The Great British Baking Gear

Great British Baking Show Scales

January 17, 2021

TLDR: In 2021 (Season 12) the bakers on The Great British Baking Show have the Taylor Pro Digital Kitchen Food Scales with Dual Platform Weighing Design (Purchase on Amazon - UK). In 2020 (Season 11) bakers on The Great British Baking Show had the Salter Waterproof Black Digital Kitchen Scale. Before 2020 they used the Salter Disc Electronic Digital Kitchen Scales - Black (Purchase on Amazon - UK)

What The Bakers Use - Season 12

2021 Season 12 - Taylor Pro Digital Kitchen Food Scales with Dual Platform Weighing Design (Amazon Link - UK)

Scales are quintessential pieces of baking equipment provided to the bakers on The Great British Baking Show. In season 12 (2021) The Great British Baking Show changed not just the model of their scales, but the brand as well. The bakers now have access to the "Taylor Pro Digital Kitchen Food Scales with Dual Platform Weighing Design, Professional Standard with Precision Accuracy and Tare Function, Brushed Stainless Steel Black/Silver, 5 kg Capacity" - phew, that is a mouth full (Amazon Link - UK). Honestly - like the "Taylor Pro Dual Digital Scale" would have been a much better name. Why even shorten "professional" to "pro" at that point?

My apologies, but I can not find this scale on Taylor's website, perhaps it is a newer model. Their site seems... dated. Also it is hard to discern their official site from resellers - lame.

So why the change? Well Taylor Precision Products has been around since 1851 making scales. In 2012 they were purchased for their distribution channels and now all sorts of housewares floats around in their repertoire. Was it a good change? I think that Taylor, being REALLY good at one thing, like making the best scales in the world was amazing. Instead they chose to also sell crummy rain gauges and whatever other doodads, this seemed to tarnish their brand, but that is my opinion.

The major reason I can see for this change is not necessarily because of the brand but because of the dual functionality of the scale. It has a larger section with a maximum of 5kg (5000g) with a precision of 1g, the same as the Salter scales. Additionally it has a smaller scale with a max of 500 g at 0.01g precision. The dual scales allow for bulk measurements, as well as very accurate measurements.

When cooking something that needs to be very precise, eg, you need 7 grams of something (salt / yeast) you want to be accurate! Larger scales have trouble telling the difference between 6, 7, and 8 grams - its just intrinsic to how the sensors work - they're built for ranges between 0 and 5000 grams. While the more sensitive scales (thus more sensitive sensors), with a smaller range, have trouble now between 0.06, 0.07, and 0.08 grams. The scale may lose resolution between "what is 6.99 or 7.01 grams", but it will be roughly 100 times more accurate, and closer to 7 grams than the bulk scale. This is good!

The work surfaces on the Taylor Pro Dual Digital Scale are all stainless steel. This gives them a nice working surface as well as makes for easy clean up. On top of the functionality the scales have a 20 year warranty, which is great. If you're a fan of celebrity chef endorsements, Michelin Chef Michael Roux Jr. gives these a thumbs up. As he is no Paul Hollywood - I have no idea who he is. Just kidding.

Personally I have a 5kg scale that I use across the board with good results. Are they going to be exactly repeatable every time? No, but its always in the ball park. The ball park of delicious bread!

But on The Great British Baking Show, I would wager that some of the bakers wanted the accuracy to ensure that they were baking exactly what they wanted to be baking. For this the Taylor Pro Digital Dual Scale (Amazon Link - UK) checks that box.

What The Bakers Used - Season 11 & Earlier

From season 1 to 11 the bakers used Salter scales. Salter as a company is actually pretty cool - Richard Salter started them in the late 1760's by transitioning spring making into scale production for fisherman. Though it sounds fishy, they have a pretty cool history - check it out on the Salter's history webpage.

Today Salter is an American (HoMedics Group Ltd. purchased them in 2004) owned British company, still designing their products in the and operating out of the United Kingdom. However, production has been moved to China... as production is wont to do. If you're looking to pick one up - another nice feature on most of their new scales is a 15 year warranty - but you have to purchase directly through Salter. They've been around for 260 years, I assume they will be around for another 15 - as long as HoMedic does not make a hot mess of things. However, they don't ship to the US, which is a pain, as you'll have to go through a 3rd party seller which will limit the warranty to roughly 1 year :(.

I've linked to Amazon where I can (full disclosure - I have an affiliate ID on my links) but quite frequently certain products are not listed on Amazon. All things the same, adhering to the British heritage, the bakers on The Great British Baking Show are provided with Salter scales.

Before 2020 the bakers used the Salter Disc Electronic Kitchen Scales (model 1036 BKSSDR) (Amazon). Salter actually made a pretty awesome scale paying homage to the show in 2020, putting the Union Jack on the stainless steel scale with their 'Great British' Disc Digital Kitchen Scale (model 1036 UJBKDR). The show replaced the model 1036 scale in 2020 with the Salter Waterproof Black Digital Kitchen Scale (model 1062 BKDR) (Amazon). Sadly, due to the 2020 Covid quarantine baking madness - both are hard to find.

Season 11 - Salter Waterproof Black Digital Kitchen Scale (Model 1062)

A pound of my thoughts...

