Let’s talk for a minute about the snobbery in the baking world. I’m guilty of it myself, having long worked in professional kitchens and bakeries around Ontario. The message from the pros is: if you don’t scale your ingredients you’re not a good baker. Measuring in cups is for amateurs. Measuring by volume is inaccurate. And—dare I say it?—I do believe that Canadians and Americans are looked down on by our counterparts across the pond as being hacks in the kitchen for the way our recipes are written.
Okay fine. If you’re in a professional/commercial kitchen and you’re baking on a large scale for sale and public consumption, yes. Please weigh your ingredients. But honestly, if you’re at home in your own kitchen baking treats for your family and friends by all means bust out the measuring cups and follow your Great Granny’s recipe if that’s what you’re comfortable with. There is a reason why these age old recipes continue to get passed down through the generations. They work and they’re delicious. And if you follow the techniques and instructions in the recipe carefully, they can and do turn out consistently.
Further, there is a reason that home cooks in North America use recipes written in cups/spoons. Writing and publishing recipes in this format makes them widely accessible and convenient. While I am fascinated by and comfortable with baking ratios, your average home cook doesn’t want to learn the science and math behind a recipe—they just want to make the recipe. Those recipes that get passed down through the generations work because they follow the golden ratios of baking. The science has been done for you, making the recipe accessible to all skill levels. In my eye, that’s a good thing.
My simple go-to recipe for Banana Muffins is a great example of trusting the science of a generations-old recipe. It gets passed on because it works. It works because it fits the 2:2:1:1 ratio for quick breads/muffins. It fits the ratio in small batches no matter whether you measure the ingredients with measuring cups or a kitchen scale set to imperial or metric. For the sake of my geeky side, I’ve included a table that shows how this recipe fits the ratio with imperial and metric conversions side by side.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ½ cup white sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup cooking oil or melted butter
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 cup (approx. 3) mashed over-ripe bananas
- In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Make a well in centre.
- In a small bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Mix in cooking oil, milk, and bananas.
- Pour into well and stir just to moisten. Batter will be lumpy.
- Fill lined muffin tins ¾ full.
- Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. (Don’t even get me started on why in Canada we use Celsius for everything except the dials on our ovens. That’s a whole different topic.)
Makes 12-18. Do not over-bake or they will be dry.
|2 parts Flour||1 c. Flour |
1 c. Oats
|4.5 oz. Flour |
3 oz. Oats
|125 g. Flour |
85 g. Oats
|½ c. Sugar||4 oz. Sugar||113 g. Sugar|
|1 tsp. Baking Soda + 2 tsp. Baking Powder + ½ tsp. Salt|
|2 parts Liquid||¼ c. Milk |
1 c. Mashed Banana
|2 oz. Milk |
10.5 oz. Mashed Banana
|59 mL Milk |
300 g. Mashed Banana
|Note: The banana is replacing the majority of the liquid as well as half of the butter of the ratio.|
|1 part Butter||¼ c. Oil/Butter||2 oz. Oil/Butter||57 g. Oil/Butter|
|1 part Egg||2 large Eggs||4 oz. Eggs||113 g. Eggs|
My aim when I share a recipe is to clear away the snobbery and make baking an enjoyable and accessible activity no matter where you live, what your skill set is, or what equipment you have in your kitchen. How you do it is not important; whether you end up with a tasty result is the target. So measure in cups, grams, or ounces, whatever you are comfortable with, and don’t let anyone’s snobbery stop you from baking your heart happy.