Friday, October 17, 2014

The Inside Scoop

Have you ever wondered how bakers produce dozens of cookies and cupcakes so uniform in size?
One of the most important factors to the bottom line in the food service industry is portion control. Commercial kitchens and bakeries use ice cream scoops (aka dishers) to portion foods quickly and efficiently. In baking, uniform size and quantities of batter also ensure that cookies, muffins and cupcakes bake evenly. These 'scoops' have a curved blade that moves inside, along the semi-spherical surface at a squeeze of the handle, and back again to release the food. In addition to their use in baking, scoops also ensure consistent portioning for hamburgers, meatballs, serving mashed potatoes, portioning individual fruit or meat tarts etc. 

Commercial grade scoops are numbered in sizes that represent quart fractions. For example; a #20 scoop should hold 1/20th of a quart. In other words, it takes 20 scoops to fill a quart. The real problem is that the quart fraction is only followed loosely and capacity varies between manufacturers. In spite of numerous discrepancies, inaccurate scoops are not defective or inferior. Scoops are primarily a portioning tool, not a measuring tool, so if you find some that fit your recipes there is no need to worry about standards and measurements. 
Recipes do not generally tell you what size scoop to use. In most cases a #12 or #16 scoop should be fine for cupcake and muffin recipes. I make notes on all my recipes with the size of scoop used and how many portions it makes. For example; I use a #100 scoop to portion cooled ganache for chocolate truffle fillings, for cupcakes and muffins 1-2x #30 scoops depending on the size of the tin, for cookies I use a #20 or #30 scoop and so on. 

Commercial Scoops #20, #24, #30, #40, #50, #100 and #150
Commercial scoops can be purchased at Campbell River Restaurant Supplies Ltd. They are open to the public at 851-13th Ave, Campbell River, BC, call them toll free at 1-800-663-2298 or on the web at   
My two, trusty #100 scoops are being put to work this week. I have started production of my Handmade Chocolate Truffles for Christmas... more on that next week.
Bon Appetit!

Photo by Sally Rae  

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