More and more in recent times I’ve been asked for our recipes in cups measurements and I thought it was about time I explain why we don’t (and won’t…) and use grams instead.
Thanks to our good friend Google Analytics, I can see the majority of people whom read Baking with Granny are based in the UK (over 80% to be precise!) and for our British neighbours, the fact that we use grams here is probably of no surprise. But the metric system is causing confusion to our readers in the States and beyond, so I thought I’d explain the reasons why we actually use grams in our recipes.
The metric system is what is taught in the UK.
In other words, from the moment you go to school, everything is in millimetres, centimetres, millilitres, celsius, grams and kilograms. It hasn’t always been this way and Granny remembers the change well.
It was throughout the 1970s that the UK moved from imperial measurements to metrication, in line with most other countries in Europe to keep universal units with trading across the continent. It was during this change however that Granny attended college to learn the technical’s of her baking knowledge – this means she had to learn both imperial and metric ways, with some of her recipes still being read in imperial today (which I convert before publishing here).
Now, despite the UK being a metric country, we’re by no means perfect, so you might still notice the occasional imperial reference (hello, trays and tins still measured in inches!) but when it comes to ingredients, it will always be grams and millilitres here.
Grams are more accurate.
This? This is the biggie! In comparison to cup measurements, grams are undoubtedly much more accurate.
For starters, cup measurements aren’t a universal thing. You get differences between what a cup actually is from the US, to the UK, to Australia… Not to mention that a cup of flour is not measured the same as a cup of sugar, or a cup of butter. And don’t even get me started on liquid cups!
Cups leave a lot of room for errors and interpretation; with how well packed your flour is, what sugar you’re actually using and how well your level off the top of your cup…all giving room for error, effecting how much of your ingredient you’re actually using. Plus you might get the perfect cup measurement one day but not the next: human interpretation.
As Granny has always said, “baking is a science”. Basically, you’re using a selection of elements (ingredients) and wanting them to react (bake) to give you a certain outcome. When you don’t have the accurate quantities of elements, you’re setting yourself up for potential disaster.
Of course there’s some ingredients that won’t make a massive difference to your bake if you’re a little over or under in quantities (eg. nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruits…) but for the staple ingredients – flour, sugar, butter, eggs – it’s crucial you have it right.
To break it down: a gram is a gram and always will be a gram. A cup could be anything from a few grams over, to 10, 20, 30…grams over what your recipe intended.
Will you provide conversions of your recipes to cups/ounces?
No. As per above we don’t feel cups are an accurate unit measurement so won’t provide ingredients or recipes that rely on them.
As for ounces, I have considered using a recipe plugin which will allow your to switch between grams and ounces, using a computerised conversion (which would also allow you to increased/decrease serving sizes to suit your needs). This is something that may appear in future but for the time being, Baking with Granny will continue to list recipes in the metric system.
Should you wish to use cups or ounces, I suggest looking for an online unit converter (or mobile app) to which you can input and convert the ingredient amounts for yourself, to your preferred unit of measurement.
Your recipes use the metric system when Granny would have used imperial – that isn’t staying true to the original recipe?!
As mentioned above, Granny actually attended college during the UK change from imperial to metric, so in terms of her recipe archive we have a mixture of both.
Many (if not most) of Granny’s recipes are also from her days of working in the bakeries and although we try to keep as much authenticity to the recipes as possible, there’s often factors that don’t allow for this 100%.
Quantities is a massive factor; before even considering a recipe for here on Baking with Granny, I need to reduce the quantities from being intended to sell in a bakery, to being just enough for making and eating at home.
Next is ingredient availability: There’s often ingredients listed which are not available in your everyday supermarket (eg. synthetic cream, fresh yeast, eggs measured in millilitres as opposed to actual egg numbers…).
Finally is the unit measurements; as mentioned, these can be in metric or imperial. As opposed to keeping the authenticity of each individual recipe and having a mish-mash of different units used here on Baking with Granny, I decided early on that they would all be listed in the metric system for ease and to reflect the fact we are in the UK; which has used the metric system since the 1970s.
I don’t have kitchen scales.
Then I highly recommend you invest in a set!
Digital scales are so easy to use and something I think every kitchen should have. Most have the option to change between metric and imperial measurements, as well as setting the scales back to zero with each ingredient you add to your bowl – even when you leave your spoon in the bowl or add a sift!
You don’t need to invest in any fancy or expensive either. Mine were less that £10 and picked up during my supermarket shop.
Of course, if you have a set of analogue scales these will also do the job and are what Granny used for many years.