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Converting Cups (Volume) of Flour to Ounces (Weight)


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#1 Shel_B

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 09:32 PM

As noted elsewhere over the past couple of days, I am going to try my hand at baking bread.  Having read a bit about the subject, it seems that many people feel better results can be had by weighing the flour rather than using volume measurements such as cups.

 

I came across this conversion chart today and I'm wondering if the conversions shown are accurate enough to use when getting started on this new project.  Any comments on the conversion figures?  Any suggestions WRT measuring flour?  Thanks!

 

http://www.preparedp...ups-ounces.aspx


Edited by Shel_B, 02 January 2014 - 09:33 PM.

.... Shel


#2 liuzhou

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 10:02 PM

Have you read the eG Kitchen-Scale Manifesto?

 

It pretty much explains why your question is really impossible to answer. To quote, "The amount of flour in a cup can vary as much as 25% depending on how it is packed."

Use weight rather than cups for precision. Metric is probably better, too.


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#3 minas6907

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 10:08 PM

Agreed with the above. There can never be a perfectly consistant answer since it will vary if its packed tightly or sifted when measuring in volume. The guideline I use is from the book Food for Fifty. Generally 4 cups flour equals 1lb.

#4 Shel_B

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 10:14 PM

Have you read the eG Kitchen-Scale Manifesto?

 

It pretty much explains why your question is really impossible to answer. To quote, "The amount of flour in a cup can vary as much as 25% depending on how it is packed."

Use weight rather than cups for precision. Metric is probably better, too.

 

I understand that cups can be packed differently.  I've experienced it myself.   If one is to use weights, there must be some standard or reasonable approximation to convert a cup measurement to weight.  Most US recipes use cup measurements, so how do I, as you suggest, "use weight rather than cups for precision" when the recipe calls for cups? 


.... Shel


#5 liuzhou

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 10:24 PM

Most US recipes use cup measurements, so how do I, as you suggest, "use weight rather than cups for precision" when the recipe calls for cups? 

 

 

The manifesto goes into conversion in great detail.


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#6 Anna N

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 03:01 AM

Have you read the eG Kitchen-Scale Manifesto?
 
It pretty much explains why your question is really impossible to answer. To quote, "The amount of flour in a cup can vary as much as 25% depending on how it is packed."
Use weight rather than cups for precision. Metric is probably better, too.

 
I understand that cups can be packed differently.  I've experienced it myself.   If one is to use weights, there must be some standard or reasonable approximation to convert a cup measurement to weight.  Most US recipes use cup measurements, so how do I, as you suggest, "use weight rather than cups for precision" when the recipe calls for cups?

I am not being facetious but, as one who initially struggled with bread, find yourself a recipe that uses weights to begin with. There are thousands out there and it eliminates one variable as you try to perfect your bread. Once you are familiar with the whole process and know how the dough should feel and when it is properly proofed and baked then you can worry about coverting volume to weight.
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#7 Bill Klapp

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 03:05 AM

Listen to these people, Shel.  Either use imprecise recipes that call for cups, or use weight.  For serious baking, there is NO chance that you will get the best results by measuring.  The weather on any given day can destroy your dough, so measuring cups with a potential 25% weight variance can do much worse.  Ounces vs. metric is no big deal.  There is at least a fixed conversion possibility there...


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#8 weinoo

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 05:55 AM

Here's a good thread.


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#9 rotuts

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 06:38 AM

you wont go wrong starting at K.A.F.:

 

http://www.kingarthu...medium=redirect

 

they convert to lbs/oz

 

each book/ site will give slightly different conversions.... which should be consistent w their Rx's  ....

 

if they bothered to check them.

 

I use KAF but converted them to grams and wrote it down.

 

if you can get the 'Untimate' bread books:  ed 1 and 2 at your lib look them over.  big time thread here on that technique.

 

if you look from site to site you might see the sl difference in vol / weight  equivalents.

 

assume you have a decent scale?  BB$B has a ton:

 

http://www.bedbathan...d=kitchen scale

 

test kitchen like the ones w the pull out read out as its a bit easier to see 

 

but I got my salter before that and have had no problem w it.


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#10 weinoo

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 06:55 AM

King Arthur uses 4.25 oz. for 1 cup A/P.

 

Cook's Illustrated uses 5.0 oz. for 1 cup A/P

 

I use 4.75 oz. for 1 cup A/P

 

Since it falls approximately in the middle.  Measurements are much more important (imo) for pastry baking than they are for bread baking, where you can compensate based upon how the dough feels, once you gain the experience of working with bread doughs.


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#11 Norm Matthews

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 07:37 AM

Shel-B the chart you referenced looks as good as any for a start but measuring by weight will only give you consistent results, not guaranteed good results.  When it comes to making bread dough, I don't measure flour. I add the flour to the mixer until it is the right consistency.  That way I can change the basic recipe by adding eggs, fats, or substituting some or part of the liquid for another and still use the right amount of flour by sight and feel.  I think that is the best way to go but it takes some experience before you get to that point.


