Saturday, March 21, 2015

Basic Bakeshop Math

When you think about baking, I know you don't really want to think about math or science.

Well, on second thought, maybe some people do - but that's not what I'm primarily concerned about when I'm decorating a cake or creating a new variety of muffin. When you think about baking, you're probably mostly interested in the end result - fluffy buttercream, a rich caramel sauce, salty pistachio garnishes, a lightly spiced maple cupcake... But math and science are integral to that final product. You can't have a delectable treat without measurements and chemical reactions.

This is another one of those things that I love about baking: I can convince myself that being good at math is part of my job, and that I perform chemistry experiments every day. (That's kind of true, right?)

When it comes to basic bakeshop math, there's some memorization involved. If you bake often enough, the facts become second nature (3 teaspoons to a tablespoon and 16 tablespoons to a cup, for example). There's more advanced math involved later, such as how to assign a price to a product when considering ingredients and labor and everything that goes into that item, but that's not something we're going to concern ourselves with at the moment. What I want you to familiarize yourself with: measurement conversions.

Conversions basically involve all units of bakeshop measurement: cups, tablespoons, ounces, gallons, etc. When you familiarize yourself with these things, you can easily cut a recipe in half, triple a recipe, figure out how much a recipe yields, etc. - without having to dirty twice as many measuring vessels and also saving yourself some precious time.

Below are some tables for units of measurement that could be of great value! I don't necessarily expect you to study them until they seem tattooed onto the back of your eyelids or anything, but maybe writing some of them down and sticking it on the fridge could be of some assistance the next time you're wrist-deep in flour.

So here you are: finally, an instance in which math can be both very useful and delicious. You're quite welcome.


1/8 teaspoon (t) dash
1 t 1/3 T
3 t 1 T or 1/2 fluid ounce (fl oz)
1/2 tablespoon (T) 1 1/2 t
1 T 3 t or 1/2 oz
2 T 1 fl oz
3 T 1 1/2 fl oz or 1 jigger
4 T 1/4 c or 2 fl oz
8 T 1/2 c or 4 fl oz
12 T 3/4 c or 6 fl oz
16 T 1 c or 8 fl oz

Continue for more measurement tables!