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Basics of Cake Making – Formulas and Measurements


Bakers often talk about formulas more than recipes. If this sounds more like a food processing facility than a chemistry lab, that’s with good reason. Both in the scientific precision of the procedures and in the complex reactions that take place during mixing and baking, the bakery is much like a chemistry laboratory.


Ingredients are almost always measured in the oven, rather than measured, because measuring by weight is more accurate. The accuracy of measurement, as we said, is essential in the store. Unlike home baking recipes, a professional baker’s recipe doesn’t call for 6 cups of flour, for example.

To show yourself the importance of weight instead of measuring by volume, measure a cup of flour in two ways:

(a) Sift some flour and gently scoop it into a rough dough. Combine and add heavy flour.

(b) In the same measure, take some un-kneaded flour and pack it lightly. level

Take the flour. Notice the difference. No wonder home recipes are so controversial!

A baker’s term for weighing ingredients is weighing.

The following ingredients, and only these ingredients, can sometimes be measured by volume, at the rate of 1 pint per pound or 1 liter per kilogram:

o Water o Milk o Eggs

Volume measurement is usually used when measuring water for small or medium sized breads. The results are generally good. However, when accuracy is critical, it’s better to go heavy. This is because a pint of water actually weighs a little more than a pound, or about 16.7 oz. (This number varies with water temperature.)

For convenience, liquid volume measures are often used when making products other than baked goods—such as sauces, syrups, puddings, and puddings.

Units of Measure

The measurement system used in the United States is very complex. Even those who have used the system all their lives sometimes have trouble remembering things like how many ounces flow in a square foot and how many feet are in a mile.

Metric system

The United States is the only major country that uses the complex system of measurement that we have just described. Other countries use a much simpler system called the metric system.

Abbreviations of US Units of Measure used

pound (lb)

ounce (oz)




wet pepper (fl oz)



inches (in)

foot (ft)

In the metric system, there is a basic unit for each type of measurement:

Gram is the basic unit of weight.

Liter is the basic unit of volume.

The meter is the basic unit of length.

Celsius is the basic unit of temperature.

Larger or smaller units can only be made by multiplying or dividing by 10, 100,

1000, etc. These divisions are defined by prefixes. The ones you need

The knowledge is:

kilo- = 1000

decision- = 1D10 or 0.1

centi- = 1D100 or 0.01

milli- = 1D1000 or 0.001

Formulas and Measurements

Metric Units

Basic units

Quantity Unit Abbreviation

gram weight g

volume liter L

meter length m

degrees Celsius °C

Division and multiplication

Prefix / Example Meaning Abbreviation

kilo- 1000 k

kg 1000 grams kg

decision- 1D10 d

deciliter 0.1 liter dL

centi- 1D100 c

centimeter 0.01 meter cm

milli- 1D1000 m

millimeter 0.001 meter mm

Metric Conversion

Many people think that learning the metric system is much more difficult than it really is. This is because they think of metric units in terms of US units. They read that there are 28.35 grams in an ounce and are immediately convinced that they will never be able to learn metric. Don’t worry you can convert US units to metric units and vice versa. This is a very important point to remember, especially if you think the metric system is difficult to learn. The reason for this is simple. You will usually work in one system or the other. You will rarely, if ever, have to switch from one to the other. (There may be an exception if you have a tool based on one system and want to use a formula written in another.) Many people today own imported cars and repair them with metric tools without worrying about how many millimeters are in an inch. are in Similarly, if and when American bakeries and kitchens switch to the metric system, American cooks and bakers will use scales that measure in grams and kilograms, volume measures in liters and deciliters, and thermometers that measure in degrees Celsius, and they will use formulas that show these units. They won’t care how many grams are in an ounce. To work with metric units, it helps to get a feel for how big the units are. The following equivalents may be used to find metric units. They are not real conversion factors.

A kilo is a little over 2 pounds.

A gram is about 1D30 oz. Half a spoon of flour from a


A liter is slightly more than a quarter.

A deciliter is slightly less than half a cup.

A centiliter is about 2 tsp.

A meter is slightly more than 3 ft.

An inch is about 3D8 inches.

0°C is the freezing point of water (32°F).

100°C is the boiling point of water (212°F).

An increase or decrease of 1 degree Celsius is equal to 2

degrees Fahrenheit.

