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(, Wed 29 Nov 2006, 16:33)
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Whenever baking bread (or whatever) NEVER measure the volume of water in a jug.
Measuring jugs, even those pricey Pyrex ones are wildly inaccurate.
For much improved accuracy (and thusly better bread) weigh it instead.
350ml of water weighs 350g.
try measuring it and check the results by weighing if you doubt the difference it will make.
(, Wed 2 Jun 2010, 0:52, 47 replies, latest was 12 years ago)
But what if you're not at standard temperature?
If you are somewhere that's hotter than 20C (or whatever it is) then you'll have less water than you need, surely?
(, Wed 2 Jun 2010, 17:45, Reply)
but by a tiny degree. expansion of water is something like 8% over 100C so maybe 2% over 20C? it's not a straight mathematical progression if my memory serves me correctly.
so imagine you're preparing the dough at 45C not 25C (STP?) for the sake of your scenario?
compare that % expansion to the scale on a jug being incorrectly positioned by 5mm vertically which i discovered equates to about 50ml on my jug.
that's 1/7th of the 350ml in question, which is about 14%?
that, sir, will fuck your dough right up.
trust me or not, go check it out for yourself.
a set of cheap digital scales (£7 from Lidl) are a shitload more accurate than a £20 pyrex jug.
(, Wed 2 Jun 2010, 20:45, Reply)
I was teasing a little.
I don't doubt that you are correct I was merely taking the idea of precision a step further.
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 17:29, Reply)
Is bread really that precise?
My parents bake bread with 1000% guess work. Admittedly that's backed up with many years of baking, but they taught me to bake their bread the same way in one go...

I suppose it maybe depends on what bread you're baking - super fluffy white loaves might need the extra care, but my favourite bread is my parents (and when I can be arsed, my) bodgey stuff...

But then I regularly guess/throw in some extra at all my cooking... That said, I usually get compliments rather than cursing...
picasaweb.google.com/oppresswomen/MyCakesD# For some fine examples :)
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 19:26, Reply)
it's simply about whether or not you're after consistency or not.
i would suggest that to be able to claim you have mastered something then you need to be able to prove you can reproduce the results time after time.
i would also suggest that the "bodgey" approach will not tend to produce this.
no offence intended.
i only tend to use this degree of precision with baking and breadmaking.
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 22:38, Reply)
Very good point...
Consistency is important, it should always be enjoyable. But there can (if you want there to be) a large range of 'right' that can be called consistent. Depending a little on cake, but usually I can get consistent looking and tasting results with the bodgey approach. That's what I mean by mastering the proportions (if I mentioned that at all?!) - if the proportions are good then the rest works every time.

For bread making I will confess that I like inconsistency, as then it's like you did a different recipe every time :P I do make a mental note of what biases affect the results and how, so I can keep making a loaf if it's particularly good :)

Really want to do lots of baking now! I forget how much I enjoy it :)
(, Mon 7 Jun 2010, 21:07, Reply)
Or cooking in space?!

(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 15:17, Reply)
i didn't think of that.
you got me fair and square.
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 16:56, Reply)
you can use springs to work out the mass
but you'll need a stopwatch and to know the Young's modulus of the springs
or some kind of container with markings on the side to display the volume of a liquid that was placed inside it
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 20:06, Reply)
Or alternatively
use a two pan balance which measure mass rather than weight. Things have no weight in zero-g but they still have mass. 350ml liquid will still balance a 350g mass on the other side. Although, you may need to create some centripetal force to keep the stuff on the balance itself.
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 21:42, Reply)
The jugs are not inaccurate
it depends on where you stand.
Put the jug on the counter top and bend down to look at it.

Or buy one of these - www.lakeland.co.uk/oxo-good-grips!REG-angled-measuring-jug/F/keyword/measuring+jug/product/2297
(, Wed 2 Jun 2010, 22:56, Reply)
angle of view is only one factor. vertical position of scale is more significant.
and i think we would find that weight is a more accurate method still.
try this wee experiment...
using a jug (whatever jug you fancy) measure 350ml of water. then weigh that water and see how close you were. then try weighing 350g of water.
you can add water 1g at a time if using scales, try doing that with a jug.
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 8:31, Reply)
I can't see parallax errors
being that significant.

