Why is it better to weigh your measurements than use cups and spoons?
This is a question I often get asked, particularly when people are not used to using a scale (or if they ask for a cup/spoon conversion of my simple sourdough recipe).
Here are the benefits of weighing sourdough ingredients rather than measuring by volume.
Cups/Spoons Are Not Universal Measures
Cups and spoons vary around the world. A cup and teaspoon in Australia for example is different to a cup and teaspoon in the US.
Cups measure by volume – this means that the cup of flour I measure will be different to the cup of flour you measure. Why? Because your cup may be bigger or smaller than mine. You might not level it off at the same spot. Your flour will be different to mine. You might also not pack it as tightly as I do. There are just too many variables.
Grams are a universal measure. A gram of flour in Australia will be the same as a gram of flour in the US.
I did a little experiment using two different one cup measures. I wanted to find out exactly how accurate cups are. The results might actually surprise you!
The photo above shows the amount of flour and water held in each cup in grams. There’s a noticeable difference between them all. That could definitely cause issues when making sourdough – too much water or too much flour will have detrimental effects to the dough and change the desired outcomes.
You can see the blue and grey cups in the photo. Just by looking at them, you can see that they are different sizes, even though they are both marked as being “1 CUP” and 250mls!
First I measured water (as well as against a liquid jug) and then I measured flour.
You can see from these results that the cups are very different. Imagine if you were using the blue cup, while I had written my recipe using the grey cup. Can you see how inconsistent that would be?
Benefits of Weighing Sourdough Ingredients
Here is a list of benefits to using a scale when preparing your sourdough bread, rather than volume measures like cups and spoons.
- You can dump all your ingredients in one bowl, without having lots of cups and spoons to wash up afterwards. It’s much quicker to throw your ingredients in a bowl, as oppose to having to add them to a cup, level them off and then place them in a bowl. Not to mention having to wash out your cups if you’re using them for multiple ingredients.
- It’s the same every single time.
- It makes scaling a recipe up or down super easy. You cannot do this accurately with cups and spoons. Baker’s Math makes it simple to increase a recipe by 10%, 30% etc. It would be too difficult and inaccurate to do this using cups and spoons.
- Did I mention, it’s the same every time – meaning you achieve consistent results? And at the end of the day, we all want consistently good sourdough, right?
- You can also use a scale to weigh dough when shaping. This is handy if you are making sourdough bread rolls or dividing larger batches of dough into smaller loaves. You weigh the dough so each portion is exactly the same. This means that bread rolls all cook evenly and look uniform.
Best Weighing Scales for Sourdough Baking
If you are looking to invest in a good set of scales for your sourdough baking endeavours, these are the two that I would recommend.
OXO Good Grips Pull Out Display Scale – this scale features accurate 1g increments and has a handy pull out display meaning you can see it, even with a large bowl sitting on the scales.
Baker’s Math Kitchen Scale – This heavy duty digital scale allows you to calculate baker’s math percentages while weighing your ingredients. It has a huge 8000g capacity – perfect if you’re baking a big batch!