Photo by Donna
Scale (noun): A good digital scale is an important kitchen tool because it provides the most accurate way of measuring ingredients, which is especially critical in baking. A tablespoon of different brands of salt have different weights but an ounce of salt will have the same impact no matter the type or brand. Flour and other finely powdered ingredients measured by the dry cup can vary in weight as well. A scale is recommended for any serious kitchen.
Scale (verb): To scale means to weigh—for example, “Scale that dough into 10 ounce portions for small baguettes.”
This scale is one of the most important tools in my kitchen. It not only ensures constency, it makes putting together ingredients simple. You know how much easier it is to measure 8 ounces of shortening as compared to one cup? Here, I'm measuring ingredients for bread dough that I've been making a lot of recently. If I were making cookies, I could put the shortening or butter right in there with the flour. I was corresponding recently with a cook who weighed a cup of his flour and it was 3 ounces. A cup of flour can weigh as much as 6 ounces. If he measured four cups and I measured four cups, I'd have twice as much flour in my bowl.
But I don't know how much a part a scale is of the home kitchen. Many of the people who read this blog are serious home cooks. I'm working on a book now that relies a lot on the weight of ingredients, and I'm very curious to know what people who care about cooking think about scales. Do you own one? Why or why not. Do you use it? If so how? If not why not? I suspect a lot of it is because almost all the cookbooks out there use volume measurements so you don't need one. Here's the scale I use. But there are lots to choose from and start at about $25. Key attributes are digital, measures in grams and ounces, and can measure at least 5 pounds or so.