Yes, I know this post title is quite the mouthful, but stick with me. It will make sense.
On Sunday January 12th, I attended the January Chicago Food Swap at Mac & Cheese Productions. I walked away from this swap inspired again, trading my Almond Macarons, filled with either dark or white chocolate raspberry ganache, for a variety of mouth-watering items, many of which I never thought of making at home. My swaps included freshly roasted coffee, homemade mustard, blackberry syrup, tiramisu, cranberry orange infused vinegar and spicy corn chowder. One of my favorite swaps was for a kit to make Sorrel, a drink popular in Jamaica. It came with ruby red dried sorrel, fresh ginger, allspice berries and two cinnamon sticks. It all smells fabulous and I cannot wait to steep my drink.
To make 150 macarons, I used twelve egg whites, but I didn't need any of the yolks. I was on a mission to find a good use for these golden little leftovers. Puddings are wonderful ways to yolks, but the last thing I needed was to be tempted by large bowls of creamy custard. Smitten Kitchen had a recipe for Seven Yolk Pasta that would use six of my yolks plus one whole egg. It looked promising, and as much as I love creme brulee, it was probably better to make dinner rather than dessert.
After the polar vortex left town, I sent the kids back to school and set out to make my pasta dough, following the Deb Perlman's excellent instructions. The recipe called for 1 3/4 cups or 8 ounces of flour. Because it is faster, I decided to measure the flour in cups rather than weigh it. I was surprised that the dough turned out to be very stiff. I had trouble kneading it and rolling it through the pasta attachment. It was, however, delicious when cooked.
Since I still had six yolks left, I made the recipe a second time, this time weighing the flour. Eight ounces measured at one cup plus six tablespoons of flour. That was six tablespoons less than what I has used the first time. The second batch of dough was a pleasure to work with. It was easy to knead and rolled though the machine into beautiful, supple sheets of pasta.
I had forgotten how dry ingredients can be affected by humidity as well as the measuring method. If you sift the flour or spoon it into the measuring up, you will add air, so you will have less in the measuring cup. If you dip your cup into a bag of flour that has been sitting in your cupboard, the flour may have settled, making for a dense, heavy cup of flour.
So, is it better to use a scale or a measuring cup?
When I took classes at the French Pastry School, all ingredients were measured by weight and in grams. Using a scale increases the accuracy and takes out the other factors that might influence the amount of flour used. I did invest in a scale and I love it. It was helpful when making the pasta dough, and also came in handy when I made these killer chocolate chip cookies from Smitten Kitchen (more on those soon). If you bake often, I'd suggest purchasing one (The Chopping Block has a nice selection) and tucking it into your cupboard. You never know when it might be needed. However, most times, I just want the ease of dipping my measuring cup into a bag of flour and moving on with my baking, I found these tips from King Arthur Flour to be good reminders on the best way to measure ingredients.