As far as the scales themselves go both of the scales are about equal in performance and how they'll serve you in the kitchen. They both measure up to 5kg (11 lbs) in 1 g (0.1 oz) increments. Personally I give the edge to the 1062 model. Why? Because it is waterproof, and at some point I'm going to accidentally drown most things in my kitchen, and like to purposefully wash them. Additionally I really dig the aesthetic. It also has a concave face plate to boot - so it is able to keep things from rolling away and contain liquids that you may (will) spill. However, is this the be-all end-all scale? Honestly - no.

Please forgive my engineering nerd tangent here... The Salter 1036 and 1062 have a range of 0 - 5000 grams. That is a huge range (depending on what you're trying to measure), and most commercial sensors, after calibration are good within .1% of their maximum range. That means with reasonable sensors in it, you're going to have confidence that you're within 5 grams of where you think you're at (even if the packaging says 1g increments... the same goes for all sensors really). Lets pretend they put in REALLY expensive sensors at 0.01% error - that still gives you wiggle room of 0.5g. If you're measuring a watermelon - that is awesome. If you're measuring a gram of salt - not so awesome.

So what to do? Get another scale for smaller measurements! (Or assume that the 1/2 teaspoon weighs what you think it does. You risky risk take you... live on that edge!)

At the moment I live in that whirl wind world of assuming my volumetric measurement is pretty close in mass to what it should be (there are some awesome conversions available online for common ingredients like salt and yeast - additionally "The Bread Bakers Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart (November 14. 2001) (Amazon Link) has a pretty great conversion chart on Page 47.

However, Salter also makes decent kitchen scales with very small ranges and measurement increments. The most convenient one seems to be the Salter Compact Precision Digital Scale (model 1360 BKDR) (Amazon Link). It has a 0.01g increment (which is better than their other options) and a maximum load of 300g. On top of that it has a built in case to keep dust and damage away.

Salter Compact Precision Digital Scale (Model 1360) (Amazon Link)

Why a kitchen scale?

Salter Disc Electronic Kitchen Scales (model 1036 BKSSDR) (Amazon Link)

Honestly if you have to ask you'll ... we'll... I guess you'll know really soon.

When writing recipes there is a trend to use volumetric measurements eg. 1 cup, 2 fluid ounces, 250 ml, etc. Which, in all honesty gets you in the ball park for what you're trying to make. Maybe you'll get lucky and nail everything on the head and everything will turn out delicious. But more often than not, if you're trying to follow a recipe exactly, you're going to want to do it by mass. Why?

Mass does not change! One kilogram of flour is always going to be the same as one kilogram flour. But on the flip side of that coin, one cup of flour is not always going to be the same as one cup of flour because the density can change (the same is true for almost any ingredient... except some fluids - like water!).

Maybe the flour you have is really dense and 1 cup is going to weigh 200g, or maybe it is not very dense and 1 cup will weigh 175g. Even within the same bag, the flour at the top is going to be less compressed than the flour at the bottom. And the flour in the supermarket at the bottom of the stack is going to be much more compressed than the flour at the top of the stack of flour bags (sifting flour can help with this!). If you're making something and have added 25% too much of an ingredient because it was compressed you're going to get some wonky results. If you're making something and you had the exact mass of what you want - you can be reasonably confident you're doing it right.

Additionally, if you're doing things by mass you can find the relative percentages of ingredients very easily. This allows you to scale up and down your recipes with very little effort. For example: Lets say a recipe calls for 1000g of flour and 20g of salt. You know that the salt is 2% of the mass of the flour. Lets say you want to only do 75% of the recipe (your bread tins are ... just too small) you can multiply the 1000g by 0.75 to get 750 grams and then your percentages of other ingredients to get their masses - in our example 750g * 0.002 = 1.5g. You can quickly do that for all of your ingredients and weigh them out with quick precision.

Sure, you can do this with volumetric measurements as well, it's just easier to make mistakes and its really hard to get 75% of a tablespoon. Trust me and my "there is too much salt in here" recipe transformations.

Other Cool Salter Products

While we're at it - fixating on Salter - they do have some products that are worth looking at (perhaps).

The first is the (Sorry - I can not find this on Amazon...), a dual scale - it has a 0 - 10kg and a 0 - 200g scale in one package. If you're looking for a quick and possible space saving option for both scales this could be for you. Honestly - I'm a little bit skeptical of this because the increment on the smaller scale is 0.1g. Which is probably fine - if you're looking for the 2 in 1 combo of large and small scale... scales!

Lastly there are 2 more Salter scales that I would personally consider over the 1062 or 1036 scales - and purely for aesthetic reasons - they both look great! The first is the Salter Arc Digital Kitchen Scales - Black (model 1066 BKDR15) which has a nice flat surface that can be easily cleaned and is just a pretty simple arc overall. They also make a stainless steel edition (model 1087 SSDR) (Amazon Link) which does not look quite as good IMO, but will definitely be less prone to scratching and wear-and-tear over time. Finally appealing to my high sense of aestheticism is the Salter Ultra Slim Digital Kitchen Scales (Amazon Link). Its under an inch thick and has a similar look to the 1036 model but feels more streamlined.

Salter Arc Stainless Steel Digital Kitchen Scales (Model 1087 SSDR) (Amazon Link)