Baking can be such a relaxing and enjoyable pastime for home cooks, only if your bakes are successful. The thing about baking is that it needs accurate measurement of ingredients; otherwise, you will find that things just don’t work out as they should! For example, your cake might be flat, too dense, or too moist. All sorts of things can go wrong when the ingredients are just slightly out.
So, this is where knowing how to use kitchen scales comes into its own! Once you have mastered how to use a mechanical scale or a digital scale, your bakes should become just a case of following the recipe and turning out wonderful cakes and bread, time after time.
The good news is that you will be able to use a kitchen scale effectively every time with a few simple steps. Ensure you have the correct equipment and a good set of scales available, and you are ready to get started!
Why Use Kitchen Scales?
For some readers, kitchen scales might be a fixture of our kitchen, but on the other hand, many other bakers are familiar with using measuring cups for weight measurements. If your recipe shows the ingredients in cups, there are many conversion charts that you can follow to make sure that you measure out just the right weight in flour or sugar in grams or ounces, if you prefer.
The issue with using dry measuring cups is that they are not as accurate as kitchen scale measurements, and when a recipe calls for a precise reading, it really is best to use scales to achieve that.
You can fill a measuring cup differently each time, dry ingredients can be packed down or left loose or take up different amounts of space, or not be levelled out in line with the top of the cup, so it is very difficult to get one cup to be the exact same measurement each time. Think about the difference in measuring out a cup of chocolate chips versus flour; they take up very different amounts of space and are not going to measure the same as each other.
Weighing ingredients out will help you with portion sizes and helps you keep tabs on the nutritional information of a recipe if you follow it to the letter.
Using a digital scale means using just the right amount of food you need for a recipe and preventing you from wasting ingredients. Additionally, suppose you end up with a disastrous bake after not following a recipe correctly and adding too little or too much flour or sugar; the chances are that it will go in the bin rather than into the stomachs of your expectant friends or family.
Saving on the Washing Up
Using measuring cups also means more washing up, which, let’s face it, none of us wants! There’s always plenty to be done after a baking session as it is; why add measuring cups into the mix?
The Different Types of Kitchen Scales
There are a couple of main differences between digital kitchen scales and mechanical scales, which we have set out below:
The main difference between digital kitchen scales and mechanical food scales is that digital ones require batteries or sometimes a power source for them to work.
Digital scales will allow you to toggle between settings using the tare button to select whether you want to work in grams using the metric system or in ounces. They also have easy to read displays and produce a very accurate reading.
Given their accuracy, digital kitchen scales are also more suitable than mechanical scales for measuring fluid ounces, as it can be difficult to get exact measurements of liquids.
One benefit of mechanical scales is that you will never get caught out, realising that the battery has run out in your digital scale just as you are about to start baking!
The different units of measurement are shown on the one display on the device, and it is easy to re-calibrate if it loses accuracy over time.
If you are thinking about buying a food scale, there are a few things to consider to make sure that you get the right one for you:
Make sure that the maximum weight that the scale can measure is in line with what you need. If you plan to cook to scale, you will need a high maximum weight capacity when purchasing a kitchen scale.
Display Size and Measurement Options
You want to be sure that the display on your scale is large enough to see clearly and has all of the options you require.
Look for a kitchen scale that includes a mixing bowl, measuring cup, or measuring spoons: you will have all the equipment you need to measure ingredients accurately when cooking.
However, one thing to be aware of is that you can purchase a kitchen scale with a bowl attached. If you do buy one of these, you will be limited to the volume of ingredients that the bowl can hold. If you do not want the size of the bowl you use to be set, it would be worth selecting a standalone kitchen scale, and you can choose the size of the bowl you weigh ingredients in.
Using Your Digital Kitchen Scales
We hope that we have convinced you that using a food scale is much easier and more accurate than measuring cups. Other than the scale itself, you don’t need any more equipment than you would if you were using measuring cups.
Below are some useful items that will help you be ready for whatever ingredients or measurements a recipe calls for:
- A mixing bowl
- Measuring spoons
- A wooden or metal mixing spoon
You can use a plastic or glass bowl for measuring out and mixing ingredients; it makes little difference and is down to personal preference.
You may need more than one mixing bowl if you need to weigh out dry ingredients in one, such as baking powder, cake flour or other flour, and wet ingredients in another before combining them together in the same bowl.
The following steps are for using a digital kitchen scale for baking:
Step 1: Power Up
Make sure that your digital scales have a working battery or are connected to a power source, and then press the on or power switch to turn them on.
Step 2: Select the Unit of Measurement
Use the unit button to toggle through the options until the display shows the unit of measurement you wish to work in. Recipes use different measures, so it is useful to be able to swap between them at the press of a button!
Step 3: Place the Bowl on the Scales
As touched on above, it doesn’t really matter whether you use a glass or plastic bowl to measure out your ingredients. Place it on the digital kitchen scale and reset the reading to zero using the tare button. Using one bowl for all of your measurements will mean less washing up at the end!
Step 4: Start Measuring Out Your Ingredients
Take your first ingredient and carefully add it to the bowl using a spoon until you reach the required weight.
You can continue to add the next ingredient and total up the weight, but it is easier to set the scale back to zero each time you move on to another ingredient. Each time you add your wet or dry ingredients, allow the food scale a second or two to stabilise until it displays a steady reading.
Now you have all of the food ready, and you can start cooking. Just take the ingredients from the bowl, mix and bake in the oven!
Make the Most of Your Scales
Food scales allow you to measure ingredients accurately every time. It also means you use fewer dishes when cooking as you can set it back to zero each time you need to measure a new ingredient, so you don’t have to use new bowls each time. It is also more accurate for measuring fluid ounces than trying to use cups.
Using a digital scale is as simple as switching it on, setting it to weigh the ingredients in grams or ounces and then measuring out the flour or any other food for the recipe you are cooking.
A mechanical kitchen scale is much the same, although you don’t need to switch it on. You may also find that you can’t measure things to the same accuracy level, but this might be fine if you do more generalised cooking rather than baking when the exact measurement of flour is essential.
Create Perfect Bakes Every Time
If you are convinced by the benefits but want to know how to use kitchen scales, then we hope we have provided you with plenty of useful information and tips.
Well, we can’t promise that you will create perfect baked goods every time by weighing out your ingredients using a digital kitchen scale, but it will certainly help! Cooking can be a real pleasure, but it can also be incredibly frustrating to know that you have spent time and effort on something, just for it not to work out very well. Knowing that the weight is correct for the ingredients is one less thing to worry about.
Good luck producing the perfect dish using a digital scale to ensure that all your recipes are made to exact measurements.
Do you own a digital scale or a mechanical one? Let us know below!
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Tom is a former chef turned full-time food blogger. He has always been passionate about food, and loves nothing more than experimenting in the kitchen and sharing his recipes with others. Tom’s blog is one of the most popular food blogs on the internet, and he has won numerous awards for his cooking. When he’s not blogging or cooking, Tom enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.