Flour Measuring Method – It Makes a Difference

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If you don’t bake much, or even if you do, you might not have given flour-measuring methods much thought. I was talking to one of my aunts at my recent family reunion and she mentioned that she had tried a recipe from the blog and it hadn’t turned out like she had expected. We tried troubleshooting after-the-fact and I think we narrowed it down to her flour measuring. She scooped, I sprinkled.

How do you measure a cup of flour? Scoop and level, sprinkle and level or even packed? I have even seen recipes that specify that you pack the flour in the cup, in a book no less. That is part of a series. Granted, they are those mystery novels with recipes included, but it is a long series, in hardback. Not exactly cookbooks, but still. I must say I haven’t tried any of the recipes. I just can’t bring myself to pack the flour into the measuring cup.

You might be surprised at the difference in weight between a scooped cup of flour and a cup filled with sprinkling. It could be up to a quarter of a cup, or more, per recipe. And that can mean the difference between a dry, heavy brick and a luscious, moist cake. I’m not going into the packing thing. It is just wrong, in my opinion. Can you tell it offends me just a bit? Or a lot?

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Many bakers will insist that you can’t bake accurately and get consistent results without weighing the ingredients out on a kitchen scale. I have one, and I use it, but not nearly as much as I could. And I am not going to advocate that the occasional baker go out and buy a scale. I don’t use mine very often and I make some pretty killer baked goods, if I say so myself.

It all comes down to finding out how the recipe writer measured his or her flour. If he or she developed the recipe with scoop and level, you are going to have issues if you sprinkle and level. And vice versa. Check out the introduction to cookbooks – often they specify. Or send the author a query, if you are cooking from a blog.

I use the same method to measure all the flour I use in baking. I stir the flour in my canister and then use my flour scoop or a spoon to sprinkle the flour into the measuring cup until it is overflowing. Then I use the back of a table knife to level the top. I am a little less precise with bread recipes, since I know I will have to adjust the flour amount when I am kneading the dough anyway, but I make sure I am not so slapdash when I am baking cakes, cookies or muffins.

How do you measure your flour?

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Homemade Mixes to the Rescue

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I don’t keep cake mixes or Bisquick in the house. I prefer to bake from scratch so I know exactly what is in my food, and because I like the results better. That is not to say that I don’t need the convenience of a mix sometimes.

Last Thursday evening I realized I had just set myself up for two days worth of baking on Friday. Of course, Friday is still only one day, so I was up a little creek without a paddle. I needed to bake Vanilla Shortbreads and Chocolate Oat Bars for church coffee hour treats on Sunday, make brownies and peach cobbler for a family gathering on Saturday and make something for a quick breakfast on Saturday, along with the biscuits I wanted to have with dinner on Friday.

I could have bought treats for church, made only one dessert for Saturday and changed the menu for dinner and breakfast, but I didn’t. I’m not sure if it has come through in my posts, but I can be just a tiny bit stubborn sometimes. I needed a plan to make it all work, with a minimum of stress.

Solution: homemade mixes. Thursday night I mixed up the dry ingredients for my muffins, the biscuits and the cobbler topping (basically biscuits with a bit of sugar). I cut the butter into the biscuit mix and cobbler topping and put those in the fridge. The muffin mix was fine to stay on the counter.

On Friday I mixed up my muffins in five minutes. The biscuits took even less time than that. I decided to take the cobbler mix and the peaches with me on Saturday, so we could have fresh, warm cobbler. And so I would have help peeling and slicing the peaches. I may be stubborn, but I never pass up extra helping hands. With three of my projects out of the way, I got my other baking done in no time.

Take a look at your favorite recipes and see which ones you can use to make your own mixes. The dry ingredients for muffins, quick breads and cakes can be mixed together and stored at room temperature almost indefinitely. Just be sure to label the container or bag, and list what is in it. Trust me, you think you will remember, but you won’t. Store biscuit mix in the fridge or freezer, since there is a chance that the added fat could go rancid if you leave them at room temperature.

What tricks do you have for saving time in the kitchen?