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Baking & Pastry Books in Metric


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Oh, this is a good idea for a thread. I buy pastry books only if they use metric. I've found that British/European editions of books are more likely to have metric than the ones published for Americans. The pro books almost always have metric. Of the non-pro books, Rose Levy Beranbaum's books have cups/spoonfuls, oz/pounds and metric. The new Susur Lee book, The Sweet Spot, also gives the three measuring options. I'm interested in hearing of other books.

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...  I know that metric recipes are more likely to turn out as the author intended.

I'm an enthusiast for metric cooking (not least because its so easy to scale recipe quantities).

BUT the real divide is between those authors that use *volume* measures and those that use *weight* measures, IMHO.

Using volume measures for solids that may have variable 'packing densities' (notably flour and salt) immediately introduces imprecision and uncertainty.

My personal opinion is that neither imprecision nor uncertainty is a positive characteristic that should be deliberately introduced into the communication process that is recipe writing.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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When I was browsing at cookbooks, I found that cookbooks published in Europe and Australiasia are more likely to have weight measurements than those published in North America (in Canada, measurements will often be published in metric, but they will still be volume measurements--for example, flour will be in mL).

Oops. I just noticed that aprilmei said pretty much the same thing...Great minds think alike!

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Standing up for the authors here...when I interviewed Ann Amernick about her book she said she had all of the recipes in metric and the publisher changed them all to " housewife." She was able to negotiate a mixed format but was very unhappy about the conversion. She's a fairly big name with a succesful previous publishing history, so this is a much bigger battle than most authors can handle on their own.

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... Ann Amernick ... said she had all of the recipes in metric and the publisher changed them all to " housewife."  ...

That is precisely what I had in mind when I wrote (above) about the *deliberate* introduction of imprecision and uncertainty.

Its not so much about metric vs imperial -- its weights rather than volumes of loose (compactable) solids.

It seems to patronise the US reader (poor thing, not able to buy and use a $15 digital scale) and it really must hurt export sales.

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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  • 3 weeks later...

The Sweet Spot is by Pichet Ong, not Susur Lee, I just got it yesterday and there are some interesting recipes.

Also, Indulge, 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark has everything in metric first, then avoirdupois.

Chef Clark is a Brit, and even though she's been at the French Laundry for two or three years, the book seems quite British. I must add I am a little disappointed, this does not seem to be a French Laundry desserts book, rather the chef's favorites from her entire career. The recipes do look good, and there are a few interesting twists, I might make the black forest trifle but I already have plenty of recipes for banana cake, shortbread, lemon tart, etc. I was hoping for more complex plated desserts.

Looking through my bookshelf...Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme has metric (but regular desserts by him does not), the Tartine bakery book by Pruitt & Robertson does (GREAT bakery in San Francisco), and Sweet Seasons by Richard Leach but it is odd that he gives sugar and flour in mililiters, not grams (everything else is in cups, not weight) so maybe that is not as helpful.

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Sweet Seasons by Richard Leach but it is odd that he gives sugar and flour in mililiters, not grams

HAHA! That's not an improvement at all! :laugh: He might as well have used cups throughout. To be fair, I have browsed that book in the shop and everything does look good.... But man, somebody scr**ed the pooch on that one.

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

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. . .and Sweet Seasons by Richard Leach but it is odd that he gives sugar and flour in mililiters, not grams (everything else is in cups, not weight) so maybe that is not as helpful.

Is he Canadian? Canadian cookbooks often have volume measurements in metric, rather than metric weights or imperial volumes (or weights).

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Hee, I sincerely apologize to all Canadians out there.

Anyway, Tish Boyle's Grand Finales books (Neoclassical and Modernist view of plated desserts) are in metric. Will try to look out for more.

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

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  • 1 year later...

Does anyone have the US American copy of Pastry: Savory and Sweet by Michel Roux? (Wiley, ISBN 978-0470421345). I just wanted to find out for a friend if it's in Metric or not. Thanks!

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

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Does anyone have the US American copy of Pastry: Savory and Sweet by Michel Roux? (Wiley, ISBN 978-0470421345). I just wanted to find out for a friend if it's in Metric or not. Thanks!

I do recognise that you are asking a very specific question (which I can't answer).

However, it might be worth putting on record that the British edition (Quadrille, 2008 hardback, ISBN 978 184400 620 5) is based on metric weights, with metric (5ml and 15ml) spoons used for small quantities.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I've heard cookbook authors complain about a chicken and egg phenomenon ... publishers don't like to publish weights because customers don't have scales; customers don't have scales because books aren't published with weights.

It might help if people who like to measure in a way that makes sense made some noise. Has anyone thought about petitioning publishers?

For me, a book needs to look unusually good for me to consider it, if it omits weights. Too much bother. I'm not interested in regressing and trying to make something like a cake with volume flour measurements.

I just wrote to Dorrie Greenspan yesterday to find out what conversions she used for one of her books. Just so I can reverse engineer it to the actual meausurements she used while developing the recipes! (This phenomenon pisses her off too).

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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The Sweet Spot is by Pichet Ong, not Susur Lee, I just got it yesterday and there are some interesting recipes.

Also, Indulge, 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark has everything in metric first, then avoirdupois.

Chef Clark is a Brit, and even though she's been at the French Laundry for two or three years, the book seems quite British.  I must add I am a little disappointed, this does not seem to be a French Laundry desserts book, rather the chef's favorites from her entire career.  The recipes do look good, and there are a few interesting twists, I might make the black forest trifle but I already have plenty of recipes for banana cake, shortbread, lemon tart, etc.  I was hoping for more complex plated desserts.

