
and/or by adjusting the ounce weight on the horizontal bar.
3. Set the scale to the desired weight by placing the weights on the right side
and/or by moving an ounce of weight.
For example, to determine a weight of 1 lb. 8 oz., place a 1 lb. weight on the right side and
move the ounce scale to the right 8 ounces. If the weight of an ounce is already over 8 ounces, so
that you can’t move it another 8, add 2 pounds to the right side of the scale and subtract 8
ounces by shifting the ounce weight 8 places to the left. The result is still 1 lb 8 oz.
4. Add to the left edge until the scale balances.
MEASUREMENT BY WEIGHT
A good balance scale should be accurate to 0.25 oz (1 D4 oz), or 5 g if it’s metric. Dry ingredients weighing less than 1 D4 oz can be scaled by physically dividing larger quantities into equal parts. For example, 1D16 to the ounce scale
(0.06 oz.), first weigh 1D4 oz., then divide it into four equal piles with a small knife.
For delicate pastry work, a small battery-powered digital scale is often more useful than a large balance scale. A good digital scale is relatively inexpensive. It can instantly measure quantities to the nearest 1 D8 oz or 2 g. Most digital scales have a zero or tare button that sets the displayed weight to zero. For example, you can set the container on the scale, set the scale to zero, add the desired amount of the first ingredient, set the scale to zero again, add the second ingredient, and so on. This speeds up, for example, the weighing of dry substances to be screened together. But remember that careful weighing in a good scale is more accurate.
British bakers have a handy method of measuring baking powder when small quantities are required. They use a mixture called scone flour. To make a pound of scone flour, combine 15 ounces of flour and 1 ounce of baking powder; sieve three times in total. One ounce (1D16 lb) of scone flour therefore contains 1D16 (0.06 oz) of baking powder. For every 1 D16 ounce of baking powder called for in the mixture, replace 1 ounce of flour with the flour called for in the formula. For ease of formula conversion and calculation, fractions of an ounce that appear in the formula ingredient tables in this book are written as decimals. So 2oz of 11D is 1.5oz and 1oz of D4 is 0.25oz.
Bakers use a simple but versatile system of percentages to express their formulas. Baker’s percentages express the amount of each ingredient used as a percentage of the amount of flour used. In other words, the percentage of each ingredient is its total weight divided by the weight of the flour, multiplied by 100%, or:
100% = % of ingredient
So the flour is always 100%. If two types of flour are used, their total is 100%. Any ingredients that weigh the same amount as the flour used are also given as 100%. The cake ingredients listed on page 11 illustrate how these percentages are used. Check the numbers with the equation above to make sure you understand them. Keep in mind that these numbers do not refer to the percentage of the total harvest. They are simply a way of expressing the proportions of ingredients. The total return on these percentage numbers is always greater than 100%. The advantages of using baker’s percentages are that the formula is easily adaptable for any yield, and individual ingredients can be changed and other ingredients added without changing the overall formula. For example, you can add raisins to a muffin mix formula while maintaining the percentages of all other ingredients. It is clear that the percentage system based on the weight of flour can only be used when flour is the main ingredient, for example in breads, cakes and biscuits. However, this principle can also be used in other formulas by selecting the main ingredient and setting it to be 100%. In this book, if 100% is based on an ingredient other than flour.
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