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Feb 19, 2011 03:23 PM

Do you measure?

Other than baking do you measure or even weigh ingredients? Are there some ingredients that are more likely to get the extra scrutiny? I only measure when I'm doing cured meats adn that is always weighed. Otherwise it's a dash of this and a dash of that.


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  1. Nope. I don't even measure or weigh when baking sometimes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      I always thought precision was important in baking and then I worked in a pastry kitchen. There was a lot of 'close enough' measuring going on among the pros.

      1. re: Sooeygun

        The thing with baking is that your surroundings will determine and affect how and when you use ingredients. Things like temp, humidity, atmospheric pressure, etc. will all require adjustments on the fly.

        So, if a person has a recipe in front of them, there is no way to know going in whether those state measurements will apply and work effectively in the environment the person is baking in.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Very true. I was working in the mountains, so we were adjusting for altitude (and lack of humidity) every time we tried a new recipe.

    2. If I am doing a recipe for the first time, especially when it is a cuisine that I am not familiar with--right now I'm working on Indian--I do measure because I am following a recipe that uses ingredients I am not yet familiar with. The same goes when I am using any recipe for the first time. I figure give it a chance the way it is can always change it the next time. Oh, and I also measure the salt when making meatloaf or meatballs, otherwise I tend to over or under salt--both ways to ruin a dish. For most other dishes--not including baking--the measuring utensils rarely come out.

      2 Replies
      1. re: escondido123

        same with me... i follow the recipe exactly the first time, and then once i taste it as it "should" be made, i adjust the tastes the next time to my own preferences.

        i do measure with baking though, although i rarely bake.

        1. re: jamieeats

          same here or testing a recipe for the spice level. For instance, I tend to measure seeds before toasting in a pan or spices in a recipe that aren't in my ususal rep. There are plenty of meals I "wing" on measurements but it really depends on the recipe and how familiar I am with the individual ingredients.

      2. Nah. If I'm making a recipe for the first time, I'll read it to get the gist of the proportions and ingredients, but I don't measure. Actually, the only thing I ever do measure is rice, but since my rice is always terrible, maybe I should stop.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Whinerdiner

          Have you tried cooking your rice pasta style? That solved most of my rice cooking woes.

          1. re: Whinerdiner

            As NanH suggested I lerned in 1975 from watching the Galloping Gourmet that rice is really smart. It knows exactly how much water to absorb in the correct cooking time. I overwater the pot and add the rice. then i set the timer. when it goes off i dump the rice and all the extra water through a collander.

            as long as you do not buy stupid rice it works, has for me for 35 years.

            1. re: jfood

              Thanks Nan & jfood, I never heard of that. Guess I wasn't paying close enough attention to Graham Kerr. This sounds like a great suggestion. I'll definitely try that tonight. It'll be a pleasure to get rid of that bulky rice cooker!

              1. re: Whinerdiner

                Update :
                I made the rice pasta style - what a revelation! It was great. Cheers all around.
                Thanks again. I guess you really do learn something new every day.

          2. Not very often at all unless it is something that requires precision like a bit of molecular gastronomy. Not always in baking, either. I often go by feel with pastry, pasta, etc.

            4 Replies
            1. re: chefathome

              yes with dough the texture feel is the best way to go and learning that is the best way to not panic and fix it.

              otherwise it's an "ish" question I'll pour salt or whatever into my hand to about the amount, gradually add that and either toss the rest in after tasting or chuck the unused down the sink.

              I feel sort of sorry for those who freak over 1/4 tsp measurements (unless as mentioned it's the first time - whoa I've made that mistake - but after the 4th or 5th time you really should have a feel for what's right)

              1. re: hill food

                I totally agree with you, but get the feeling bravado leads people to say they don't measure. I figure if someone has spent some time working on a recipe it might be worth my finding out what they learned rather than just assuming I know. Freaking out over what your call a "1/4 tsp measurement" is different, in my opinion, to appreciating a nuanced recipe where strong flavors in small quantities might make a difference. Being someone who appreciates what seems to be the common statement of big and bold flavors, I think it can be interesting to work with recipes that are closer to small and subtle.

