Make Great Pizza: How to Use a Digital Scale
First things first: How did we get into this pickle where most of the world uses grams and only a small sliver of the world doesn’t? Cups, ounces and pounds are known as imperial units of measurement and America is only one of three countries to use them (Libya and Myanmar are the other two). When a large swath of countries agreed on systems of measurement with the Treaty of the Metre in 1875, independence-seeking Americans still wanted to distinguish themselves from the UK and Europe. So they made their own system.
In 1896, Massachusetts-based culinary expert Fannie Farmer included American measurements in her cookbook, “The Boston Cooking School Cook Book.” From there, they were widely put into use in home kitchens and became a tradition. While the rest of the world pulled out their scales to bake a cake, Americans pulled out a clanking set of nested metal cups. And 150 years later, here we are.
So if you’ve used cups your whole life, why switch? It’s mostly about accuracy (but not having to wash a whole bunch of different-sized cups helps too). Working with a scale instead of cups or tablespoons helps you get the same ratio of ingredients every time. There’s no guessing if your cup was packed as tightly or loosely as the recipe writer’s cup. Even if you’re an experienced baker, consider this: King Arthur Flour and Cook’s Illustrated recipes have a 20 gram difference between the amount of flour listed in a cup!
Fluff and sift all you want: Ascale is always going to tell you the exact weight you’re working with.
Did you know? Some recipes ask you to “tare” the scale before measuring additional ingredients. Tare weight (also called “unladen weight”) is the weight of an empty container, and it stems from the 15th century French word “tare,” which means “wastage in goods, deficiency, or imperfection.”
There are a few things you need to know before using a scale for the first time. Here are our top tips:
- Containers: You’ll need some containers in which to put your ingredients. That’s it! No other measuring devices. You can use tupperware, ramekins, bowls or even leftover quart containers from restaurant takeouts.
- Units of measurement: Make sure your scale is set to the correct unit of measurement. Our Dual Platform Digital Scales offer grams, ounces, fluid ounces and milliliters.
- Measurement conversion: Digital scales are great if you’re not familiar with various units of measurement. With the touch of a button you can instantly convert measurements across units.
- Tare out the container weight: To get the weight of ingredients, you’ll need to place your container on the scale and then hit the tare button. The tare button subtracts the weight of the container so the number that appears when you add your ingredient is only equal to the weight of the ingredients, not the weight of the ingredients plus the container. In other words, it resets the scale to zero so you’re just measuring the ingredients you put inside the container. (Psst: remember to press the button again if you need to weigh something without the container or if you change containers!)
- Turn-on tare: If you’re the kind of person who likes eliminating extra steps, put your container on the scale before turning it on. It will start at zero weight!
- Weigh ingredients separately: We always recommend first weighing out ingredients in a separate container before adding them to the rest of the mix. It’s a bummer to accidentally add far too much water to your flour and then have to start your pizza dough over. We know. We’ve been there.
- Weighing ingredients together: We’d be lying if we didn’t say that sometimes when we’re in a rush we have been known to tare out ingredients in a large container after measuring them before adding and measuring the next one. It’s living dangerously, but it’s always nice to know the hack. See tip number four again and do what we say, not what we’ve often regretted.
- Be precise: Know how accurate you need to be. Ooni Dual Platform Digital Scales offer two levels of accuracy: one that’s accurate to a gram, and the other that measures to a tenth of a gram. Use the more sensitive platform on the scale for tiny things, like small amounts of yeast or salt.
That’s it. Enjoy your delicious pizza dough!