Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Converting Favorite Recipes from Volume to Weight Measurements


Chris Amirault
 Share

Recommended Posts

Most Society members have signed a blood oath to follow the Kitchen Scale Manifesto (if you haven't, you should: click here). I'd also venture to guess that several of us have converted beloved recipes to weight measures as a result.

I thought we should have a topic to share that information. For starters, here is a conversion of Dorie Greenspan's spaetzle recipe:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 large eggs

3/4 cup whole milk

She adds herbs, but for tonight's dinner I didn't do that so I can't give you the conversion for the green stuff.

I made a double batch (eight for dinner); here are the weights for that larger amount:

1.5g white pepper (40 berries)

1g nutmeg

8g salt

600g flour

300g eggs

350g milk

Anyone with me? I'll give you my pancake recipe if you are. :wink:

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What method did you use for the conversion?

I think we should just collect data on the densities of common dry ingredients, sugar solutions, and ingredients specified by the "each." Things like...

  • Sugar (in all its forms)
  • Baking soda and powder
  • Honey
  • Flour
  • Other flours and starches (cornmeal, cornstarch, tapioca starch, etc)
  • Salt
  • Molasses
  • One "large egg"

Anyway, you get the idea. If we can come up with a list of ingredients, I'd be happy to make a Google Form/Spreadsheet to collect the data. You'd just go to your kitchen, measure what one of your cups says one cup of your sugar weights, and you put that into the form. The spreadsheet will average the data, and could even give stats like standard deviation so you know how reliable the conversion is. Maybe this can address Fat Guy's problems with using the estimation method for conversion.

Edited by emannths (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting this! You just reminded me of a couple of posted recipes that I have tried and wanted to convert and never got around to actually writing the info down!

Here's my current fave:

ElfWorks'

BLUE CHEESE AND PECAN CRACKERS

* 4.5oz crumbled blue CHEESE, chilled

* 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

* .04 oz coarsely ground black pepper

* 5 oz all purpose flour

* 2.25 oz pecans, lightly toasted, coarsely chopped

* Pecan halves for topping crackers, about 3 oz

edited for completeness, hit the wrong key on my keyboard!

Edited by Lisa Shock (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What method did you use for the conversion?

I think we should just collect data on the densities of common dry ingredients, sugar solutions, and ingredients specified by the "each." Things like...

  • Sugar (in all its forms)
  • Baking soda and powder
  • Honey
  • Flour
  • Other flours and starches (cornmeal, cornstarch, tapioca starch, etc)
  • Salt
  • Molasses
  • One "large egg"

Anyway, you get the idea. If we can come up with a list of ingredients, I'd be happy to make a Google Form/Spreadsheet to collect the data. You'd just go to your kitchen, measure what one of your cups says one cup of your sugar weights, and you put that into the form. The spreadsheet will average the data, and could even give stats like standard deviation so you know how reliable the conversion is. Maybe this can address Fat Guy's problems with using the estimation method for conversion.

I think this is a good idea.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One good source is

http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php

It's meant for something else but it has a huge database and it's easy to get what you are looking for. Under ingredients just put in the amount and the type of one ingredient and then analyze and from there you can look at the serving size weight in the results. Click on edit recipe to change the ingredient and obviously only do one at a time. So,

1 tbsp sugar = 13g

1 tbsp salt = 18g

1 tbsp baking powder = 15g

1 tbsp molasses = 20g

3 medium potatoes = 639g

etc

rg

Edited by roygon (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am quite interested in this thread as I have been diligently converting my most-used recipes and formulas to weight for years but I have been having a couple of problems...

1. Available conversion charts and calculators usually do not agree, especially at smaller measurements. The 4.5 cups of flour from the doubled Greenspan spaetzle recipe in Chris' original post came back variously as 562 grams, 561 grams and 562.5 grams between 2 online convert utilities and a recipe software program (MasterCook) I have on a computer at home. All very close (although a ways from Chris' 600 grams) but the 1/2 tsp of white pepper came back as 1 1/8 gram, 2.5 grams and 2 grams on the same calculators as above - a big range for something as powerful as white pepper and bracketing Chris' 1.5 gram result. There is even some question of how much a large US egg weighs (47 to 52 grams) some of which may be attributed to confusion between "shell-on" and "shell-off" eggs and the difference between the minimum legal weight per dozen eggs and the minimim/maximum weight allowances per individual egg. Egg weights in recipes are of particular interest as I use home-grown own eggs exclusively and they are all over the place in size.