                1. re: escondido123

                  I see your point, while I've made huge mistakes (sorry to anybody back then, if you're still pissed I'll buy you a pack of pepcid) I also learned which things only take a little and which just get lost. trial and error is time-consuming, but IMHO one learns so much more by throwing caution to the wind (btw hefty amounts of cayenne really have no place in a spaghetti sauce - oops) ehh live and learn.

                  now if we're talking saffron or truffles, I s'pose small amounts do matter.

                  1. re: hill food

                    "one learns so much more by throwing caution to the wind"

                    Yes, this exactly! Trial and error in tiny increments with multiple tries on the same recipe is also VERY expensive! The only caveat is that you have to be willing to eat your failures... ;)

            2. When I'm making a roux or gravy, or pretty much anything having to do with thickening liquid or cooking grains, yes. Of course, "measuring" comes in lots of guises - I find myself eyeballing a lot of heaping scoops of this, a scant handful of that, and after 40+ years of dedicated cooking can fairly accurately translate those quantities into standard measures if I'm writing down the recipe for someone. And if I need to double check I'll just throw that scoop or handful into a measuring cup and see what it has to say.

              Some things I bake I've found to be remarkably accommodating to lackadaisical measuring, cornbread being the outstanding example. After having done successful batches with both batters that had the consistency of wet sand and those that poured like pancake batter, I've decided it's damn near bulletproof and I'm going to stop fretting about it.

              11 Replies
              1. re: Will Owen

                The notion that precise measuring and weighing in baking is required for great results is way overrated.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  if one is experienced and understands the result of , say, more flour or more fat, this is true. But if not, measuring can be a great help.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Ain't that the truth? How else would so many cultures have a zillion bread recipes to offer, each?

                    That said, I think my baking is much improved by weighing my ingredients. But oh, I only weigh so that someday I know my ratios by look and feel. I want to cook like my great grandma did.

                    1. re: Vetter

                      Your grandma is what I consider a true cook.

                      If you can't cook by your five senses (i.e. touch, taste, smell, sight, feel), and must follow a recipe to make something edible, you're not a cook (or baker), but a lemming.

                      Nothing wrong with being a lemming, but just don't go around calling yourself a cook, or pretending to be one.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        I give baker's something of a pass, except, EXCEPT when it comes to knowing if your bread dough has the right flour to liquid ratio. but the rest is a process and after a few failed tries you still can't get the consistency part right....sorry.

                        otherwise regarding the baking powder/soda yeast quantities, then one can fall back on a recipe, and if the subject is pastry? now that takes years IMHO.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Like I said I don't do much measuring, but one thing I don't get is this macho thing about not measuring. Somehow you're not a real cook if you measure? Why?


                          1. re: JuniorBalloon

                            Somehow you're not a real cook if you measure? Why?

                            No, that's not what I said.

                            What I said was, if you can only cook something by following recipe, then you're not really a cook.

                            It's not a "macho thing" but a frustration thing. Ever get baffled someone says they are a great cook but "can't make X because they lost their recipe for X"?

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Can't say I've ever had that frustration. Never met anyone that could only cook by following a recipe, but have known many good cooks that preferred to measure ingredients.


                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Boy, ipsedixit do you work in sweeping generalizations! I can make something edible with no problem, but when I'm working with new ingredients or a new cuisine I start with recipes so I can begin to understand proportions, flavors and how things work together. Since I don't have ESP, I figure a recipe is a good place to start.

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              See and I think if you can put a good meal on the table night after night you are a cook, even if you slavishly follow a recipe. Somewhere along the line, you are doing something right.

                              1. re: NanH

                                Somewhere along the line, you are doing something right.

                                Couldn't agree more. Doing something right does not equate to being a cook.