But it might be worth remembering to measure to the bottom of the meniscus
(, Sat 5 Jun 2010, 1:17, Reply)
just realise that whether it's 340 or 350 or 360g isn't that important, and just do it by judging the texture of the dough.
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 10:12, Reply)
maybe 10ml either way won't make that much of a difference but 50ml will, see my earlier reply.
the water ratio really can be quite crucial, depending on what type of bread or loaf you are trying to bake.
do you actually bake much bread?
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 11:25, Reply)
Actually yes
And I measure the water in a measuring jug but don't slop it all in, I use my judgement and sometimes add a little more, sometimes don't put all of it in. That's pretty much how I do all my cooking - the recipe is a guide, not the law.
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 11:46, Reply)
i bake bread pretty much every day, often twice.
whilst i can agree with you that a recipe is a guide not the law i must stress to you the point i made about the type of bread or loaf you are trying to bake requiring different water ratios.
there's a world of difference between the average homemade loaf and properly accomplished breadmaking.
it's like any craft, there's the way a lot of folk do it then there's the way it's done expertly. technique, quantities etc.
a lot of people think a loaf of bread is just a loaf of bread.
i used to be a professional chef, now i do it for joy not money.
i learned my breadmaking from richard bertinet.
if you don't believe what i say about breadmaking then you sure as fluff should believe him. the man knows more about bread and breadmaking than most people know about any one thing.
maybe i'm a bit obsessed with bread?
anyway all this came from me pointing out the fact that weighing water is a more accurate form of measurement than a measuring jug.
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 12:00, Reply)
....I bake bread 14 times a day at least. And my bread is used as the Standard Bread stored at the Ministry Of Standards so they have a bread to compare against when measuring things like crunchy or bounciness or weevil content.

I personally only ever use fresh rain to moisten my bread dough, and I work out the measurement by leaving my dough outside in a forest on a platter of my hair and I pray to the God of Bread to bless my dough and he spills his watery yeasty seed upon it in exactly the right quantities to achieve the perfect breaddiness.

I then fuck it and slap nutella on it for my tea.
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 13:24, Reply)
that's quite funny actually!
extra points for effort.
i like the bit about the hair-platter.
yeah, i get quite excited about bread. i guess i maybe take it too seriously.
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 13:42, Reply)
Well I wasn't trying to be mean...
....just seemed that some oneupmanship was going on and I wanted to play. My entire experience of bread making as been throwing a pile of stuff in a bread maker and marvelling at the inedibility of the wheat based brick that resulted many hours later.

Oh and my girlfriend once shallow fried a chocolate brownie (by substituting all the other liquids for more oil).
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 13:49, Reply)
yeah, i can see how would be interpreted that way!
you made me laugh, at your teasing and at myself too!
the simple fact is that i do bake a lot of bread and i was only trying to point out the way we can all accidentally use poor technique in the things we do.
and now i hate myself for being a technique nazi.
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 13:54, Reply)
Well I only bake about once a week
and then usually with onions or tomatoes or olives or something else in, so not just standard loaves. And I note that at my local bakery they also just slosh water into their enormous bread making machine with gay abandon, and not a single set of digitial scales in site.
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 15:03, Reply)
i doubt they're only baking on or two loaves at a time therefore any error in measuring will be reduced %wise.
i also doubt that they don't measure their water.

if making a batch of dough for say 10 loaves, using 5kg of flour, that would call for 3.5l of water for a regular dough.
applying the same maths as i used above the error would equate to 500ml of water too much.
if using a container of a known volume, even if not a "measuring jug" just a vessel you have previously calibrated with eg a 1l bottle, even if you are out by a relatively large volume you would struggle to be out by a whole half litre.

perhaps my original post was a little ambiguous. perhaps i should have made it clear that i was referring to domestic rather than commercial baking. although to be fair to myself i did specify 350ml/350g which is obviously not large scale.

you hit it right on the head mind you when you refer to how they "just slosh water into their enormous bread making machine". hardly the kind of craft baking i do myself.
also i should point out that i hardly ever bake "just standard loaves" myself. the dough is a starting point. i could list a dozen or more loaves that use a strong white dough as a starter, without touching on sourdough or rye or wholemeal or whatever.
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 15:26, Reply)
If you think it's bad for water- try flour!
Agreed 100%- weigh everything. Even if your scales are wrong, everything will be measured wrong to the same degree, so the error will not matter.

I used to be a baker and it would amaze me when I saw US recipes measuring EVERYTHING in cups. That's measuring powders. By volume. The difference between the density at top and bottom of a bag of flour is around 30%. Mental yankee bastards
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 14:34, Reply)
plus they never seem to agree on how bg a cup is.

(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 15:14, Reply)
Well, as standard a cup should be 250ml...
..But several books disagree :(

Again, weighing ftw!
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 15:25, Reply)
I us cup = 8 fl oz
1/2 of a US pint, which is 16 fl oz.

