Baking Measurements to Familiarize Yourself With - Bob's Red Mill Blog
Baking Measurements to Familiarize Yourself With

Baking Measurements to Familiarize Yourself With

We've said this many times, and we'll say it a million more: baking is more of a science than an art. In cooking, you can often create delicious recipes with a handful of this and couple shakes of that, but in baking, imprecise measurements can be a disaster. A failed souffle could be due to something as small as a half teaspoon mismeasurement, so while you begin your baking journey, it is important to familiarize yourself with all the most common baking measurements and methods. This will help you build a good foundation for the rest of your baking career, and teach you how to convert recipes without being off by one tiny grain of flour! Keep reading to learn about some of the most common baking measurements, easy conversions, and tips for getting it right every time.

How to Measure Ingredients

No matter how many conversion charts you memorize, you'll still be a little off if you don't learn the proper ways to measure out your baking ingredients. Measuring for baking is definitely different than measuring for cooking, and it is important that you do it properly to avoid lumpy batters or unstructured pastries. The most important thing is to use a scale to weigh out your ingredients instead of measuring them with measuring cups every time. This will create greater accuracy and consistency in your measurements, as measurements can vary slightly over time. Invest in a good baking scale, and work on converting all of your favorite recipes to weight using the metric system. A lot of good baking recipes are written using the metric system, so you won't have to convert each and every recipe. To convert your ingredients to weight, simply measure them out three to five times each, and take the average weight of all of the times. Then note the weight measurement on your recipe and use that from now on. Remember to re-zero your scale after you add the bowl or plate that you put the ingredients in, as you do not want to account for the weight of that portion. You should also use a new cup or bowl every time, or thoroughly wash out the container, so that you do not have any pesky particles hanging around from the last ingredient.

Using the Right Container

If you are in the process of converting, try to use the right containers for measuring whenever possible. Dry ingredients like flour and sugar should be measured with dry ingredient cups, whereas liquids like milk and water should be measured with liquid measuring cups. For liquids, the line you want to measure is the bottom of the “meniscus,” which is where the bowl-shape of the liquid is at its lowest peak. The meniscus should rest on top of the line you measure to! For sticky ingredients like honey, a common problem is measuring the correct amount and then losing half of it in the pour, as it tends to stick to the measuring cup. Spray the inside of your measuring cup with a nonstick spray or oil to prevent this from happening. That way, you will get all that delicious gooey honey into your mixing bowl!

Measuring Flour

For flour, it is important not to scoop the flour directly into the measuring cup from the bag. This method can result in up to 50% more flour than you actually intended. The correct way to measure out flour is by spooning it into the measuring cup, without packing it down at all, and then using the flat side of a knife to scrape it level with the top of the measuring cup. Pay attention to special ingredient instructions as well. For instance, with flour, a recipe may call for “one cup sifted flour,” which is different from “one cup of flour, sifted.” In the first instruction, the recipe suggests that you need to sift the flour and then measure out one cup of it. On the other hand, the second direction calls for one cup of flour to measured out and then sifted. Mistaking things like this can leave you with way more or less of an ingredient than you need, especially in the case of flour, which will be your most common resource in baking. If you are alternating or substituting different types of flour, make sure you read up on the correct substitutions. Not all flours are created equal and not all flours react similarly in every recipe, so you will not be able to make some flour substitutions, and others you may need special instructions to execute successfully.

Baker’s Percentages

You may also encounter what is called a “baker’s percentage,” which is mostly used in bread making. The baker’s percentage means how much of a certain ingredient is used in comparison to the amount of flour. Using baker’s percentages allows you to scale your recipe up or down without losing the key ratio of ingredients that make it work. Baker’s percentages are not necessary by any means, but you can use them to make your bread recipes specifically more flexible!

The Metric System

We recommended earlier that you convert all of your units to the metric system. Of course, this only really applies if you live in the United States, or are sourcing recipes from the United States. The metric system is better for bakers because you can source ingredients from around the world, and conversions are typically a little easier in metric than in the American system. The metric system includes one base unit of measurement for each type of measurement (volume, length, distance, and weight, for instance), and that base unit is modified by prefixes in levels of 10. So 100 centimeters make up a meter, and 1,000 grams make up a kilogram. In theory, you can get more consistent measurements with the metric system than the American system as well, and many baking scales are already calibrated to the metric system.  Thus, if you can familiarize yourself with these measurements, you can make following baking recipes quick and easy!

Pay Attention to Units

As we have demonstrated, small mistakes can produce big errors when baking. If you are cooking stir fry and misread a tablespoon as a teaspoon, you likely will not notice too much of a difference in the final dish--or, it will be easy to compensate by adding more of the other ingredients. In baking, things are completely different, because timing and ratios are so important. So pay special attention to the units that your recipe calls for, as they may be different from ingredient to ingredient. A couple that you should pay special attention to are listed below.

