The proper way to measure flour involves weights, not measures. And… you may be doing it wrong.
I am a lazy cook. I am an even lazier baker. I take whatever shortcuts I can, often because I’ve just got too much else that I’m thinking of. Sometimes those shortcuts work out. Sometimes they don’t. If I’m cooking for my family and it more or less turns out, I don’t sweat it too much. My family is pretty easy going.
Since I entered the cookbook writing business, however, I’ve used better habits, particularly when recipe developing and testing. I buy fresh spices every few months. I soften butter completely. I go out of my way to buy large eggs even though extra large eggs are cheaper.
(Why is that anyway?!)
These things make a difference to a recipe. They make a difference to how the recipe turns out for you. That matters to me a lot when I post a recipe or write a cookbook. The recipe has to work for you or I have failed at my job.
A recipe is basically a scientific formula. The hypothesis is how you think it will taste. Hopefully, your results prove your hypothesis — yes, it does taste good! Your recipe/scientific formula is a good one if the same results can be achieved consistently by anyone.
(I learned that in 9th grade science class.)
In baking, one way that to achieve proper results is to measure accurately. This means that you will use a liquid measure for liquids. It also means you measure flour properly.
How to Measure Flour Properly
The best method for measuring flour is to weigh it on a food scale. Yes, really. I have had this food scale for years and I love it. But, it’s only recently that I’ve started to use it to measure four.
I read about this method in a cooking magazine about ten years ago and believe me, I was frustrated when I read it. I’m a lazy cook, remember? I gotta get out the scale? Blerg.
Yes, you do. The most accurate measure of flour is to weigh it on a food scale. There can be huge discrepancies between scoops of flour. You can really pack flour into a one-cup measure.
I tested it out last weekend. One cup of flour should measure 4.5 ounces. I filled a measuring cup several different ways and came out with varying weights, ranging as high as 5 ounces. Half an ounce could make a difference in the end result of your recipe.
So do it right, okay?
1. Weigh your flour.
Weighing your flour is your best best. 4.5 ounces per cup of flour needed for the recipe.
2. Aerate and spoon the floor.
The second best method is to aerate the flour bin with a whisk and then spoon the flour into the cup.
3. Don’t pack the flour into the cup or scoop WITH your measuring cup.
If you dip your measuring cup into your bin of flour you will inevitably end up with more flour than you really need for the recipe.
Next time you find yourself digging into the flour with your measuring cup, think again. That could totally throw off your recipe. Take a few minutes to do it the right way and your recipes will turn out better.