Weigh Flour For Better Baking

Baking requires precision; it's one of those cooking tasks where just throwing in a rough quantity rarely works. If you're attempting a new baked treat, weigh the flour and other dry ingredients rather than simply relying on cup measures.

Picture by advencap

Stephanie Alexander makes the point well in her legendary guide The Cook's Companion

I always weigh flour when baking as, depending on how one taps or tamps down the measuring cup, the quantity can vary considerably.

You can extend the principle to finding recipes too; given the choice, one with weights rather than cups is more likely to give you the right results. That won't always be the case when cooking — it's far less likely to be an issue with a casserole — but for baking it's a solid principle.


Comments

    Some of the best baking recipes passed down through generations rely on no precise measurement of anything, just a handful of this and a pinch of that.

    Precision is boring. Embrace your inner creative spirit!

    Yup, getting the quantities just right is crucial for baking. My bread-making efforts have been thwarted by differences in ingredient proportions that I can't really tell with inaccurate tools. An accurate set of scales is definitely on the shopping list!

      Agreed.

      Baking (whether it is yeast-based, pastry or cakes) is one part of cooking where there is little leeway for 'creative' measurement. I also weigh wet ingredients - and I should probably be weighing egg yolks and whites too (if I was going to adopt a consistent approach).

      After that, it is easy. Well easier.

      You still need to take care with oven temperatures (knowing the quirks of your oven helps) and know how to deal with situations where you either want to vary the quantity you're producing OR where you don't have the 'correct' pan/tin for the job.

      All fun and games until someone smells burning!

      Last edited 16/10/12 4:17 pm

        AND another thing...

        Not all measures are the same! Yet another reason to weigh everything.

        Imperial and American measurements can be identical - but often they are not. Neither match metric measures. Just to make matters worse, not even the humble tablespoon is sacred! The US tablespoon is equivalent to 3 teaspoons (~15ml). The Australian version is equivalent to 4 teaspoons (20ml). And misreading tablespoons and teaspoons is sure to end in tears. Likewise, muddling up the abbreviations (tbsp. and tsp. and variants) will help bring on the tears faster than chopping raw onion...

        Last edited 16/10/12 4:57 pm

    I've always though using cups as a measure was more of an American method. Most UK and Australian recipes I've seen have used ounces or grammes.

      I have never seen a single Australian recipe with ounces or grammes

    Definitely agree with Stephanie here.

    All very well to say "weigh the flour", but how much should I weigh...?

    This comes down to extremely useless advice in its current form.

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