The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I'm converting!

clazar123's picture

I'm converting!

This year I will convert my recipes to weight.

 My holiday baking experience convinced me after needing to make about 8 batches of Floyd's Lazy Man's Brioche and 12 batches of french bread using a weighed recipe and having every batch turn out perfectly proportioned. It was so much easier having a mise en place and knowing it would turn out. I actually bagged up all the dry ingredients in ziplocs for all the french bread and did bakes over several days.Made a preferment every night,woke up and grabbed several bags and made the loafs for the day.What a pace!

So my resolution is short and simple.  But not so simple when I started actually doing it. I discovered that even carefully measuring by cups and weighing I can have significantly different weights. So do I scoop up a cup 5 times and average the weights for grams? And then try out the final recipe?

Who's done this before and can offer some guidance on the easiest way to accomplish the task? I have LOTS of recipes.

silkenpaw's picture

...when it comes to weight, so I would weigh out 10 cups of flour and then divide that by 10 to get the weight of 1 cup. For other things, I think you could just use a conversion table, like the one here:

AnnaInMD's picture

this is a great chart !

Chuck's picture

After I do the math to "convert" a recipe that works for me from volume measures to weight measures, I use a small mark to tell myself "not done yet". Then when I actually bake that recipe, if it turns out right I remove the mark, but if it's not yet quite right I note the adjusted weights to use for the next bake. 

(What I find much harder is "converting" volume-only recipes that I've never done yet that I've picked up from various recipe books and websites, because I have to use their 'cup' rather than my 'cup'. Sometimes the front or back of the recipe book will contain a hint as to how they measure "a cup of flour"  ...which helps a lot. It can still be a pain though, and I haven't yet found a solution I find fully satisfactory. The best I've found so far is to write the trial converted weights right on the recipe [in the book or on the printout], so I at least don't goof up in the same way twice.)

Chuck's picture

I have LOTS of recipes.

My inner computer nerd prompts: once you come up with conversions that seem to work for you (some combination of averaged measurements and tables as above), use a spreadsheet (for example Excel) to make your computer do most of the work.

It can be really simple: column B for old volumes, column C for new weights, and lots of rows each for an ingredient-measure (for example "cups of flour" or "tablespoons of oil") with the ingredient-measure titles down column A for your convenience. Column B are just default field types too. Column C does the calculation with a formula something like "=!B1*foo" (where "foo" is the conversion number that works for you for that particular row).

Make the spreadsheet a little fancier (or if you're not up for it yourself, trade a computer nerd some sticky buns for their better spreadsheet), and you can directly "print" each "converted" recipe on a page of paper. Such a spreadsheet might have a row for each common ingredient in bread recipes, and separate columns for each measurement (cups, third cups, quarter cups, tablespoons, teaspoons, half teaspoons, etc.) and finally one more column for the newly calculated weight.

clazar123's picture

What you suggest is actually on the agenda and is a great idea.I may need to pick your brain in the future! The spreadsheet will be needed when I figure out what needs to go into it.

I'm not quite ready to start making entries, though.I am on the very first steps of the hands on stage. I just started doing this with my first recipe this weekend and discovered that even when measuring "my" cups, I am inconsistent. So before I can extrapolate out, I need to figure out what number consistently works.

I may need to set up my kitchen for an experiment.I think silkenpaw is right in that the flour is the most variable. Measure out  a cup of each flour  ( I have about a dozen different types) a number of times and average it to determine a value for a formula in the spreadsheet.( It will be interesting to see if I am close to King Arthur's list). Then do the same with sugar,etc.  I already know that different measuring cup sets and different measuring spoon sets measure differently so I will have to use the same sets for the experiment. Once I get an average, I should be able to  "plug and chug".

Then I have to bake the item using the formulas and see how it comes out! This won't be done in a weekend!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

For years I've kept a 3x5 card with cups and weights when I had to measure and convert to weight. It starts with flour, butter, sugar etc. and I keep it in my cookbook as a bookmarker and use it everytime I hit a new recipe.  I write my conversions down in the cookbook.  Ev. all my favorite recipes are converted.