Meet your Kitchen BFF— Your Digital Kitchen Scale!

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The most important tool in your baking repertoire is NOT that expensive stand mixer.

Family, cooking shows have ruined us.

Let me explain. In just about every baking show or YouTube video, you will see, WITHOUT FAIL, a gorgeous (probably KitchenAid) mixer on the countertop. It’s an impressive piece of equipment to be sure, and let’s be honest, it’s a bit of a status symbol for home kitchens.

It’s a misleading status symbol, since it’s not the most important piece of equipment in a home baker’s kitchen.

Seriously. It was true a hundred years ago and it’s true today: you can make an unbelievable cake with a wooden spoon, a big mixing bowl, and some elbow grease. You can live without a stand mixer.

There is one piece of equipment in your kitchen that will make you a better baker. It’s the one item that can have the biggest and most immediate impact on your baking. That item is the humble digital food scale.

Saints, you know I’d never lead you wrong. Hear me out:

1. A Digital Food Scale Helps You Become Consistent. Immediately.

With a digital food scale, you’ve now entered into a very happy place: the place where ingredients are measured by weight, and not volume.

I hear you all. “Shani, what are you talking about?”

In the United States, we customarily measure ingredients by volume (for example, “cups” of flour and sugar), and not by their weight (think…bathroom scale). Volume measurement means that you are measuring how much space an ingredient takes in a container, without regard to how much that ingredient actually weighs. It’s the way our mothers, and their mothers, and their mothers measured ingredients. It’s the way that recipes were passed onto us on 3” x 5” index cards with gorgeous, careful cursive script.

Some of our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers even have fancy, evolved ways of using volume measurement (again, “cups”).

Take flour for instance. Some swear by the scoop and sweep method. Some prefer to spoon flour into a measuring cup. Some “aerate” the flour by stirring it first, then use their measuring cup to scoop a cup of flour. Some real OGs have one specific mug in their cupboard whose sole purpose is to measure everything between an eighth of a cup and two cups. All of these aunties can bake. I’m absolutely not debating this point.

Every auntie swears by her “tried and true method” for measuring flour, just like every auntie swears that she has the one true recipe for macaroni and cheese. Using these volume measurements, you can expect to get somewhere between 120 grams and 160 grams of flour in a one-cup measuring cup. I have no idea how much flour goes in that special baking mug. That’s on another level.

But, for the measuring cup? It sounds like a big difference because IT IS A BIG DIFFERENCE.

Don’t believe me? Look below. I’m aiming for 128 grams:

As you can see, all of the methods yielded more than 128 grams. The typical “scoop and shake” method that is so common in home kitchens yielded 157 grams of flour, even after I aerated it! It’s enough of a difference to ensure that you’ll never be able to replicate a recipe twice, and also that you’ll consistently over-flour basically everything.

This is extremely frustrating for any baker, but I think it’s most frustrating for a beginner, who’s not likely able to pinpoint the exact point when a recipe went completely off the rails. So, as a beginning baker with dense, heavy buns, you’re left wondering both what went wrong, and why it went wrong. That’s not the way to build baking confidence.

Aunties, I love all of you. I respect every pound cake, layer cake, and rum cake you’ve ever made for me. I appreciate all of the recipes you’ve shared over the years. But I’ve found that measuring ingredients by volume creates vastly different products every time I bake, and that frustrates me to no end. Much respect to those of you who can do this. For real. I was not born with this gene.

For us mortals, using metric measurement for baking is an entirely different experience. Going back to our flour example, if a recipe calls for 256 grams of flour, you can just…add 256 grams of flour. No scooping. No sweeping. No spooning. No aerating. No flour gymnastics. Just you, your mixing bowl, and 256 grams of flour.

The next time I make the same recipe? 256 grams of flour. Every time after that? 256 grams of flour. Measuring ingredients by weight is the fastest way to create consistency in your baking.

2. Consistency Breeds Confidence in the Kitchen.

Using a digital food scale is literally the first tip I give to people who are intimidated by baking, since the first key to becoming a confident baker is to use tools and techniques to build consistency. Basically, this is the home run of consistency tips.

When you’re able to consistently recreate delicious cookies, cakes, breads and pies, your confidence builds to a crescendo. Maybe not a crescendo, because those build and then fade, but you get the point. Your confidence swells when you can make delicious baked goods consistently.

Your confidence builds even more when friends and family start begging you to make them over and over again, and you’re able to deliver. How can you deliver, you ask? By weighing your ingredients on your digital food scale.

The quickest way to consistency and confidence is a digital food scale. I purchased my first one on Amazon for less than $15.00, and it changed everything for me.

3. A Digital Food Scale Avoids Ingredient Waste.

When you use a digital food scale to weigh ingredients, you’re using exactly how much you need in a particular recipe. Taking the flour example, above, every time I used another method, I ended up with much more than one cup of flour. Not only would this lead to an over-floured product, it means that I’m actually wasting ingredients every time I bake. {insert flying money emoji here.}

I have two children and no extra money lying around. This alone is reason enough to justify a digital food scale.

4. How to Choose a Digital Food Scale.

This is honestly a matter of preference. I’ll link the three digital scales in my kitchen (I don’t get paid for these promotions and am just sharing information), but here are the most important things that I look for when considering a kitchen scale:

  1. A scale with at least an 11-pound capacity;
  2. A scale that measures accurately (you can purchase a small set of weights to test and calibrate your scale here)
  3. A scale that measures grams and milliliters (more on this later);
  4. A scale with a larger platform for measuring (so that big bowls can sit securely without the threat of tipping over and dusting your entire kitchen in a fine mist of confectioner’s sugar); and
  5. A scale that is durable enough for daily use (no glass platforms for me).

I do pay attention to scale design, because I do love sleek kitchen gadgets, but function is absolutely greater than form when it comes to this kitchen tool.

As promised, here are the three that currently live in my kitchen. They’re all high performers on my list, and I honestly think you can’t go wrong with any of them:

  1. Here’s the first digital kitchen scale that I ever owned. It’s a great scale for beginners, even though it does not have a large platform: Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale, Silver
  2. My sister gifted me this digital kitchen scale. It’s featured in the video, below, and has been an absolute workhorse for me for several years: OXO Good Grips 11 Pound Food Scale with Pull-Out Display, Stainless Steel (I recently went on vacation and purchased the new version of this scale, found here.)
  3. This is my most recent acquisition and I love it like a shiny new convertible (electric, of course): Nicewell Food Scale, 22lb Digital Kitchen Scale Weight Grams and oz for Cooking Baking, 1g/0.1oz Precise Graduation, Stainless Steel and Tempered Glass

For more on food scales (including a hands on tutorial about how to use one, and step-by-step directions to help you make delicious snickerdoodle cookies), take a look at this video!

See you soon!

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