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Bread bakers: do you weigh your ingredients?

kimeats Apr 21, 2008 06:05 AM

I weigh all my ingredients, including the wet ingredients.
Had a friend that was telling me you should only weigh the dry ingredients and do the wet ingredients (water etc) by volume in a beaker.

What is your take on it?

  1. greedygirl Apr 21, 2008 06:39 AM

    I weigh the flour, use a measuring spoon for yeast/salt etc and a measuring jug for the water. All were provided with my breadmaker. Never had a duff loaf yet.

    1. eliah Apr 21, 2008 07:22 AM

      I can't think of any reason not to do liquids by weight, assuming you know the weight of the liquids. I always do water by weight (and have recently been adding beer as well) with no problems. But I'm not the most experienced bread baker in the world.

      1. n
        Nettie Apr 21, 2008 08:10 AM

        I think the reason to weigh dry ingredients is that their volume can vary quite a bit, as you can tell when trying to get a level cup of flour--you could probably fill a one cup measure and then pack in 1/2 cup more flour pretty easily. If I'm remembering my chemistry correctly (and it wasn't my best subject to begin with) the volume of water is pretty constant. So volume is a much more reliable measurement for water than for dry ingredients. But if it's easy for you to weigh the water, you're not going to be hurting anything.

        1. breadandcoffee Apr 21, 2008 08:54 AM


          Took a bread making class. We weighted the flour and also took it's temperture. The temperture determined the temperture of the water. The flour weight varies depending on how dry the flour is.

          For the yeast, used a teaspoon since we were using dry yeast granules. We used measuring cup for wet ingredients.

          1. chowser Apr 21, 2008 09:32 AM

            I don't think it matters whether you weigh or measure liquids since it's consistent, as Nettie says (try to make 8 oz of water more or less in a cup like you can with flour). But, overall, I go for feel because on some days, I need to add more flour when I'm kneading--the weather is so variable with humidity and I think that makes the difference.

            1. Leucadian Apr 21, 2008 09:57 AM

              I read the other day that a baker's formula is the ratios of the ingredients (baker's percentages), and a recipe is the actual amount of each component for a given batch. In general what matters for the home baker is the ratio, since who cares if a loaf is a little bigger or smaller than intended? Unfortunately we're given recipes with different measurements systems (volume, weight, imperial, metric) and we never get a good feel for the ratios unless we do the conversions ourselves. I say weigh everything, and record your numbers so you can duplicate your results or avoid a mistake next time.

              If you've got the scale out already for weighing the flour, use it to weigh the water as well. The reason is that it's more accurate than trying to determine levels in a graduated measuring cup. ( I make my recipes up based on hydration levels, so 64% of 400g is 256g, not an easy thing to measure except by weight.) Of course, adjustments will have to be made depending on the dryness of the flour, but I like to have the ingredients measured as accurately as I can before I start adding more flour or water to get the right feel.

              My bottom line is to get used to baking by baker's percentages and weigh everything, but don't get obsessive about precision.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Leucadian
                paulj Apr 21, 2008 10:15 AM

                If your scale has a 'zero' feature (common on modern digital ones), it is easy add the water by weight. The version of the no-knead bread that I use calls for 468 gm flour, 354 gm of water. With a scale those numbers are no problem, though I don't worry about a 5gm difference.


                1. re: paulj
                  kimeats Apr 21, 2008 10:22 AM

                  Thats exactly what i do, zero it out and add the ingredients. thanks

              2. j
                jtpeters Apr 21, 2008 10:27 AM

                "A pint's a pound the world around." For fresh water anyway. I tend to use a starter instead of dry yeast, so I include it with the liquids.
                Kosher salt is less dense than table salt I believe, but I still measure by volume.
                I only weigh the flour.

                4 Replies
                1. re: jtpeters
                  bakergal Apr 21, 2008 11:59 AM

                  I think you'll find that an American pint is 16 fl oz, whilst a British pint is 20 fl oz.

                  1. re: bakergal
                    Ruth Lafler Apr 21, 2008 12:05 PM

                    Yup. That stupid motto couldn't be more wrong!

                    Since I got a scale I've become a big fan of weighing, even for liquids. Among other things, you can pour straight into the mixing container on the scale and save dirtying up a measuring cup.

                    No one has mentioned weighing eggs -- since the size of eggs can vary a lot, weighing them can be helpful (for example, if you only have large eggs and the recipe calls for extra large).

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                      MMRuth Apr 21, 2008 12:06 PM

                      In terms of eggs, various cookbooks also give volume "translations" - i.e. x number of large eggs vs. jumbo, etc.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                        jzerocsk Apr 22, 2008 11:09 AM

                        "you can pour straight into the mixing container on the scale and save dirtying up a measuring cup"

                        I can't bring myself to do this - once you dump something into the mixing bowl it's pretty hard to get it back out, and I often overshoot my target weight and have to pull a little bit out.

                        I've been weighing everything except yeast which in the recipes I've been using comes in increments too small to be weighed easily by my scale.

                        For water, having a volume measurement helps me figure out when I'm getting close to the right weight.

