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Basics of Cake Making – Formulas and Measurements
Formulas and measurements
Bakers usually talk about formulas rather than recipes. If this sounds more like a chemistry lab than a food production facility, it’s with good reason. A bakeshop is very much like a chemistry lab, both in the scientific precision of the processes and the complex reactions that occur during mixing and baking.
Ingredients are almost always weighed in the bakeshop, rather than measured by volume, because measuring by weight is more accurate. Accuracy of measurements, as we said, is essential in the bakeshop. Unlike home baking recipes, a professional baker’s recipe doesn’t call for 6 cups of flour, for example.
To show yourself the importance of weight instead of measuring by volume, measure a cup of flour in two ways:
(a) Sift some flour and place a light spoon in a dry measure. Level the top and weigh the flour.
(b) Scoop some unsalted flour in the same measure and pack lightly. level
Weigh the top and flour. Notice the difference. No wonder home recipes can be so inconsistent!
A baker’s term for weighing ingredients is scaling.
The following ingredients, and only these ingredients, can sometimes be measured by volume, in the ratio of 1 pint per pound or 1 liter per kilogram:
o Water or milk or eggs
Volume measurement is often used when measuring water for small or medium-sized batches of bread. The results are generally good. However, when accuracy is critical, it is better to weigh. This is because a pint of water is actually a little more than a pound, or about 16.7 ounces. (This figure varies with water temperature.)
For convenience, liquid measuring devices are frequently used when making products other than baked goods—such as sauces, syrups, puddings, and custards.
Units of measurement
The system of measurement used in the United States is very complicated. Even lifelong users of the system sometimes have trouble remembering how many fluid ounces are in a quart and how many feet are in a mile.
The metric system
The United States is the only major country that uses the complex system of measurement we have just described. Other countries use a much simpler system called the metric system.
Abbreviations of US units of measurement used
fluid ounce (fl oz)
In the metric system, there is a basic unit for each type of measurement:
Gram is the basic unit of weight.
Liter is the basic unit of volume.
The meter is the basic unit of length.
Degree Celsius is the basic unit of temperature.
Larger or smaller units are made simply by multiplying or dividing by 10, 100.
1000, and so on. These divisions are expressed by prefixes. The ones you need
Kilo- = 1000
deci- = 1D10 or 0.1
centi- = 1D100 or 0.01
Milli- = 1D1000 or 0.001
Formulas and measurements
Quantity Unit Abbreviation
Volume liter l
Length meter m
Temperature degrees Celsius degrees Celsius
Divisions and Multipliers
Prefix/Example Meaning Abbreviation
Kilo – 1000 k
Kilogram 1000 gram kg
deci- 1D10 d
deciliter 0.1 liter dl
centi- 1D100 c
cm 0.01 m cm
Milli- 1D1000 m
mm 0.001 m mm
Converting to metric
Many people think that the metric system is more difficult to learn than it actually is. This is because they think of metric units in terms of US units. They read that there are 28.35 grams in an ounce and are immediately convinced that they will never be able to learn metrics. Don’t worry about being able to convert US units to metric units and vice versa. This is a very important point to remember, especially if you think that the metric system can be difficult to learn. The reason for this is simple. You are usually working in one system or the other. You rarely, if ever, have to convert from one to the other. (An exception might be if you have tools based on one system and want to use a formula written in another.) Many people today have imported cars and repair them with metric tools without worrying about how many millimeters are in an inch. Similarly, if and when American bakeshops and kitchens switch to the metric system, American cooks and bakers will use scales that measure in grams and kilograms, volume measures in liters and deciliters, and thermometers in degrees Celsius. Formulas denoting these units. They don’t have to worry about how many grams are in an ounce. To get used to working in metric units, it’s helpful to get a feel for how big the units are. The following rough equivalents can be used to help visualize metric units. They are not exact conversion factors.
A kilogram is slightly more than 2 pounds.
A gram is about 1D30 oz. Half a teaspoon of flour weighs a little less than a
A liter is slightly more than a quart.
A deciliter is slightly less than half a cup.
A centiliter is about 2 teaspoons.
A meter is a little more than 3 feet.
A centimeter is approximately 3D8 inches.
0°C is the freezing point of water (32°F).
100°C is the boiling point of water (212°F).