Edited by Norm Matthews, 03 January 2014 - 07:47 AM.

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#12 Shel_B

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 09:25 AM

Shel-B the chart you referenced looks as good as any for a start but measuring by weight will only give you consistent results, not guaranteed good results.  When it comes to making bread dough, I don't measure flour. I add the flour to the mixer until it is the right consistency.  That way I can change the basic recipe by adding eggs, fats, or substituting some or part of the liquid for another and still use the right amount of flour by sight and feel.  I think that is the best way to go but it takes some experience before you get to that point.

 

Thank you for directly answering my question.  All I'm looking for is a reasonable place to start since I have no real experience baking.

 

One of the breads I'd like to get around to making is brioche.  I've collected a number of brioche recipes, including recipes from Rose Levy Beranbaum, Paula Wolfert, Julia Child, and a fellow by the name of Norm Matthews.  All the recipes use cup measurements, not weight.


Edited by Shel_B, 03 January 2014 - 11:31 AM.

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.... Shel


#13 Shel_B

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 09:39 AM

you wont go wrong starting at K.A.F.:

 

http://www.kingarthu...medium=redirect

 

they convert to lbs/oz

 

 

Thanks for the pointer!  I was at the KAF site but didn't see that chart.  Very helpful.  All I need is a place to start that has reasonable conversion info.

 

I don't have a scale ... yet.  There are some threads here about scales, have to reread them.


Edited by Shel_B, 03 January 2014 - 09:41 AM.

.... Shel


#14 Lisa Shock

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 10:39 AM

Start with weight based formulas. That's what professional bakeries use. Anyone putting out volume-based formulas isn't serious about quality; GIGO.

 

If you want  to invest in a bread baking book, I strongly recommend Ciril Hitz's books. He also has some great youtube videos.


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#15 Shel_B

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 10:57 AM

Start with weight based formulas. That's what professional bakeries use. Anyone putting out volume-based formulas isn't serious about quality; GIGO.

 

 

Unfortunately, just about all the bread recipes I have use cups, not weight, and I'd hate to toss them all out just because they don't use weight.  These are recipes I've been collecting since 1967, when I got my very first recipe from a little café in Durango, Colorado.


.... Shel


#16 rotuts

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 11:08 AM

Not a problem.  just use a 'sample group w the conversion system of your choice', then keep a few notes each time your bake something.  by using weight, you've just cancelled out the variabilities of your own 'hand' in the cup-scooping dept.


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#17 gfweb

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 02:02 PM

King Arthur's book is worthwhile too.



#18 keychris

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 07:15 PM

 

Unfortunately, just about all the bread recipes I have use cups, not weight, and I'd hate to toss them all out just because they don't use weight.

 

You could just measure out the volume of the ingredients, weigh what they are, make some notes and bake away. Then next time you bake the same recipe, use the weights, changing what needs to be changed depending on how you initial bake went.


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#19 djyee100

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 09:57 PM

Others have said this, I agree, learn to judge the consistency of bread dough to know it's right. For a lean bread dough (unbleached flour, yeast, salt, water), I look for a firm dough that springs into a rounded shape after it is kneaded. When you touch the surface of the dough with your finger, it is slightly tacky like scotch tape. The dough should not be so moist as to stick like paste to your finger, nor dry and hard from too much flour.

How much breadbaking have you done? I would not recommend starting with brioche, which you mentioned upthread. Brioche is tricky because of the large amt of butter and eggs that it contains. Also, for proper mixing and kneading of this heavy dough, working with a stand mixer is best. Anybody else with ideas about brioche?


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#20 JoNorvelleWalker

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 10:24 PM

I haven't made brioche in decades but when I did it was a recipe from Cuisinart for the Cuisinart.  I'm sure the quantities were in cups, though Cuisinart gives an equivalent of 5 ounces per cup of flour.  For what it's worth the brioche from that recipe was really good, and I made this in the 1980's before I got seriously into baking bread.  It seemed pretty easy at the time.

 

I'd make it again but I would have to get my mold retinned.  That, or find a glass one.



#21 JeanneCake

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 11:37 AM

 


 

One of the breads I'd like to get around to making is brioche.  I've collected a number of brioche recipes, including recipes from Rose Levy Beranbaum, Paula Wolfert, Julia Child, and a fellow by the name of Norm Matthews.  All the recipes use cup measurements, not weight.

 

 

 

RLB always has a chart in her books with ingredients listed by volume, by weight (avoirdupois) and in metric (grams) - perhaps start with her recipe and use her chart for comparison when you bake from the other recipes...



#22 Lisa Shock

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 02:34 PM

 

Start with weight based formulas. That's what professional bakeries use. Anyone putting out volume-based formulas isn't serious about quality; GIGO.

 

 

Unfortunately, just about all the bread recipes I have use cups, not weight, and I'd hate to toss them all out just because they don't use weight.  These are recipes I've been collecting since 1967, when I got my very first recipe from a little café in Durango, Colorado.

