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Units, units, units

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Jeff Grossman

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Units, units, units

by Jeff Grossman » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:21 am

I am reading a very chefly recipe for canele. Every ingredient is given by weight. I understand the rationale but this is really inconvenient for shopping... how much is 1 lb, 10.5 oz of milk? Or my favorite, 3.5 oz of egg yolk?

I'm having to trust other people's ideas about measurement just to get a ballpark.

Anybody else use recipes like this?
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Barb Downunder

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Re: Units, units, units

by Barb Downunder » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:02 am

Ah Jeff. Yes I see the difficulty, I suspect that this recipe is from a commercial recipe, rescaled. In baking particularly precision can be critical for reproducible result.and as a scientist I want precision for some recipes. Also I have a diploma in hospitality, and when we worked the kitchen we had to use standardised recipes where you had to be able to scale recipes, so,weight is the best standard.
I particularly dislike recipes that mix and mismatch weights, cups, spoons. I also like metric!! No, i love metric!
One onion? S,m,l? And my small may be your large!
1 egg? 55, 60, 70 g?
Experienced cooks can usually wing it for many things but with something new, or as in your case a very particular baked item, really the only way IMHO is precise weights. Which leaves you hanging!
If you don’t have a digital kitchen scale, lash out.
So the yolk is close to 31% of the weight of the egg which can help how many to buy. You need around 9 ounces of eggs.

Or, just find a more user friendly recipe!

But yes, I can relate to this type of recipe.

Ah canele.
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Re: Units, units, units

by Jenise » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:32 am

I hate recipes like that. And I find it confusing because an ounce, for instance, can be either volume or weight.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Units, units, units

by Jeff Grossman » Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:31 pm

Jenise: Well, in this case, the word is unambiguous because they said everything here is a weight. For exactly the reasons given by...

Barb: Thanks. The recipe also gave me a lecture on why to prefer cake flour to all-purpose (again, consistency of the result).

The genesis of all this is that my favorite canele place has stopped making them, or so they told me recently. I know the fuss with the expensive copper molds but I'd recently seen a variant muffin tin that had canele-shaped cups. Brilliant, I thought, maybe not quite so good but much cheaper, easier to use, and probably good enough.

I went hunting for a well-reputed canele recipe, and I ended up with this one partly because of the raves and partly because of another lecture in it: that the crispy shell really develops in the first couple of minutes that the pastry is exposed to the air after coming out of the tin, not so much while in the tin. That had led them to experiment with baking an entire batch of canele batter in a cast iron pan. And that is even more brilliant: the heat retention properties of cast iron compensate for the heat conductivity of copper. And, as hostess, I'd be happy with one large crusty "cake" to slice and plate.

So, here I am asking Google to weigh milk for me. :roll:
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Re: Units, units, units

by Howie Hart » Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:36 am

Jeff Grossman wrote:So, here I am asking Google to weigh milk for me. :roll:

Milk weighs 1.034 g/cm3, which is 8.61 lbs. per gallon or 8.61 oz. per cup.
Regarding conversion programs, I've always liked this one: https://joshmadison.com/convert-for-windows/
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Re: Units, units, units

by Jeff Grossman » Sat Aug 11, 2018 12:17 pm

Thanks, Howie.
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Re: Units, units, units

by Mike Filigenzi » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:02 pm

I'd not heard of canele until you posted, Jeff. I'm sure I've seen them but I didn't know the name and I'm pretty sure I've never had one.

After looking at some recipes (particularly the Serious Eats one), I have to tip my hat to you for even trying. These look to be quite tricky to make right. They're the kind of thing I'll wait to work on until after I retire. I would appreciate the precision involved with weighing everything but that's certainly a pain when it comes to buying ingredients.

Did you see that there are silicon molds for these? Cheaper than copper and it sounds like they work well.
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Re: Units, units, units

by Jeff Grossman » Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:50 am

I've heard that the silicone molds do not work well at all.
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Re: Units, units, units

by Bill Spohn » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:05 pm

I enjoy old cook books and you get a wide array of measurements in those as well as a certain vagueness (see Elizabeth David, for example). Some of these might be useful:

Butter the size of a walnut = 2 tablespoons or a "lump"
Butter the size of an egg = 1/4 cup
Coffee cup = 1 cup
Dash = 1/8 teaspoon
Dessert spoon = 1 1/2 teaspoons
60 Drops = 1 teaspoon of liquid
Gill = 1/2 cup
Pinch = 1/16 or 1/8 teaspoon
Salt spoon = 1/4 teaspoon
Teacup = 3/4 cup
Tin cup = 1 cup
Tumblerful = 2 cups
Wineglass = 1/2 gill or 1/4 cup

There are also drams, scruples (which we lawyers are reputed not to possess) and pecks. Not to mention long defunct ingredients measured in packets or leaves (gelatin).
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Re: Units, units, units

by Jeff Grossman » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:50 pm

I can still get gelatin in sheets.
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Re: Units, units, units

by Bill Spohn » Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:51 am

But are all sheets the same....(they are probably close enough, I expect).
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Re: Units, units, units

by Jeff Grossman » Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:19 am

I've just done some reading on the topic of gelatin. No, all sheets are not the same. The base unit of measure is called "bloom strength", for which there is a rigorous-sounding test (although the details seem pretty vague to me): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom_(test)

Sheets are sold in 'silver' and 'gold' which correspond to lower and higher bloom. This is different from the granulated kind sold in packets. Conversions between the two should really be calculated in bloom values but, as nobody knows those for certain, folks just wing it... between 3 and 5 sheets equal a packet. (David Lebovitz uses 3.5:1, for example.)

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