Metric Formulas and Recipes

American industry will probably adopt the metric system one day. Many recipe writers are already eager to get their heads around it and print the metric equivalents. As a result, you will find recipes that call for 454g of flour, 28.35g of butter, or a cooking temperature of 191°C. No wonder people fear the metric system! Kitchens in metric countries don’t work with such impractical numbers any more than we normally use numbers like 1 lb 11D4 oz of flour, 2.19 oz of butter, or a baking temperature of 348°F. which is simple and practical. If you have the chance to look at a French cookbook, you’ll see nice, round numbers like 1 kg, 200 g, and 4 dL.

The metric measurements in the formulas in this book are NOT equivalent to the US measurements given next to them. You should think of the metric part of the formulas as separate formulas with yields that are close but not the same as the US formula yields. . It is necessary to use rough, impractical numbers to give exact equivalents. If you have metric equipment, use metric units, and if you have US equipment, use US units. You should rarely worry about switching between the two. For the most part, the overall yield of the metric formulas in this book approximates the yield of the US formulas while keeping the ingredient proportions the same. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to keep the ratios exactly the same because the US system is not base-tenths like the metric system. In some cases, metric quantities produce slightly different results due to different parameters, but these differences are usually very small.

The principle of using a baker’s scale is simple: the scale must balance before placing the weights, and it must balance again after the measurement. The following procedure applies to the most commonly used type of baking measure.

1. Place the measuring scoop or other container to the left of the measuring cup.

2. Measure the balance by placing the bearings on the right side

and/or by adjusting the ounce weight on the horizontal bar.

3. Set the scale to the desired weight by placing the weights on the right side

and/or by ounce weight load.

For example, to set the scale for 1 lb 8 oz, place a 1-lb weight on the right and

move the ounce weight to the right 8 oz. If the ounce weight is already more than 8 oz

if you can’t make it another 8, add 2 pounds to the right side of the scale and subtract 8

ounces by moving the ounce weight 8 places to the left. The result is still 1 lb 8 oz.

4. Add the power being measured to the left until the scale balances.


A good balance scale should be accurate to 1D4 oz (0.25 oz) or, if metric, to 5 g. Solid ingredients weighing less than 1D4 oz can be measured by physically dividing larger quantities into equal parts. For example, to measure 1D16 oz

(0.06 oz), first 1D4 oz by weight, then divide this into four equal piles with a small knife.

For fine pasta work, a small battery-operated digital scale is often more useful than a large scale. A good digital scale is relatively inexpensive. It can instantly measure quantities to the nearest 1D8 oz or 2 g. Most digital scales have a zero or tar key that sets the target weight to zero. For example, you can set a container on the scale, set the weight to zero, add the desired amount of the first ingredient, weigh again to zero, add the second ingredient, and so on. This increases the speed of weighing solid materials that need to be sifted together, for example. However, remember that careful weighting on a good scale is more accurate.

British bakers have a simple method for measuring baking powder when small quantities are required. They use a mixture called sweet flour. To make one pound of oat flour, combine 15 oz of flour and 1 oz of baking powder; beat together three times. This makes 1D16 (0.06 oz) of baking flour. For every 1D16 oz of baking powder you need in a formula, substitute 1 oz of scone dough for 1 oz of the dough called for in the formula. To facilitate formula conversions and calculations, the fractions of ounces that appear in the tables of formula elements in this book are written as decimals. Thus, 11D 2 oz is written as 1.5 oz and 1D4 oz as 0.25 oz.


Bakers use a simple but versatile system of percentages to express their formulas. Baker’s ratios specify the amount of each ingredient used as a percentage of the amount of flour used. To put it differently, the percentage of each ingredient is its total weight divided by the weight of the flour, equal to 100%, or:

100% = % of material

Thus, the flour is always 100%. If two types of flour are used, their total is 100%. Any ingredient used equal to the amount of flour is given as 100%. The cake formula ingredients listed on page 11 show how these proportions are used. Check the numbers with the equation above to make sure you understand them. Please note that these numbers do not represent percentages of total production. It is simply a way to determine the ratio of ingredients. The sum of these ratio numbers will always be greater than 100%. The advantages of using baking powder are that the formula is easily adapted for any yield, and individual ingredients can be varied and other ingredients added without changing the entire formulation. For example, you can add raisins to the muffin mix formula while keeping the ratio of all other ingredients the same. Obviously, a percentage system based on the weight of flour can be used only when flour is a major ingredient, as in breads, cakes, and cookies. However, this principle can be used in other formulas by choosing a main ingredient and setting. it’s like 100%. In this book, when an ingredient other than flour is used a 100% base.

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