Regular readers will know that I am a bit of a broken record when it comes to demanding that recipes are written with ingredients measured by weight. It’s easier to use these recipes and they deliver more accurate results. End of story.
No matter how much progress we make on this front there will still be about a century of North American recipes out there with only volume measures. Some of them–like pretty much every recipe for pie worth eating–are worth protecting from obscelence.
Also, I recognise that baby steps are important for those who find reassurance in the familiarity of old recipes. To that end I know that there are some recipe writers who will continue to handcuff the rest of us by catering to this market.
Luckily, I was given the perfect gateway drug for the volume-addicted. Taylor makes a measuring cup that is also a scale.
As well as a traditional scale mode (that switches easily between ounces and grams) this gadget has five other modes for different ingredients. Water, milk, oil, sugar, and flour are all preset. So, for instance, if sugar is selected the display will read (in close to real-time) how much of it has been poured into the cup in cups, ounces, or grams. This feature makes it marginally more easy to use than a regular scale because the bowl is built in. Using those traditional volume recipes are easier because the scale does the conversion to weight for you and displays in fractions of a cup as it weighs.
Note, though, that these conversions are based on presets that assume a particular weight for a given volume and may be different than what your recipe’s writer used. For instance, in the case of all-purpose flour the manual states a factory default of of 0.6kg/L or 125 grams per metric cup or 142 grams (5 ounces) per US cup. Cook’s Illustrated uses a 5-ounce US cup but some sources have a lighter one and amateur recipe writers who use the scoop-and-level method (versus the preferred spoon-into-the-cup-measure-and-then-level method) may be basing their work on heavier cups of flour.
My only complaints are minor and fall in the usability category. I would have liked to see the display positioned so that it can be read from a higher angle. That way tasks like measuring water from the tap could be accomplished with less crouching.
There’s at least one comment on Amazon from the self-identified oldster set that classifies the display as “easy to read”.
Also, I would have liked the buttons (power/tare, mode, and unit) to be marked in a contrasting colour so that they’re easier to find.
That math involved in converting the presets a couple paragraphs up seems like confusing mumbo-jumbo to me as well. Another good reason that all recipes should be presented with gram measures at least as an alternative. In the meantime the Taylor Digital Measuring Cup is a great tool to help with the transition.