 

 

Classic example of the Dunning Kruger effect creating a 'blind leading the blind' situation. The books I referenced are from a bread baker who has won gold medals at recent world-level baking competitions in addition to many national-level competitions. Those competitions are incrementally more difficult to enter (nevermind winning) than they were 20 years ago, because the state of the art has undergone immense improvement.


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#23 Norm Matthews

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 03:36 PM

Professional bakers don't bake two loaves at a time either.  even weight based recipes from one kitchen won't necessarily transfer seamlessly to another.


Edited by Norm Matthews, 05 January 2014 - 03:48 PM.

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#24 annabelle

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 05:20 PM

Lisa, I have certainly found that (Dunning-Kruger Effect) to be the case when teaching my children to cook.  Rather than tackle simple tasks, they want to make something with 45 ingredients.


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#25 Lisa Shock

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 06:54 PM

Professional bakers don't bake two loaves at a time either.  even weight based recipes from one kitchen won't necessarily transfer seamlessly to another.

 

True, but, they (weight based recipes) have a better chance of working than recipes based on volume measurement. We're all working with differences in humidity, altitude, wheat varieties, water hardness, yeast strains, friction factor of our mixer, etc. Experience teaches each of us to know exactly how to get the best possible result from our ingredients and kitchens. Recipes, for those who choose to write them, communicate our experience to others. Volumetric measure of dry ingredients in a recipe lets me know immediately that the author routinely accepts a level of random variation and inaccuracy in the final product which I myself, and most of the civilized world, consider unacceptable.

 

And, Chef Hitz's books are designed as an introduction to bread baking for home cooks, not professional kitchens. -He does teach professional classes and offer formulas for professional use, just not in those books.



#26 pbear

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 08:17 PM

 

Start with weight based formulas. That's what professional bakeries use. Anyone putting out volume-based formulas isn't serious about quality; GIGO.

 

 

Unfortunately, just about all the bread recipes I have use cups, not weight, and I'd hate to toss them all out just because they don't use weight.  These are recipes I've been collecting since 1967, when I got my very first recipe from a little café in Durango, Colorado.

 

 

Important to know.  If you're using recipes based on volume, you generally have no way of knowing how much flour by weight the person writing the recipe was using.  This, as you mention yourself, would depend on how they handled the flour when measuring.  The only reason to convert such recipes to by-weight is that you find it more convenient to work by weight.  It's not going to add any precision.  Rather, the converstion charts are intended for going the other direction, i.e., to convert a recipe by weight to one by volume because one doesn't have a scale.

 

As for the chart linked in the OP, I will mention that I find a cup of bread flour and a cup of all purpose both weigh about 5 oz.  That's using the stir-and-scoop method, which is actually pretty consistent.  The chart says AP weighs half-an-ounce less per cup, which isn't my experience.  I do bread by weight now, but did a lot of tests when converting my old tried-and-true recipes using volume.  Of which speaking, the main reason I switched to a scale is that I got tired of counting errors.  It's easier and more consistent, but not essential IMHO.


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#27 Lisa Shock

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 12:16 AM

 

Scales have been used in kitchens, including American ones, since the invention of the scale, several thousand years ago. I own cookbooks dating back to the early 1700s that use weight based measurement. My mother owns a kitchen scale with date in the 1840s stamped on it. Farmers, tradesmen, professional cooks, and many others used scales in their homes and businesses on a daily basis to buy and sell commodities and wares.

 

Sometime around 1900, US publishers decided to drop weight based measurement while publishers in the Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Russia, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Greece, Japan, China, Korea, The Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and many more countries continued to publish weight-based recipes for home and professional use.

 

The recipes he wants to convert aren't really all that old, they are, however, poorly written by authors who did not take advantage of readily available technology. Would you sous vide meat to done-ness based upon just the feel of the meat compared to the feel of the base of your thumb, without the use of any thermometers? If you found a recipe written telling you to just use touch instead of a thermometer in sous vide would you trust it more than tips from a chef instructor with years of experience using thermometers who tells you to use a thermometer for more accurate results? Would you keep asking questions of the chef about your ongoing inaccurate results using the thumb method after ignoring his advice several times? That would be Dunning-Kruger in action.


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#28 pbear

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 12:28 AM

Come, now.  Of about two dozen variables affecting production of a good loaf of home made bread, precision in measuring the flour is about number twenty-three.


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#29 Albert

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 02:48 AM

But i think there is not a proper scale that convert the Volume of cup into an exact weight for any of your recipe.But in some case when you have the same weight for a specific volume and the weight remain the same for each measurement.



#30 pbear

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 05:25 PM

BTW, to amplify slightly on my prior comment, what I mean by precision is this.  My basic bread recipe uses one pound of bread flour (1 lb, exactly).  In my observation (using a scale), that works out to about 3 c plus 3 tbsp by the stir-and-scoop method.  As everyone here recognizes, though, if one relies solely on the volume method, it's generally not going to hit 1 lb exactly.  It's gonna be a bit high or a bit low.  I'm saying this variance, while real, affects the final product very little (assuming one is doing stir-and-scoop correctly).  That opinion is based on having done bread by volume for many years, before switching to a scale.