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?
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?