A rise or fall of 1 degree Celsius is roughly equivalent to 2
Metric formulas and recipes
American industry will someday adopt the metric system. Many recipe writers are already eager to get a head start and are printing metric equivalents. As a result, you’ll see recipes that call for 454 grams of flour, 28.35 grams of butter, or a baking temperature of 191 degrees Celsius. No wonder people fear the metric system! Kitchens in metric countries don’t work with such unreasonable numbers, much more than we normally use 1 lb 11D4 oz of flour, 2.19 oz of butter, or a baking temperature of 348°F. This would defeat the entire purpose of the metric system, which should be simple and practical. If you’ve had a chance to look at a French cookbook, you’ll see nice, round numbers like 1 kg, 200 g, and 4 dL.
The metric measures in the formulas in this book are not identical to the American measures given with them. You should think of the metric part of the formulas as separate formulas with yields that are close to but not identical to the US formulas. . To give exact equivalents would require the use of difficult, impractical numbers. If you have metric equipment, use metric units, and if you have US equipment, use US units. You rarely need to worry about converting between the two. For the most part, the total yields of the metric formulas in this book are close to the yields of the US formulas while keeping the component ratios the same. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to keep the ratios exactly the same because the American system is not decimal-based like the metric system. In some cases, metric quantities produce slightly different results due to different proportions, but these differences are usually very small.
The principle of using a Baker scale is simple: the scale must be balanced before the weight is set, and it must be balanced again after the measurement. The following procedure applies to the most commonly used type of Baker’s scale.
1. Set a scale scoop or other container on the left side of the scale.
2. Balance the scale by placing the counterweights on the right side
and/or by adjusting the ounce weight on the horizontal bar.
3. Set the scale for the desired weight by placing the weight on the right side
and/or to move ounce weight.
For example, to set a scale of 1 lb 8 oz, place a 1-lb weight on the right side and
Move the ounce weight to the right by 8 ounces. If the ounce weight is already more than 8 ounces, so
You can’t move it another 8, add 2 lb to the right side of the scale and subtract 8
Ounce weight by moving 8 places to the left. The result is still 1 lb 8 oz.
4. Add the measured component to the left side until the scale balances.
Measured by weight
A good balance scale should be accurate to 1D4 oz (0.25 oz) or, if metric, 5 g. Dry materials weighing less than 1D4 oz can be measured by dividing a physically larger quantity into equal parts. For example, to measure 1D16 oz
(0.06 oz), first weigh 1D4 ounces, then divide it into four equal piles using a small knife.
For fine pastry work, a small battery-operated digital scale is more useful than a large balance scale. A good digital scale is relatively inexpensive. It can instantly measure quantities to the nearest 1D8 oz or to the nearest 2 g. Most digital scales have a zero or tire button that sets the indicated weight to zero. For example, you can set the container on the scale, set the weight to zero, add the desired amount of the first ingredient, set the weight to zero again, add the second ingredient, and so on. It speeds up the weighing of dry ingredients that will be sifted together, e.g. However, remember that careful weighing on a fine scale is more accurate.
British bakers have a convenient method for measuring out baking powder when a small amount is needed. They use a mixture called scone flour. To make one pound of scone dough, mix 15 ounces of flour and 1 ounce of baking powder; One ounce (1D16 lb) of scone dough contains 1D16 (0.06 oz) of baking powder. For every 1D16 ounces of baking powder you need in the formula, substitute 1 ounce of scone flour for 1 ounce of flour called for in the formula. To make formula conversions and calculations easier, fractions of an ounce that appear in the ingredient tables of formulas in this book are written as decimals. Thus, 11D 2 oz is written as 1.5 oz and 1D4 oz is written as 0.25 oz.
Bakers use a simple but versatile system of percentages to express their formulas. Baker’s percentages express the amount of each ingredient used as a percentage of the flour used. To put it differently, the percentage of each ingredient is its total weight divided by the weight of the flour, multiplied by 100%, or:
100% = % of component
Thus, the flour is always 100%. If two types of flour are used, their total is 100%. Any ingredient that weighs the same as the amount of flour used is also given 100%. The cake formula ingredients listed on page 11 illustrate how these percentages are used. Check the figures with the equations above to make sure you understand them. Please note that these numbers do not represent percentages of total yield. They are simply a way of expressing component proportions. The total yield of these percentage numbers will always be greater than 100%. The advantages of using Baker’s percentages are that the formula is easily adapted to any yield, and single ingredients can be varied and other ingredients can be added without changing the entire formula. For example, you can add raisins to a muffin mix formula while keeping the percentages of all other ingredients the same. Obviously, the percentage system can be used based on the weight of flours such as bread, cakes and cookies. However, this principle can also be used in other formulas by selecting and installing the main ingredients. As it 100%. In this book, ingredients other than flour are always used as a 100% base.
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