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The Importance of Pourfection for Baking

Sep 10, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose

POURfect Bowls, Beakers, and Measuring Spoons

Good design is something I value very highly. The first thing I learned about design when I was a freshman in college, is the concept of form following function. Over the years I have found it to be both disappointing and outrageous that in the arena of home baking, the critical tools--measuring spoons and cups with spouts for measuring liquid--have fallen so far from this design principle and, more often than not, are inconsistent in accuracy. I kept thinking: no wonder so many people are under the mistaken impression that baking is hard--there is no standard of measure for the ingredients and unfortunately most people seem to think that measuring is easier than weighing.

When I bake, I weigh almost every ingredient except for small but essential ingredients like baking powder, baking soda, salt, and yeast. 1/8 teaspoon more or less of baking powder or baking soda makes a critical difference in determining whether a cake will dome, have a flat surface, or sink in the middle--as does 1/8 teaspoon of yeast in bread baking which can affect the rising time by as much as an hour for each rise. Most scales don't measure these minute ingredients as accurately as measuring spoons do. And I know most people who bake measure liquid by volume not weight.

With each new brand or design of measuring spoons and liquid measuring cups I eagerly ran (with hope in my heart) to the sink to start checking by pouring in water. A cup of water, by the way, measures 8 fluid ounces but does not weigh 8 ounces. Look up water in the dictionary. It defines one fluid 8 ounce cup of water as 238.35 grams which is 8.4 ounces. The volume reading should be taken at eye level and the meniscus--the clear space at the very top--should be above the line. (Incidentally, liquid measures are not designed to measure solids such as sugar and flour which need measuring cups with unbroken rims on which to level off the ingredient.)

While I've been hoping desperately for accurate measuring cups for liquid and accurate measuring spoons, I've also wished for pitchers with spouts that didn't drip. Randy Kaas has just fulfilled both dreams with his line of POURfect beakers and measuring spoons. But he is also providing something I never even dared dream of: The POURfect bowls which enable you to pour ingredients into a stand mixer while it is running without danger of hitting the paddle beater or spilling a single drop of liquid or smidgen of flour. Beyond that, it is comfortable to hold with one hand and a small "rocker" below the tear-drop shaped spout latches onto the bowl to keep it from falling into the mixer bowl. This man thinks of everything.

The measuring spoons come in every useful increment, starting with a set of teaspoons measures: 1/32, 1/16, 1/8, and a second set of teaspoon measures: 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 3/4, 1, 1 1/2, and 1 tablespoon. They also come with a clever little flat scraper to level off the ingredient.

The beakers, which are a pleasure to hold as well as behold, are 2 cup capacity, with the standard division of cup markings plus both fluid ounces and milliliters, and can be used for boiling liquids in the microwave. The bowls come in 6 cup and 8 cup capacity. All of these POURfect products are dishwasher safe.

Isn't it interesting that the food world has an award for just about everything except kitchen equipment design. Our beloved Kitchen Aid sponsors baking awards. But they are the ones who deserve an award for enabling us to bake at a higher level as does Cuisinarts who pioneered the food processor, My Weigh Scale that makes accurate weighing an affordable pleasure, CDN thermometers with the new "quick tip technology" (what can be more important than temperature in baking), and now Randy Kaas who should be knighted for his contributions.

Randy has been baking and cooking since 4 years of age (his grandmother was a finalist in the Pillsbury bake-off the year he was born) and has been involved in specialty utensils for close to 30 years, also offering product design suggestions to major companies. We are so lucky Randy has such a passion for baking coupled with a missionary goal to make it still more enjoyable for everyone including himself. I can't wait to see what other great designs he has in the hopper! And now my oft repeated phrase: "If only there were..." can change to "I'll ask Randy to make..."

