Baking 101

Baking 101: Accurately Measuring Flour

Dear baking world,

First, big shout out to my little sister Brynn for being the hand model. I promised that I would include her in this post, so I did it right off the bat. (Hi Brynn!)

So, what’s the big deal about measuring flour? Because accurate flour measuring can greatly affect the final outcome of the baked good. Too much flour means dry baked goods. Too little flour means pudding-like or flat baked goods.

Every baker uses a different method of measuring flour but every method could yield up to one tablespoon or more difference in either direction. Two of the most popular methods: one, scoop directly from the bowl then flatten (either with a knife or against the bag) and two, scoop into cup then flatten. However, depending on how hard the baker presses the flour into the cup, or even if a baker taps the measuring cup on the table or against a flour container, then the weight of flour in the cup will increase. This will further throw off the final product.

Typically, recipes indicate how much flour the recipe requires in ounces, which is a weight measurement, but also indicates the amount of flour in cups, which is a volume measurement. For example, in her book BakeWise, Shirley Corriher indicates that her Blueberry and Cream Muffins requires 8.8 oz. of all-purpose flour, or 4.4 oz./cup. Another example is Smitten Kitchen’s Perfect Blueberry Muffins, which she indicates require 6.75 oz. of all purpose flour or 4.5 oz./cup. As you can see, each recipe writer has a slightly different meaning for “one cup of flour,” instead of risking it with volume measuring, I would recommend that a baker buys a food scale for truly accurate measuring.

But for the sake of scientific experiment, I wanted to test the accuracy of different measuring methods, I used Gold unbleached all-purpose flour. The bag indicated that 1 cup weighs 120 grams, or 4.23 ounces. Therefore, 4.23 ounces will be my ideal measurement. The best method will be closest to 4.23 ounces. (I would like to note that traditionaloven.com says that one cup of flour is equal to 4.4 oz. This is very close to Shirley’s and Smitten Kitchen’s measurements for a cup of flour.)

 Method 1 – Scoop directly into flour and flatten with a knife

Weigh 1: 4.85 oz.

Off from desired weight (4.23 oz.): .62 oz. or 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp.

 Weigh 2: 5.20 oz.

Off from desired weight (4.23 oz.): .97 oz. or about 2. Tbsp.

 Weigh 3: 4.85 oz.

Off from desired weight (4.23 oz.): .62 oz. or 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp.

 Weigh 4: 5.00 oz.

Off from desired weight (4.23 oz.): .77 oz. or 1.5 Tbsp.

 Average weight: 4.97 oz.

 

How to measure flour
Scoop directly from flour

 

How to measure flour
Flatten with a knife

 Method 2 – Spoon in flour and flatten with knife 

Weigh 1: 4.35 oz.

Off from desired weight (4.23 oz.): .12 oz or about 1 tsp.

 Weigh 2: 4.35 oz.

Off from desired weight (4.23 oz.): .12 oz or about 1 tsp.

 Weigh 3: 4.35 oz.

Off from desired weight (4.23 oz.): .12 oz or about 1 tsp.

 Weigh 4: 4.45

Off from desired weight (4.23 oz.): .12 oz or about a half Tbsp.

 Average weight: 4.38

 

 

How to measure flour

 Scoop flour into cup with a spoon

(Note: at the end of scooping the flour in to heaping, as seen below, some people tap the cup on the side of the flour can. This only increases the total amount of flour in the cup and will throw off the final measurement even more.)

 

how to measure flour
Flatten with a knife

 

Hope this helps you and your baking endeavors! I know this revelation spurred me to buy a food scale from Amazon.

Happy baking!

Brita

 

 

 

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