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Have you tried measuring with metric lately?

August 7, 2011
By ANITA HANABURGH , The Leader Herald

I want to make something Spanish for this weekend. I have a good friend coming for dinner, then we are heading to the Glimmerglass Opera. Although I'm not a huge fan of opera, it was never in my radar growing up, I do enjoy going to the Alice Busch Theater on Otsego Lake. It's a beautiful place with open air "wings" and it's always a superb production. This weekend we are going to see Carmen. Good thing, as I at least have heard of it: "Oh, Toreador . . . . "

Carmen takes place in Seville so I think a Spanish-themed dinner is in order. I want authentic. I just spent some time looking for authentic Spanish recipes on the World Wide Web and I was rewarded with a wonderful "Carmen"-themed meal. The recipes look yummy and easy, but Oh busboy, the recipes are in metric.

When teaching, I frequently used recipes with metric measure. My recipes from classes at the Culinary Institute are all in metric. Recipes from my sister, who is a converted Canadian, always are in metric. But Americans panic at metric. In the '70's, the schools tried to convert us, but it didn't work. Even with the global connections today, we are very stubborn when it comes to kitchen measure. Even Anita ala carte, experienced with the measure, takes a deep breath when she comes upon milliliters and grams.

So, I am looking at a recipe for Spanish almond cake written in metric measure. Like a mathematics formula, or more like a science experiment, a recipe requires a plan to put the items together. The plan is the same for this cake; the terms are just a little different.

Let's review. Ingredients are calculated in two ways - by weight (this requires scales) and by volume (this uses a container). Most chefs consider weight as the more accurate measure. But as Americans, we tend to use volume for our recipes using the standard cup, tablespoon and teaspoon. There are 16 tablespoons in a cup and 3 teaspoons (not 2) in a tablespoon. Because of the quantities in restaurants, they use a pint, quart and a gallon measure. There are 2 cups in a pint, 4 cups in a quart, 2 pints in a quart and 4 quarts in a gallon

When we measure by weight, we use pounds, ounces, etc. There are 16 ounces in a pound - remember third grade? For liquids, we use a standard liquid measuring cup that shows weight, ounces, pounds and volume cups and quarts.

Metric uses volume measure for liquids only. For this, it uses milliliters (ml) and liters (L). It's really easier than our measure as the numbers go in 100, 200, 300, etc.

Metric uses weight for solids or liquids. This is certainly more accurate as all ingredients weigh different amounts. For example, a cup of confectionary sugar does not weigh the same as a cup of chocolate chips, although Americans measure them as if they do. If a package contains 8 ounces, it does not mean it is automatically a cup unless it is a thin liquid. For weight we use ounces, but the metric system primarily uses grams.

Metric is not difficult but if you do use metric a lot, my suggestion is do not convert it. Buy a metric scale (mine is both) and weigh away. I'm making the almond cake and I will convert. Why not join me?

Anita's untested Spanish almond cake in mostly Metric

Borrowed from

250g of ground almonds

280g butter

280g sugar

150g flour

6 eggs

1 tbsp icing sugar


1.) Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.

2.) Separate the eggs - add the yolks to the butter and sugar and mix well. Stir in the ground almonds

3.) Beat the egg whites until light and fluffy and add to the mixture little by little.

4.) Add the flour and lightly mix all ingredients together with a wooden spoon.

5.) Grease a cake tin with a little butter and pour the cake mixture into the tin. Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees (you'll have to figure the fahrenheit conversion) for approximately 40 minutes or until the cake has browned on top.

6.) Remove from the cake tin and sprinkle with icing sugar and a few whole almonds.




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