(Ours is 20. This difference is also why US cars seem to get even crappier gas mileage than they really do - their gallon only 80% as big as ours.)
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 15:55, Reply)
Same Error?
Depends is the error in your scales linear or not? Shifting the zero point by say 10g makes a bigger error in weighing 100g than 1000g and will screw up your bread :-)

Now what happens if the spring in your scales (old school) or the magic electrical pixies (modern) is not providing a linear response across its whole weighing range?

Would sir be interested in some calibration weights? (Apologies for pedantry)
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 18:21, Reply)
It's far easier
to just drink the requisite amount of lager, then piss over the dough.
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 14:59, Reply)
What about fluids other than water?
How am I to know the density of cream, future boy?

(I do like your weighing idea.)
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 16:31, Reply)
not really sure about the weighing approach with regards to cream but i guess it's probably not as big a deal as the water...
on account of water being by far and away the greatest volume.
maybe we could find the answer on the interweb?
future boy?
old twat more like ;-)
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 22:42, Reply)
believe it or not
but we have our finest brains on this even as we speak
(, Sun 6 Jun 2010, 16:13, Reply)
interweb to teh rescue!
(, Sun 6 Jun 2010, 21:29, Reply)
Invest in a bar optic which will measure out a statutory measure of water.
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 23:34, Reply)
Or alternatively
a burette
(, Sat 5 Jun 2010, 1:18, Reply)
Ahh but what if your scales were bust and you needed 400ml
and only had an exactly 500ml and exactly 300ml container.
Could you do it? and would it be more accurate?
(, Fri 4 Jun 2010, 23:53, Reply)
First you fill the 300ml container and pour the contents into the 500ml container. Then you refill the 300ml and pour into the 500ml until it is full. This should leave you with 100ml.
(, Sat 5 Jun 2010, 0:42, Reply)
This wouldn't be very accurate
if you were trying to perform this procedure during your first horse riding lesson and your horse has just been spooked and is now in full gallop towards some trees.

What then eh?
(, Sat 5 Jun 2010, 1:20, Reply)
What about the water content of the flour?
This is a variable I haven't seen discussed in this thread, and it is significant especially where I live (the Canadian MidWest) which can vary between bone dry and monsoon damp.

Take that, measurers!
(, Sat 5 Jun 2010, 16:38, Reply)
simply move to somewhere with less variable flour moisture content!
take that, canadian mid-wester!

but yeah, the flour moisture content could be an issue i guess.
invest in a flour-dehumidifying machine?
it would be best to be able to establish the water content simply and easily, in the domestic kitchen.
maybe a b3tan could devise some simple test for us?
(, Sat 5 Jun 2010, 17:42, Reply)
Elizabeth David says you should warm your flour in a cool oven before use
She mostly talks about doing this so the yeast gets a headstart, but I think it also allows for more accurate measuring of the mass of flour to water, since the flour comes out of the oven very dry. Except that, given you generally want to warm the bowl as well, you need to keep your scales tared with the weight of the bowl (or, I suppose, know the weight of the bowl).

In my experience, an electric fan oven is great for this, and practically the same equipment I used to use when measuring moisture contents of samples in the lab. In the lab, I had the oven at 100 C. At home, out of deference to the bowl, I tend to use about 50 C, maybe a little more.
(, Sat 19 Jun 2010, 0:41, Reply)
I think your over complicating things here. You don’t need to measure any ingredients.

Tap out some flour in a bowel, then add the yeasty water, mix and add more flour / water until it reaches the right consistency. This is easily checked by dropping a steel ball bearing of a standard 25mm diameter from a height of 5000mm into the dough, and measuring the penetration. Obviously temperature must be rigorously controlled throughout.
(, Mon 7 Jun 2010, 9:20, Reply)
Holy innuendoes batman!

(, Mon 7 Jun 2010, 10:48, Reply)
I tried tapping out some flour in a bowel
But my wife objected in the end and said it made her poo go like croissants
(, Tue 8 Jun 2010, 16:33, Reply)
i use a cheap plastic jug
but because i always use the same jug, i get consistent results from my breadmaker machine. when i make pizza dough by hand i just measure amounts with a teacup.
(, Fri 11 Jun 2010, 22:56, Reply)
breadmaker machine pfft.
not really baking bread then.
(, Sat 12 Jun 2010, 0:08, Reply)
I am completely in favour of this.
I weigh all my ingredients straight into the bread-maker tin balanced on digital scales. It saves washing up teaspoons, tablespoons and measuring jugs.
(, Sun 13 Jun 2010, 2:12, Reply)

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