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Wondering about the best methods for measuring flour? We show you two good ways to do it, which is better, and why.
Measuring flour properly: Why it matters
There are two basic ways to measure flour: by weight and by volume. When you measure by weight, you're guaranteed consistent results. When you measure by volume, it can be a real crapshoot. The actual amount of flour in a cup of flour can vary by upwards of 50 grams depending on how you do it.
This matters because if you end up with substantially more flour in your recipe than it calls for, it will be too dry and dense, among other potential problems. And you'll never see it coming, having followed the recipe exactly.
When you can, measure by weight. But if you need to measure by volume, we'll show you how.
The best way to measure flour: weigh it on a digital scale
A digital kitchen scale is the best gift you can give yourself to simplify and improve your baking. This tool is relatively inexpensive, and you'll find lots of ways to use it. We leave ours out on the counter and use it pretty much every day.
Weighing flour is very simple. Place a bowl on the scale and "tare" or zero it so the weight of your bowl won't be counted. Then simply spoon flour into the bowl to reach the specified weight.
Grams are much, much smaller than ounces, so it's best to measure in metric. See the section below for a conversion chart.
How to measure flour by volume
Ideally, a recipe that lists measurements by volume will tell you exactly how they want you to to measure the flour. For example, we always try to say "spooned and leveled" in our baking recipes. However, it doesn't always go down like that.
We think there's a much greater risk of adding too much flour than too little, so when not measuring by weight, we default to the spoon and level method.
The spoon and level method
To spoon and level your flour:
- Start by fluffing up the flour a bit with a spoon, right in the bag or container.
- Next, spoon it lightly into your measuring cup until it's heaped up over the top.
- Then run the flat back edge of a butter knife over the top of the cup, making contact with the cup's rim, to level off the flour exactly. That's it!
Weight and volume conversions for flour and sugar
You can use this easy guide to convert flour and sugar from weight to volume. Keep in mind that ounces here are a measure of weight. They're different from fluid ounces, which measure the volume of liquids.
- All-purpose flour: 1 cup = 120 grams = 4.25 ounces
- Bread flour: 1 cup = 120 grams = 4.25 ounces
- Whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour) 1 cup = 113 grams = 4 ounces
- Self-rising flour: 1 cup = 113 grams = 4 ounces
- Granulated sugar: 1 cup = 198 grams = 7 ounces
- Brown sugar, packed: 1 cup = 213 grams = 7.5 ounces
- Confectioners sugar: 1 cup = 113 grams = 4 ounces
- Any kind of flour
- Digital scale OR
- Measuring and butter knife
- To weigh flour: Place a bowl onto a digital scale and press the button to zero or "tare" the display. (This means the weight of the bowl won't be counted.) For the most accurate measurement, set display to metric. Spoon flour into bowl until you reach the weight specified in the recipe. That's it!
- To spoon and level flour: If you don't have a digital kitchen scale, the next-best option is to spoon and level your flour. Start by aerating the flour in the bag or container — fluff it up a bit with your spoon so it's not too dense. Then spoon it lightly into a measuring cup until it's heaped over the top. Run the back of a butter knife over the top to level.
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