Looking through my bookshelf...Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme has metric (but regular desserts by him does not), the Tartine bakery book by Pruitt & Robertson does (GREAT bakery in San Francisco), and Sweet Seasons by Richard Leach but it is odd that he gives sugar and flour in mililiters, not grams (everything else is in cups, not weight) so maybe that is not as helpful.

The recipes in Sweet Seasons must have been tested by a master , I've never had one of those screw up on me.

I often use gourmetsleuth.com when I have a digi scale break down on me, converting grams into cups, etc.

It's extremely useful, click on conversions.

2317/5000

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... converting grams into cups, etc.

It's extremely useful, click on conversions.

The basic wrong assumption is that an accurate volume/weight conversion is possible for loose solids.

It doesn't matter who does the conversion, it is at best approximate.

Because any volume measure of a loose solid is an approximate measure.

Maybe I should create a website that uses the power of a modern computer to convert precisely (to at least four decimal places) those techie foreign grams into an easy and traditional measure that everyone has access to -- 'handfuls'. :rolleyes:

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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... converting grams into cups, etc.

It's extremely useful, click on conversions.

The basic wrong assumption is that an accurate volume/weight conversion is possible for loose solids.

It doesn't matter who does the conversion, it is at best approximate.

Because any volume measure of a loose solid is an approximate measure.

Maybe I should create a website that uses the power of a modern computer to convert precisely (to at least four decimal places) those techie foreign grams into an easy and traditional measure that everyone has access to -- 'handfuls'. :rolleyes:

Yes, I know what you mean but I guess I've been extremely lucky.

The recipes that I've had to convert in a pinch have turned out pretty much as well.

I know other chefs, well known people who think it does the stuff too but if you have the blueprint for your computer idea I would surely welcome it! :smile: but no handsfuls please, QS is good enough :wink:

2317/5000

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Why can't book publishers offer mixed format:

Chicken, cooked and diced .........X Cups...............OR........Y Grams

Onion, minced.............................X Tbsp +Z Tsp....OR........Y Grams

Chix stock...................................X Pints................OR........Y ccs

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I was inspired by RLB Cake Bible list to create a spreadsheet of conversions. My sheet lists ingredients, which I add to it as necessary. The columns are cup measurements from quarters and thirds to 1 cup coverted to grams. I even weigh liquids. Some ingredients get tablespoons, too (my math skills are sometimes fleeting).

I keep a copy pasted to the inside of the cabinet door where the scale is kept. Other copies are taped inside the back of cookbooks for quick conversions.

After awhile, you realize you've memorized most of the common ingredients conversions.

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Why can't book publishers offer mixed format:

Chicken, cooked and diced .........X Cups...............OR........Y Grams

Onion, minced.............................X Tbsp +Z Tsp....OR........Y Grams

Chix stock...................................X Pints................OR........Y ccs

At a publisher I worked for, we did exactly this, at my urging, since we sold to two major distributors: one British, and one American. We'd buy the cookbooks from French and Australian publishers and repackage them for both the British and American markets.

So, if you're really unhappy with the format of a cookbook, write the publishers and tell them.

The fringe benefits of working somewhere where everyone took home the recipes, tried them, and gleefully brought in the results, were pretty good. After the cupcake book, though, I had to quit. :wink:

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... We'd buy the cookbooks from French and Australian publishers and repackage them for both the British and American markets.

...

"Repackage"?

So how did you do the conversions?

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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... We'd buy the cookbooks from French and Australian publishers and repackage them for both the British and American markets.

"Repackage"?

So how did you do the conversions?

"Repackage" just means translate (in the case of the French stuff) and edit for content. Truly, though, we were working with recipes that have been making the publishing rounds for years, and are simply redone every few years with new photos and graphics. Clever, no? :rolleyes:

The conversions were done with gourmetsleuth.com (by which I mean me running every ingredient and amount through it), which someone mentioned upthread.

Edited by Rehovot (log)
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... We'd buy the cookbooks from French and Australian publishers and repackage them for both the British and American markets.

"Repackage"?

So how did you do the conversions?

"Repackage" just means translate (in the case of the French stuff) and edit for content. Truly, though, we were working with recipes that have been making the publishing rounds for years, and are simply redone every few years with new photos and graphics. Clever, no? :rolleyes:

The conversions were done with gourmetsleuth.com (by which I mean me running every ingredient and amount through it), which someone mentioned upthread.

While I don't care all that much about the loss of precision in making a mechanical (as opposed to kitchen) conversion from grams to cups for the US market, I'd really really hate to pay for a book that someone had "converted" from cups to grams in that fashion.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Why is that bad?

I know it's not like doing it yourself but are RLB's conversions of flour vs. oil, etc. totally accurate when a cup of flour could weigh more in wash.D.C or Miami then it does in Arizona or New Mexico?

I think there would be a bit of difference, don't you?

Gourmetsleuth.com is used by cookbook authors to convert.

With the advent of cooks getting more into high end chefs advocating scaling, more books using volume and metric ( which I see more & more) will get out there.

But if a cookbook is by someone who is pitched to LCD audiences it's always going to be by volume.

My beef?

Testing, books need to be tested better.

Best of luck

Edited by tan319 (log)

2317/5000

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