Baking in Korea: Or, My Adventures With the Metric System

Ever since I told Ye Bin about the day-long baking marathon my family does before Christmas, she has begged me to make cookies with her. Finally, this weekend we picked out the recipes we wanted to make and went to the store to buy ingredients–chocolate chip cookie mix, an oatmeal mix and the fixings for homemade thumbprint cookies. Sunday was our designated Cookie Day, and I spent Saturday night dreaming of the intoxicating aroma of chocolate chips, vanilla extract, and freshly baked goodness.

Turns out I forgot that Korea uses the metric system.

And the butter we bought came in a block, not sticks.

I had the thumbprint recipe on my phone, but it was all in standard measurements, not metric. Okay, I thought to myself, so what’s two sticks/one cup of butter out of this block? Well, the block looked like four sticks, so I cut it in half. So far, so good.

Then I needed flour. Wait, the measuring cup markings were 20, 50, 120, and 150. Was that grams? Milliliters? How could I change it to cups? I typed “grams to cups” into Google. Well, according to the conversion website, I needed 2 more bags of flour to equal 2.5 cups and that couldn’t be right because the bag was 1 kg. I decided to wing it and use the 150 twice and then fill the measuring cup halfway. That looked right – but the dough was too buttery. So I added more flour…and some more…and some more. Well, it was still wet and buttery, so I just put it in the oven and hoped for the best. The cookies were a little more crunchy and a lot more buttery than they were supposed to be, but they were still delicious so we went with it.

“Ye Bin, what do we need for the oatmeal cookies?” I asked. “How much butter?”



“Yeah, 70.”

“70 what?”

“70 g.”

“Let me see that.”

Uh oh, the directions were in Korean. But I did see 70 g on the box. What is that in sticks? According to Google, 70 g = 1 stick of butter. Okay, last time I went by sticks my dough was too wet, so I found a tbsp conversion because I had a tablespoon.  70g=5 tbsp. It sounded simple enough. But the butter was sticking to the tablespoon and I couldn’t measure accurately. Well, 5 tbsp was about half the remaining block of butter, so I assumed that was about a stick.

Gee, the oatmeal cookies were buttery and crunchy too.

“Janine, I need 70 g butter for the chocolate chip.”

“Just use the rest of the butter.”

“That’s a lot!”

“It’s fine. It’s 70 g.”

“Janine, this is many butter.”

“It’s fiiiiiine. The cookies will be crunchy and buttery.”

So 2.5 hours later, we had our tasty, buttery and crunchy cookies. Half for home, half for school.  맛있어요!



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