2. Accuracy of empirical data. Usually when I convert a recipe for the first time I double check the calculated figures I get against real-life. Everybody's style of measuring is a little different and I want an accurate conversion of my standard measures. I do this by taking 10 cups (or tablespoons, or teaspoons...) of the ingredient, weigh it and divide the weight by ten. I do this twice and if the numbers are reasonably close I take the mean. If they are not I'll do it a couple more times and take the average. This gets it about as accurate as I need and also helps make really small amounts (10th of grams) more manageable. These are now my base weights and the recipes work well with them but I wonder how different (better?) they might turn out with someone else's conversions.

3. In practice I still find myself reaching for the measuring spoons for very small measures so now all my recipes have dual measure/weight notations for dry ingredients under a tablespoon. It feels like cheating.

The Big Cheese

BlackMesaRanch.com

My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

BMR on FaceBook

"The Flavor of the White Mountains"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems to me that your conversion makes your results more consistent but the only way of knowing if it is right is by judging the results. And unfortunately shared conversion factors may be convenient but they don't get around the original problem with using volumes in the first place.

I think the change should be a 2 step process: Convert the recipe using your best conversion factors - either ones you have developed yourself (possibly by measuring both ways on the fly), or ones you look up. Then you have to judge the result and figure out what to adjust. The trouble is some of us don't have the skill to know that part for some baking/cooking or the patience to do the record keeping. It seems to me it is a daunting task for a group to go through the process for all but the most popular recipes and I'm not sure how to compile the results in a useful fashion.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let me try to clarify.

There are, as pointed out by others here, many guides for conversions. However, we don't have -- and I don't know of -- a repository for converted recipes that are tried and true. So I'm suggesting that we start tracking our attempts at conversion here and posting the recipes that work.

Simply doing the math isn't good enough. What you'd post here is a recipe that you both converted and tested, that you can affirm is top-notch and will replace your previous volume-measured recipe.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What method did you use for the conversion?

I measured out the amounts by volume as indicated in the original recipe. Then I made a few adjustments to suit my own tastes (more white pepper, for example). What you see above is the final version that I prefer.

Indeed, you may want to tweak it yourself -- as with all recipes! But tweaking it based on your own results gives you the sort of control that competing charts do not. And I, for one, would very much trust, say, xxchef or Lisa Shock's tried-and-true weight-based recipes a lot more than something that got produced by some conversion software -- though, of course that would be a useful starting point.

1. Available conversion charts and calculators usually do not agree, especially at smaller measurements.

Yes, that's right, and as I noted above, the recipe I presented has been tweaked to make a slightly less runny spaetzle batter, hence the slight increase in flour.

3. In practice I still find myself reaching for the measuring spoons for very small measures so now all my recipes have dual measure/weight notations for dry ingredients under a tablespoon. It feels like cheating.

I would argue that it's not cheating at all! If you can get consistently accurate results for light-weight items using spoons, why not use them? The goal isn't weight purity but using weight as a means to improve quality and consistency when possible. When other means do that, well, let's use 'em!

The trouble is some of us don't have the skill to know that part for some baking/cooking or the patience to do the record keeping. It seems to me it is a daunting task for a group to go through the process for all but the most popular recipes and I'm not sure how to compile the results in a useful fashion.

Perhaps daunting for you, haresfur, when talking about certain recipes -- but perhaps another member has a recipe that nails the dish you find daunting! We'll never know if we don't try, after all! I'm secretly hoping that someone out there has converted Greenspan/Hermé's World Peace cookies...!

So who's with me? xxchef, are we going to see some of your best converted recipes?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So here's another, this time for pancakes. The recipe is based on a mish-mash of ideas taken from Joy of Cooking and Bittman's How to Cook Everything, but uses a balance of fine cornmeal and AP flour that suits our tastes. It's also a good example of a recipe where weight-based measuring is a lot easier: you just put the dry bowl on the scale, add & tare, add & tare, etc., then put the wet bowl on the scale and repeat. Stir until just combined and....

You'll also notice a cheat paren below; US residents know that a "stick" is a quarter-pound, and a unit of sale. That, and the eggs-by-number, are more realistic: i'm not scooping out eggs from a container like flour, after all.