                  2. l
                    lydiainflorida Apr 21, 2008 10:45 AM

                    I weight everything.

                    1. eLizard Apr 22, 2008 11:45 AM

                      volume works. but i also find that environmental factors (humidity) can throw off the amount of dry works that I need. so I do go by feel sometimes. am i the only one or am i doing something wrong?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: eLizard
                        chowser Apr 22, 2008 11:49 AM

                        That's what I find, too, as I said above. Also, I fool around w/ adding white whole wheat flour and vital wheat gluten so it changes the consistency, too. This is why I have problems w/ using the stand mixer with making bread. I like to feel the dough as I knead.

                        1. re: eLizard
                          jzerocsk Apr 23, 2008 10:16 AM

                          Even weighing the ingredients I always trust the feel of the dough in the end.

                        2. Father Kitchen Apr 23, 2008 09:51 AM

                          When I can, I weigh the dry ingredients--though sometimes that is not an option, like when I am baking in someone else's kitchen. I prefer weighing the liquid ingredients as well. But, as was pointed out, a U.S. fluid ounce of water, weighs one ounce. So often it is just as convenient to measure by volume. However, when accuracy is important, I'll weigh the water. And if the weather is at all humid, I hold some of the water back until after autolysing the dough, because flour can absorb a lot of moisture from the atmosphere. Also, for small batches, I measure yeast and salt by volume. The reason is simply that for very small amounts, it is difficult to get an accurate measure on a scale that measures in 1/8 ounce increments.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Father Kitchen
                            oakjoan Apr 23, 2008 12:33 PM

                            This may sound like a stupid questions...actually 2 stupid questions, but here goes:

                            1. Everybody seems to agree that weighing is more accurate. How does one tell if one's scale is correct?

                            2. Weighing eggs. So when you find out how much they weigh, how does that translate into what's called for in the recipe?

                            1. re: oakjoan
                              eLizard Apr 23, 2008 01:16 PM

                              well, 2 cups of water should equal a pound. so put the container on the scale, tare it out, and then add the water. you'll see if it's accurate.

                              1. re: eLizard
                                Ruth Lafler Apr 23, 2008 03:13 PM

                                But then it's only as accurate as your measuring cup, which when measuring liquids isn't really very precise (is the line above the miniscus, below, etc.). Better to weigh something that has an exact known weight -- something you bought at the grocery store that was weighed (bag and all) would work (at most places the weight will be on the receipt down to a hundredth of an ounce).

                              2. re: oakjoan
                                Kelli2006 May 2, 2008 09:21 AM

                                The weight of as large USDA graded egg should be close to 60 grams.

                                I weight all my dry ingredients, except the spices, but measure my liquids by either beaker or weights, depending on the recipe. weighting is more accurate but many bread recipes don't require that accuracy.

                                I have a small certified weight that I check scales with, but it really doesn't make a big difference with electronic scales, as they don't tend be be adjustable by the home user.

                                1. re: oakjoan
                                  Channa Aug 16, 2009 09:53 AM

                                  >>How does one tell if one's scale is correct?<<

                                  Weigh a 4 oz stick of butter, and see if your scale registers 4 oz. Then weigh some coins -- US nickels weigh exactly 5.000g, and pennies weigh 2.500g.

                                  I agree with you -- weigh everything you possibly can, even if only to save time washing up.

                              3. a
                                AllenCohn May 2, 2008 07:56 AM

                                At bread school they taught us to measure all the ingredients by weight and that is what I have seen at most of the artisan bread bakeries I have observed.


                                1. j
                                  JaneRI May 2, 2008 10:11 AM

                                  No, because you know if dough is right by "feel" when you're kneading it....you can always add a bit more liquid or flour based on that.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JaneRI
                                    chowser May 2, 2008 11:47 AM

                                    That's how I feel. This is where the quantitative analysis part of me comes out--the measurements are only as accurate as the least accurate part so if you add anything for feel, it doesn't matter how accurate you were before. The difference between weighing and measuring isn't huge, if you measure correctly and consistently.

                                  2. s
                                    Smileelisa May 2, 2008 06:32 PM

                                    I nave never weighed my ingredients. It is pretty easy to tell when the dough is just right. I made crusty Italian bread today and it didn't take as much flour as the recipe called for. I usually add 3/4 of the flour and see how the texture is and add more if needed. The bread was crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside just like the bakeries. I also made pizza dough the same way and that came out perfect too.

                                    1. s
                                      Smileelisa Aug 16, 2009 04:03 AM

                                      I don't weigh any ingredients. I just baked 2 loaves of white bread last nite and it came out delicious. I have been baking bread since the price of a loaf is over 4.00 for a name brand. I also use my kitchenaid pro mixer and it couldn't be easier.

                                      1. corneygirl Aug 16, 2009 09:42 AM

                                        I weigh everything measured in cups, use spoons for small quantities. I only weigh eggs when they seem very large or small (which is often since they are farm eggs). I think weighing is easier, and there are less dishes and I'm lazy. However, I think knowing how the do should feel is the real key for good bread, not precise measurements.

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