Tips on Measuring Flour

Flour being weighed on a kitchen scale.

Over the weekend, I interviewed Jen, who runs Beantown Baker, for my Reinventing the News final project. While watching her make brownies, she gave me a tip on how to add flour to recipes.

Flour, she told me, can be extremely dense. If you use the method most people use, which is just reaching into your container or the bag of flour itself and scoop, then level it off, oftentimes you’ll actually end up with much more flour than is necessary. Recipes like cookies and brownies are usually written to handle such a method, and that extra flour probably won’t hurt the recipe too much.

For most baked goods, however, the difference an ounce of extra flour makes can be the difference between a great dessert and a dry, heavy dessert.

Jen showed me how she measures flour, which is by stirring up the flour, then taking a small spoon and spooning small amounts of flour into the measuring cup. When she’s done, she levels the cup off with a straightedge.

This morning, the Daily Dish, the L.A. Times’ food blog, had a post from the Times’ test kitchen giving tips on how to measure flour. The post talks about how varied results can be with different methods of measuring, and suggests investing in a kitchen scale.

This short video from how2heroes has King Arthur Flour’s Susan Reid showing how different methods yield different results: a cup of flour should measure 4.25 ounces, but the “scoop and level” method resulted in 5.25 ounces of flour.

A kitchen scale isn’t really in my baking budget right now (nor do I have the space to store it), but in the future, I will definitely try and avoid scooping. Hopefully I’ll notice a difference.

Photo (cc) courtesy Boris Mann under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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One Response to Tips on Measuring Flour

  1. June says:

    I can’t believe that I could end up with a full ounce more of flour by doing the scoop technique! I often do a cookie recipe that calls for three cups of flour; now I realize, I am putting in 3 ounces or 3/16th of a pound of flour more than I should. Thanks for the tips Gail!

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