If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve probably seen me talk about the CORRECT way of how to measure flour at one time or another.
How you measure your baking ingredients can make or break your success in the kitchen.
It’s actually kind of crazy just how critical this one step can be! I see SO many frustrated comments and messages from you guys asking what could have went wrong when a recipe doesn’t turn out. I would venture to say at least 50% of the time (probably more) it’s due to measurement issues.
The easiest ingredient to mis-measure is flour. That’s because it can be so easily compacted into a container or measuring cup without you even realizing.
Basically, it’s all too easy to accidentally add more flour than the recipe actually calls for. You can also mis-measure other ingredients, but flour is the most common and most damaging if measured wrong. This can yield baking results that are:
- Dry (instead of moist)
- Dense (instead of light and fluffy)
- Crumbly (instead of moist, chewy, or fudgy)
- Tough (instead of tender)
- Rubbery (instead of delicate)
AKA… results that no one wants!
Luckily with a few simple tricks it’s easy to improve your baking by learning how to measure your flour accurately. I’ve laid it all out in the video and instructions below. If you follow these guidelines EACH time you bake a recipe, you’ll see much more consistent results.
How to Measure Flour
Why is it important to measure flour correctly?
Here’s a visual example. The cookie on the left was made by measuring flour with a scale, the one on the right was made with a compacted cup of flour. Those cookies ended up being dry and tough, and hardly spread out:
Do you measure flour before or after sifting?
Whether to measure flour before or after sifting depends on how the ingredient is called for in the recipe. For example, if the recipe calls for “1 cup flour, sifted,” measure the flour first and then sift. If a recipe calls for “1 cup sifted flour,” sift the flour first, then measure.
Fluff Your Flour!
The first step to measuring flour is to fluff up your flour in its container or bag. Simply take a spoon or fork and fluff the flour around inside to loosen it up.
Measuring with a Scale
Measuring with a scale gives you 100% accuracy. It also dirties less dishes because you aren’t using a bunch of measuring cups. Simply press the zero / tare button to return the weight to zero before adding each new ingredient. The video above demonstrates this fully.
Use my free measuring chart so you know how much 1 cup each basic baking ingredient weighs. Click here to download the chart.
1 cup of every ingredient will NOT weigh 8 ounces. That’s because different ingredients have different densities.
If that’s confusing, think of it like this: 1 cup of rocks would not weigh the same as 1 cup of feathers. That might be an extreme example, but as you’ll see once you download the chart, every ingredient has a sightly different density.
The majority of my baking recipes here on Handle the Heat include weight measurements in grams. I find grams to be the easiest unit to work with. Use the chart if you’re unsure of how much an ingredient weighs, or if you’re following a recipe that doesn’t offer weight measurements.
This chart is actually an abbreviated version to get you started. There’s a larger one with more ingredient measurements within the Magic of Baking online class. There’s actually a TON more info about measuring and flour specifically in the class!
Spoon & Level Method
If you don’t have a kitchen scale, this is the second best way to measure flour. This method helps to ensure you don’t accidentally compact too much flour into your measuring cup.
For this method, you’ll place a spoon into a flour container or bag, scoop the flour into your measuring cup until you have a tall mound, then use a knife or sharp object to level off the excess flour. Step by step photos below.
Do NOT place a measuring cup directly into your flour bag or container as you will pack in too much flour.
How to Measure Flour with a Scale:
- Use a spoon or fork to fluff up your flour before measuring from your bag or container. Flour easily settles and compacts into its container, which can make it easy to add too much to your recipe.
- Place a large bowl on top of a digital scale. Press the zero / tare button on the scale to return the weight to zero before weighing your flour.
- Spoon flour from a bag or container into the bowl until you reach the desired amount.
How to Measure Flour with the Spoon & Level Method:
- Use a spoon or fork to fluff up your flour before measuring from your bag or container.
- Spoon the flour into your measuring cup until you have a tall mound. Do NOT place a measuring cup directly into your flour bag or container as you will yield too much flour.
- Use a flat sided object, like a knife, to scrape the excess flour back into the container.
Recipes You’ll Love:
Now that you’ve learned one of the most critical how-to’s for baking, make sure to check out some of my top recipes!
- Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chewy Brownies
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Doughnuts
- Best Chocolate Cake
Photos by Lauren Peachie.
I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)
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