photo from appleblossomcottage.blogspot.com
From The Viand Zine, Issue 2, 12 May 2007
North Americans measure cooking ingredients by volume, rather than weight. For example, most of the world might call for a recipe with "250 g flour" whereas an American recipe might require "1/2 cup flour". I've often wondered about the difference between densely packing that cup of flour for making bread (have you seen our video yet? http://www.viand.net/doughs.html) vs. just filling up the cup and leveling off the top. Now I know that the European's avoid the problem: no matter how densely the flour is compressed, "250 g flour" will be the same amount of flour, no matter what. In practice, though, that US measure of flour seems to work well enough, so maybe the difference doesn't actually matter. As I think back, I recall a friend of mine who was really into the gadgetry of cooking had a scale that could be reset after each item was added. So "3 cups flour" might be added one at a time using the scale to let you know when you had enough and the scaled zeroed out to then be followed by "2 tsp salt" - but now I know, though, that a different recipe would be needed for measuring ingredients. Cups and teaspoons can't be used, only a recipe in grams (or ounces/pounds) would work with that scale!
Wikipedia addresses the "densely packed" flour issue by making mention of Special Instructions commonly found in recipes like "Firmly Packed" or "2 Heaping Cups of Flour" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooking_weights_and_measures). Or in this case, just watch the bread video mentioned above to see how we do it and in 10 minutes of labor, you'll have the most amazing bread!
Duro's cooking trivia of the day:
1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._customary_units), who knew? (ok maybe you did smarty-pants 🙂