125g AP flour

175g fine cornmeal

4g salt

25g sugar

12g baking soda

2 large eggs

260g milk

113g butter (4 oz, or a stick), melted

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm tempted, also, to rewrite all my recipes using baker's percentages.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So who's with me? xxchef, are we going to see some of your best converted recipes?

Absolutely, as time allows. Are we posting the recipes here, in the recipe section, new thread, etc? How do we group them for ease of searching by-weight recipes?

The Big Cheese

BlackMesaRanch.com

My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

BMR on FaceBook

"The Flavor of the White Mountains"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For now, let's just gather them here. We'll likely find other homes for them -- topics specific to the subject, for example -- but I think we'd learn a lot about how these conversions do and don't work if we have specific recipes to share.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Happy to join in here - since I bought my Thermomix I have been doing a lot of converting of my favourite recipes (those that can be made in the machine as well as simply using the scale function on its own) to use in the T-mix since it is so convenient with the built in scale. The scale isn't dead accurate for small amounts unfortunately but as Chris said, sometiems a hybrid method is simple easier. I can use my jewellers gram scale for confirmation of things like spices/b. powder etc.

Llyn Strelau

Calgary, Alberta

Canada

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can only add my experience doing the reverse - weight to US cup and the like measures. It was a huge project when I was a teen with all the women trying to fit in and convert their Austrian baking recipes because when an American asked for one they looked like we were crazy to weigh our ingredients. The most important thing we learned was to be very specific about the ingredients and to make notes after we tested the recipes. For instance all flours and shortenings did not act the same as you can well imagine. Don't even get me started on nuts! I am the proud custodian of the old scale and I am going to think long and hard about who to pass it on to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As some people have pointed out or at least hinted at, agricultural products are not chemicals. They vary from brand to brand, from season to season and age of a product can vary the amounts used in any recipe. Making a recipe consistent isn't synonymous with making it taste good. All it does is assure predictability-for good or bad. There is more to cooking and baking than a recipe. Flour for instance varies in the way it is grown and milled from region to region around the world. 10 grams of AP flour won't mix with X amounts of fat and water the same in Alabama as it does in Oregon,,, or France or Italy. If you know your ingredients and measure them by weight and get excellent results, it is not guaranteed that someone else will get the same results with your recipe.

Edited by Norm Matthews (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As some people have pointed out or at least hinted at, agricultural products are not chemicals. They vary from brand to brand, from season to season and age of a product can vary the amounts used in any recipe. Making a recipe consistent isn't synonymous with making it taste good. All it does is assure predictability-for good or bad. There is more to cooking and baking than a recipe. Flour for instance varies in the way it is grown and milled from region to region around the world. 10 grams of AP flour won't mix with X amounts of fat and water the same in Alabama as it does in Oregon,,, or France or Italy. If you know your ingredients and measure them by weight and get excellent results, it is not guaranteed that someone else will get the same results with your recipe.

But, of course, the volume-measuring of those ingredients, with all its inherent flaws, will only compound the chance of recipe inconsistency compared to weighing.

The Big Cheese

BlackMesaRanch.com

My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

BMR on FaceBook

"The Flavor of the White Mountains"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a question for the staff, is it possible for you guys to edit the original recipe posts to add the weight measurement ingredient list? That might be a cleaner solution for the end users of the recipes. Obviously, you could add a notation about the edit, and perhaps the author of the conversion so we know who to ask questions of if a formula doesn't work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I absolutely agree that weight measurements will be more consistent than volume measures. My main point is you have to determine the measurements. Someone else telling you what works for them isn't a guarantee that you will get the same results any more than measuring by volume. You will get consistent results but not necessarily the same results.

I say again, there is more to making a recipe successful than just getting the ingredients measured correctly.

Edited by Norm Matthews (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Norm, you'll get no disagreement around here! Having said that, I'd rather start with a recipe from Dorie Greenspan or a Society member and tweak that, and I'd rather use weights than volume for accuracy and scalability.

Anyone get out the scale this weekend?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

. . . .

Anyone get out the scale this weekend?

Quite a bit (and today, since I started some bread): made a cake Saturday, and some empanadas yesterday.

What method did you use for the conversion?

I think we should just collect data on the densities of common dry ingredients, sugar solutions, and ingredients specified by the "each." . . . .

I've been using OnlineConversion.com, which does exactly that.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...