A few years back I decided I was going to start measuring ingredients by weight for all my baking. I bought an OXO food scale and plunged into the world of pounds and ounces, and it completely transformed the way I bake. To this day, that scale is one of the best kitchen purchases I've ever made. Measuring the traditional way (by volume, with cups) works, but it's a flawed system. Ingredients are more likely to be measured incorrectly, which can potentially throw off a recipe completely. Flour in particular is one of the easiest ingredients to mis-measure, and at the same time one of the most important to measure correctly in order to ensure the success of a recipe. SO, if you don't own a scale, it's crucial that you measure your flour properly by hand. Today we're learning how to do that!
Why I recommend weighing your flour
You can measure flour without a scale, but it's SO much easier with one. If you purchase a good one it'll last you years, and you get rewarded with less measuring cups dirtied, greater measuring accuracy, and more foolproof baking. It also makes it easier to understand how recipes work; once you can learn the basic ratio of ingredients by weight for different types of recipes, it's much simpler to make substitutions and even come up with your own recipes from scratch.
How much does a cup of flour weigh?
There's some discrepancy over how much a single cup of flour should weigh (which just goes to show why weighing your ingredients is the much simpler route, since 1 pound will always be 1 pound), but most sources will figure it somewhere between 4 ¼ - 4 ½ ounces. All the recipes you find on this blog will equate 4 ¼ ounces to 1 cup of flour. This isn't something you need to be concerned with if you're creating your own recipe or following one with weight measurements already listed, but in the event that the recipe you're looking at is written in volume measurements only, you're much better off whipping out a scale and weighing out 4 ¼ ounces for every cup called for. The same really goes for every ingredient in a recipe, but flour is one of the most crucial.
Measuring flour without a scale
Now, if you ARE going to measure your flour by hand, here's how it's done.
5 minutes 5 minutes
How to measure flour accurately without a kitchen scale:
- Whisk your flour.
Give your flour a good whisk to loosen it up; flour has a habit of settling and compacting, and one thing you never want to do is measure out a packed cup of flour.
- Spoon into a measuring cup.
Lightly spoon flour into your measuring cup. You don't want to scoop it straight into the cup because that'll cause that compacting that we don't want.
- Step 3: Level
Use a knife to swipe away the excess flour and level off your cup.
Once all is said and done, you should have a cup of flour that's properly measured. We call this the spoon-and-level method, and you'll see that specified for measuring flour in every recipe on the blog.