Pourfect 12-Piece Plus Leveler Measuring Spoon Set, White

Pourfect 1, 2 and 4 Cup Beaker Set, Clear

Pourfect 9-Piece Measuring Cup Set, White

Pourfect Original Spill-Proof 1, 2 and 4 Cup Mixing Bowl Set, White

Comments

oh my people, i am so glad to find these comments, indeed, was just going to post a second comment to retract my negativity of not having colored numbers. last night, i used the pourfect spoons in my kitchen and really loved them. the uncolored numbers are really big and raised, and kitchens are always well lit, so was no problem at all.

my initial objection was probably due to that soon i may need reading glasses! ok, maybe i will paint these numbers in fire yellow.....

i like the fact that on each spoon, the measurements in milliliters are also marked. awesome. now i know for sure that three times 1 tsp (5ml) equals to 1 tb (15ml), or that 1 1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) equals to 1/2 tb!

they are pourfect, and btw, i love their drip free beakers, and on my upcoming youtube episode when i moisten my Red Fruit Shortcake, you will see it is drip free!

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Trust me Hector, you'll get used to it. I felt the same way when I first got mine. But as Julie and Zach pointed out, after awhile you get the hang of it :)

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Hector, I see what you mean, but I find that with regular use, you quickly learn to recognize them by spoon size and by where they are in the line-up.

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
10/13/2009 09:53 PM

Hector,

I know what you mean but the coloring was the issue to begin with (washes/wears off). I find the way they're done now to be perfect as no worries with it ever fading.

You get used to the size of the spoon head; rarely do I need to even look at the size indicator. :)

Zach

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i've just got a new set of pourfect spoons, i know they are accurate and comes in all handy sizes and the handles are easy to grab and organize, but hello????? why aren't the labels printed in color? it is all white, raised and also in braille, but if the labels would be colored it will be much easier to read. i will need to get a sharpie and color them myself!

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i use that type of scale from myweigh but to tell you the truth i've never weighed cream of tartar. it's always worked with the measuring spoons.

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Hi Rose,

1/8 teaspoon is about 0.6 grams? So would it be better to use a drug scale (accuracy up to 0.1 gram) to measure ingredients like yeast and baking powder instead of measuring spoon?

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absolutely at room temp you get better volume. are you using cream of tartar (1/8 t per white) and are you certain there is no grease whatsover on the bowl or beater?

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Rose, I have about a 50% success rate with meringue cookies when I whip them with air to increase in volume. I think I do the same thing each time but one thing that concerns me is the effect of temperature - should I not whip the egg right out of the frig but wait for it to be room temperature or slightly warmer ?

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
12/17/2007 09:26 AM

Reissing,

In my many many trials of dealing with meringue cookies, I too had cracks to occur that I could not figure out. There seemed to be many factors in play as to why. First, I ensure that I once piped out, I drop the half sheet pan on the counter a couple of times with a hard whack ( but not too hard) to relieve the batter of air bubbles. I also do this sometimes before piping out while the batter is in the bowl. Second, I ensure that absolutely no moisture is on top. I used to try to smooth the little tip on top with the back of a spoon dipped in water, but soon realized that even the slightest bit of water cracks the cookies. You state that you leave them out, which helps form the crust but apparently isn't working in your case. I think perhaps your problem is the consistency of the batter, which is very critical. In my meringue cookies, it's important that the batter flow like magma (thick and oozy) and not be too liquid because you end up with the same result as if you touched it with water. I don't know the specifics of the recipe you're referring to (alhtough I do have Rose's translated book but not in front of me at the moment, so I'll have to research), but in mine, the egg whites have to be "full bodied but not stiff" (the tips should still flop over).

Another important point (again, related to my recipe, but don't know yet if relates to yours): If you are mixing the ground almonds with the confectcioner's sugar and the almonds must be ground, make sure there are absoutely no lumps in the powdered sugar/nut mixture and that it is all finely ground. Run the almonds through the food processor until very very fine, then put in the confectioner's sugar and run it all through again until almost powdery then remove and whisk it by hand to break up any lumps that might have been created by lumping nut powder.

Try these things as they apply then let us know!

Zach

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i can't tell for sure but maybe it's the placement on the pan. try doing a half batch and place them in a circular pattern. cracking usually occurs when they rise too much. a lower oven temperature might help.

