The Simple Things

Kitchen scales



“Many a sponge has collapsed due to slapdash measuring”

Your first kitchen scales purchase is a rite of passage, marking the transition from slap-it-all-in-and-seehow-it turns-out cooking to actually following a recipe. Suddenly a world of accuracy looms. Whereas measuremen­ts stated in tablespoon­s and cups can be fudged with existing homeware, you can’t dodge grams and millilitre­s – these are units that need to be weighed. You can get away with guessing amounts by eye if you are a Michelin-starred chef but probably not if you’re rustling up your first Yorkshire pudding.

This is especially true, of course, when it comes to baking. Many a sponge has collapsed due to slapdash measuring, and many a loaf lain heavily in the tin, the result of casual dispensing. The moment that you realise that the process of adding carefully weighed ingredient­s into a bowl is not a chore but an essential and satisfying part of transformi­ng flour, sugar and butter into a toothsome, beautifull­y risen delight, is a culinary coming of age.

Man has always strived to measure things, of course: the first massmarket instrument to do this was the balance scale. Consisting of a pivoted horizontal lever with arms of equal length with a weighing pan suspended from each, these are the scales associated with justice and the astrologic­al star sign Libra . They make an excellent symbol for fair play but are not so good when it comes to quantifyin­g self-raising flour.

Better is the mechanical scale. This has a spring which moves the hands of a dial to reveal the weight of the ingredient­s in the dish above. Requiring no batteries and being easy to read, mechanical scales have endured for decades and are pleasingly retro in style. Accuracy can be forfeited, however, especially when measuring smaller quantities.

Which brings us to digital scales, probably the most useful of all. Able to switch swiftly between grams and ounces, weigh both dry and wet ingredient­s, no matter how small, and with easy-to-read LCD displays, they are the chosen device of chefs and anyone else with a grown-up approach to cooking.

 ??  ?? Irene Handl, never far from a mechanical scale
Irene Handl, never far from a mechanical scale

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