Teaspoons and Tablespoons:

This one seems as simple as pie, but in fact, it can lead to a totally screwed up pie! The two words are so similar that your eyes can definitely play tricks on you, especially when abbreviated. A teaspoon can be abbreviated as tsp or lowercase t, whereas Tablespoon can be abbreviated as Tbsp or uppercase T (like that is not confusing!). So if you are unsure of a measurement, just take a second to look it up--trust us, it can save your pie!

Ounces and Fluid Ounces:

Ounces and fluid ounces can be confusing, because, well, they both have the word ounce in them. However, ounces are a measurement of weight, meaning that an ounce measures a solid substance’s weight on a scale. On the other hand, fluid ounces are a measure of volume, so they measure how much of a cup is filled up by the liquid. Making this conversion can be a difficult calculation of density and other factors, so we recommend paying special attention to which type of ounce your ingredient calls for!

Celsius and Fahrenheit:

This is another example of the metric system and American systems confusing us way too much! We always recommend converting your measurements into the metric system for consistency, but temperatures are a little different. If you live in the United States, you most likely have an oven that is measured in Fahrenheit, so it is best to keep your recipes on that temperature scale to avoid any confusion. However, if you download new recipes in the metric system, sometimes you can forget to do the conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit, and let me tell you, that is a mistake you will not want to make twice!

No matter where you are on your baking journey, the measurement part is undoubtedly one of the most important steps for any recipe you are making! The interactions of the ingredients and their ratios should be as precise as possible to maintain consistent, delicious results. If you come across an unfamiliar term in cooking, sometimes you can ignore it (not me, of course not! I would never), but in baking, you will thank yourself later if you take the time to look it up and carefully convert it to the right units. Let us know what your favorite baking measurements tools are in the comments below!

14 Comments

  1. Sue Sandahl
    Can the 1 to 1 gluten free Bob's red mill flour be substituted for pre-sifted wheat flour in my yeast cinnamon roll recipe? I tried it and the dough is very heavy and did not rise.
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Unfortunately that won't work as well. Our gluten free 1 to 1 flour was formulated to work well with quickbread, cakes, and cookies. We have a recipe specialist on staff that can help you with flour exchanges. You can reach her at 800-349-2173. We hope that will help!
      Reply
  2. Paul Atlas
    I use your flour and some of your major competitors also. I measure everything by weight but one thing confuses me. The weight of a cup of Your AP flour is much different then KA AP flour as stated on the bags. Here is my question. I have recipes that call for a cup of AP Flour or (5 ounces /141 grams). Your AP is 136 grams. Since the recipe doesn't say what brand to use, would I use 5 ounces of your AP flour even thought the weight is different. I is even more confusing when using a recipe from the King Arthur site since their cup of flour is only 4 1/4 ounces per cup.
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Hi Paul, we highly recommend you call and speak with our recipe specialist. She can help you with in depth questions like this. You can reach her at 800-349-2173.
      Reply
  3. TATYANNA VANDER
    Today, I will (attempt) piroshki made with leftover carrots from crock pot chuck roast.
    Reply
  4. JJ
    Do you have weight conversions for your flour
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Hi JJ, we don’t have a list of weights for our flours, but this information can be found on the nutritional label under serving size. For example, ¼ cup of our Unbleached White All Purpose Flour (1 serving) weighs 34 grams so you can use this information to calculate the weight of 1 cup (34x4=136 grams). All of our flours will have the weight of one serving on the label which is usually ¼ cup. We hope that helps.
      Reply
  5. Kay Elliott
    How many cups are in 1 16 oz package of Bob's 1:1 flour for pie crust? Since there are 8 oz in 1 cup I would expect 2 cups but after reading about measuring flour above is that correct? For 1 pie crust it says to use 1/2 package...it is hard to judge 1/2 package without taking it all out and measuring the cups in it and then measuring 1/2. It would be nice to have that on the package i.e. 1 16 oz package = two cups or whatever it is.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Kay, a 16 oz bag of our Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix contains approximately 2 1/2 cups of product. Half the bag would be 1 1/4 cups.
      Reply
  6. CHN
    Do you have a straightforward chart of cups to ounces/grams of your products? For example, how much does one cup of Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour weigh? I think many people would find this information very helpful; I know I would. Thank you.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi! Unfortunately no, we do not have a chart with all of our flour information but will pass along your feedback to our team here. In the mean time, you can find this information from the nutritional panels, simply multiply the serving size and gram weight to equate 1 cup's worth.
      Reply
  7. Jane
    Agree with CHN. Every brand's ingredients weight differently. It would be very useful if you can have an Ingredient Weight Chart. King Arthur flour have that on their website!!!
    Reply
  8. Lil
    I am searching for weights of your flour products. I weigh everything and that makes a big difference in my bread maker. Currently I want to do a whole wheat loaf but don't spot the information on your website. I note that others have asked for the same information so I hope that in addition to answering my question you can develop a chart--it would be extremely useful.

    Thank you for your help!
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi! Thanks for your input - we now have one here on our blog :)

      Bob's Red Mill Flour Weight Chart
      Reply

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