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Magdalena Reissig
Magdalena Reissig
12/16/2007 07:23 PM

I am a great fan of your books and recipes, particularly your cookies, and they always work well. But for several years, the recipe that brings raves from family and friends is the "chocolate massepains" from the Bernachon book you translated. Done as in the book, the batter sometimes liquefied and of course it could not be baked. Then, I thought you may have a better solution in your books and I went to the Cake Bible. I kept the ingredients from the original recipe, but I followed your procedure for combining the ingredients in the Dacquoise; mixing the ground almonds with the confectioner sugar and cocoa (and adding cornstarch) and using the superfine sugar with the egg whites.
I also mixed the nuts into the meringue as you do, instead of the reverse as Bernachon does. This way it does not liquefy. But I still have one problem: In the second half of baking, some of the cookies developed an irregular, polygonal sunken area with a crack that spoils their appearance. I have tried to lower the cooking temperature to slightly under 250 F.,not to open the over or turn the cookies, letting them stand on the sheets before cooking for about half an hour. It appears that some of this may have some effect, but I am not sure what is the reason for this and what causes it. I do not have the time, the knowledge or the facilities to design a well controlled experiment to solve this problem and I do not find anything in your own books to guide me. Can you suggest something?. It would be greatly appreciated.

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actually it's best to use heat proof glass for syrups because they retain the heat,keep them fluid, and then you can just pop them into the microwave for a few seconds should the syrup harden prematurely.

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Thank you for checking on that. I plan to buy the bowls anyway, but now I won't melt them by trying to pour hot sugar into them!

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With his permission, I'm posting the following exerpts from an email I received from Randy Kass:

The POURfect bowl material is not rated up to 248 degrees. The rating is up to 190 degrees. The bowl interior is highly polished which makes it POURfect for liquid ingredients. If you by chance stain a bowl you can pour in a 25 % concentration of liquid bleach and the stain will immediately come out. I have tested this with tomato soup and strawberry Jell-O.

I hope you will look forward to new sizes and products coming out later this year that will make your baking and food preparation easier. Check back with Rose or on my website, www.pourfectbowl.com

Best Regards,

Randy Kaas

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I just re-read my previous posting and I'd like to clarify something. When I used the term "as it was designed", I was referring to pouring ingredients (wet or dry) into your mixer, as opposed to transferring hot sugar syrup into it in order to stop the cooking process (as Rose suggests in many of her recipes using a heat-proof glass measure).

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I have one of the pourfect mixing bowls and I absolutely love-love-love it for pouring dry ingredients into my kitchenaid, as it was designed (so much neater than the waxed paper trick).

I personally wouldn't pour 248 degree sugar syrup into it, or even boiling water for that matter. Because I only use it for dry ingredients, I prefer to simply rinse the bowl by hand, but I occasionally wash it in the dish washer (top rack) being very careful not to wash it with anything that could stain it (tomato sauce, etc).

I plan to purchase the larger mixing bowl and the beaker, but will hold off on the spoons.

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good quesnstion--i'll contact randy. somehow i doubt it!

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Thank you Zach. At least now I know they are aware of the measuring spoon situation. I'm glad Rose is in contact with them about this. My mind is at ease. I thought it was just me. Love, love, love the Pourfect products!

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
04/ 1/2007 02:23 PM

Jen,


The beakers and bowls are not just dishwasher safe, but microwave safe. The specifications that come with the set make this statement. However, the spoons are listed only as dishwasher safe. I have used my beaker and bowls in the microwave without a problem and I have also poured liquids up to nearly 200 degrees into them, but I cannot speak to the 248 degree syrup or what their maximum may be.

I'm sure Rose can provide more information.

Thanks,
Zach

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Oops, I should have said i use Rose's 2-cup PYREX measuring cup trick....

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Zach (or Rose, or anyone),

Do you know what the temperature range is for the pourfect bowls? I did some searching, and couldn't find much beyond "dishwasher safe".

