Published September 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.
Good habits, such as weighing baking ingredients, can make you a better cook. We've found a good kitchen scale to be an essential kitchen item.
Handy as they are, measuring cups will never measure up to the accuracy of a digital scale. We’ve found that when measuring dry ingredients using a “dip and sweep” method, different cooks can be off by as much as 10 percent—a variance that, in baking, can mean the difference between a dense cake or a fluffy, tender crumb. To find the best scale for the job, we tested nine models, each measuring in 1-gram increments. As we placed 30-, 200-, and 500-gram lab weights on their surfaces-and moved them around to make sure readings were equal in every position-we found only negligible discrepancies (within 2 grams). We based our rankings, then, on how easy the scales are to use. Whether you choose a scale that measures in decimals (as the professionals use) or fractions (as most home recipes are written) is a matter of preference. We ranked scales most highly for roomy platforms (over 6 inches); at least 7-pound capacity; a large, clear readout display; and sensitive, accessible buttons. Our new favorite, which displays weights in fractions or grams, measures up all around.