I'm wondering if the bowls could be used to pour the 248 degree sugar into the mixer for buttercream? I've always used Rose's 2-cup glass measuring cup trick, but the bowl sounds promising!

Thanks,
Jen

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
04/ 1/2007 01:25 PM

Hi Judy,

I can speak to this. I, too, have the spoons and even in handwashing in warm water the lettering comes off. The company is aware of this and is taking steps to correct it by embossing them so that the lettering is raised and permanent. Rose is aware, too, and has spoken with them. I think her persistence with them is paying off, and the improved version will hopefully be out in the near future.

I continue to use mine as they really are the best. Just find a permanent, waterproof felt black marker and mark them in the meantime.

Zach

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Rose, do you have the measuring spoons? I just got mine and put them on the top rack of my dishwasher, as the brochure that came with the bowls and beaker said that all Pourfect product could go in the dishwasher. Anyway, the black lettering on the measuring spoons all smudged. I'm afraid if I continue putting themm in the washer, they will completely come off. I wrote them, but as of yet have not received any reply. I am thrilled with the bowls, beaker and also the measuring spoons - if only I could put them in the dishwasher.

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Angela Taormina
Angela Taormina
01/29/2007 03:09 PM

I think these Pourfect bowls and spoons are also available from the QVC tv station. They come in a set, and the price is very good. I just ordered mine from them. I've got more than enough measuring stuff already, but these look truly revolutionary.

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p.s. i recommend either the cuisinart or the kitchen aid (listed in alphabetical order) i use both.

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you didn't mention if the variables are the same such as are you using the same kind of chocolate and cream each time.

the only reason it would be matte is if you got air in to it by stirring too much during cooling. the best thing is to let it cool about 1 hour and then cover it so no evaporation until cool.

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Desiree Stoll
Desiree Stoll
01/23/2007 09:11 PM

Dear Rose,

I have made ganache in the past with mixed results. First, I am frustrated with my food processor, as it slips a belt when I try to chop it and I am wondering what processor you recommend for chopping it - and second, I prefer bittersweet chocolate, and sometimes the result is beautiful and shiny, and other times it's more matte - not exactly dull, but not dark. Where do you get your chocolate? Thank you,-D

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believe me i'll let you all know as soon as they're available. i'm impatient too!

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Any word on those measuring spoons?

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thanks for your feed back and for validating my enthusiasm! more coming down the pipe-line that will improve our baking in the near future!

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Just received my Pourfect bowls and beaker -- fabulous products! The bowls are a bit large for storage in my tiny kitchen, but they work wonderfully well. The beaker is a revelation -- no more puddles of oil under the mixing bowl when I make mayonnaise!

Rose, many thanks for scouting out these and other high-quality tools.

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
10/ 2/2006 06:15 PM

You won't regret it!

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Hi Zach. Thank you for the post! I was debating on buying these bowls, since I have pretty much run out of storage space. ;-) But you have helped me make up my mind.

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
09/13/2006 02:06 PM

Rose,

I own these bowls and just want to tell everyone how great they are! Recently I was making a pastry cream requiring hot milk to be slowly poured into the mixer. Prior to having these bowls, I would pour the hot milk directly from the saucepan, watching some of it spill down the side of the pan plus not being able to control the amount of drizzle very well that I needed - very aggravating! Now, I immediately transfer the milk to the pourfect bowl and it drizzles in perfectly without a single drop spilled. The pivot point on the neck is ingenious, helping rest the bowl on the mixing bowl while pouring. I think the bowls are the best I've ever used.

Zach

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you could try more butter and/or melted white chocolate but not too much as when it hardens it gets very hard!

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Hi Rose,
I need to make a carrot layer cake and would like to do a basketweave with the cream cheese frosting. Is there any way to stiffen the frosting without adding more powdered sugar? I already tried it that way and I found the frosting to be way too sweet. Do you have any hints?
Thanks so much!
Renee

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thanks so much anna--i'm the worst speller!

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I think there's a problem or two with the link above.

Is this the site you mean? http://chefscatalog.com/

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