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Flour Sifters


Chris Amirault
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Chris, I've never used a sieve one-handed, nor used one for sifting flour, so I may not be qualified to answer. Now that I've got that prevarication out of the way, I'll tell you what I think are the likely benefits:

1. The sieves I've seen have had a different geometry: either much wider and shallower (drum sieves) or, if you're including a standard strainer in the "sieve" category, almost hemispherical. Neither shape is as well-suited for rapid shaking of large volumes of material over a small area as the tall, narrow, nearly cylindrical shape of a sifter. My drum sieves might be good for shaking flour over a large bread-baking bowl, but if I tried to use one over my standard mixing bowl I'd have flour all over the counter. My strainers don't hold more than a cup of material at a time, and if I give one the same shaking motion that I can give my sifter I'll be spilling material over the top of the strainer, thereby bypassing the whole operation.

2. The Oxo to which I refer allows a very rapid hand motion, using only one hand. I think it must be because you're really shaking the internal scrapers (which are attached to the handle) instead of the entire mass of the sifter and flour; once you get going, the cylinder of the sifter doesn't move much. With a rigid sieve, you'll be moving the entire mass of flour and sieve; it's more tiring, and more prone to spillage. (If that doesn't make sense, ask - I'll restate, perhaps with some photos.)

3. I think the little scrapers atop the screen provide a bit better mechanical action than the simple friction of flour particles atop one another, as with a standard drum sieve or strainer. If nothing else they should break up some of the softer clumps that flour-on-flour friction wouldn't break.

Edited for (I hope) clarity

Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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  • 3 months later...

Update: got the Oxo sifter for my wife and she's been using it for months. Or, rather, she's had it for months. She's only used it a few times because she hates it. It's too slow and too small for her. Back to the sieves she's gone.

Chris Amirault

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Save for this topic on cleaning 'em (consensus: you don't need to clean 'em), there's nothing in eG Forums on flour sifters. I have a baker in the family who needs a new one that has a large capacity and can move quickly through a lot of flour. What're your recommendations?

Since I got an electronic scale, I have given up on sifting entirely. 4 oz. (by weight) = 1 C (by volume). For anyone who does serious baking, a scale with a tare function is much more useful than a sifter.

Jim

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Since I got an electronic scale, I have given up on sifting entirely. 4 oz. (by weight) = 1 C (by volume). For anyone who does serious baking, a scale with a tare function is much more useful than a sifter.

Jim

Having a scale does not preclude the need to sift.

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Save for this topic on cleaning 'em (consensus: you don't need to clean 'em), there's nothing in eG Forums on flour sifters. I have a baker in the family who needs a new one that has a large capacity and can move quickly through a lot of flour. What're your recommendations?

Since I got an electronic scale, I have given up on sifting entirely. 4 oz. (by weight) = 1 C (by volume). For anyone who does serious baking, a scale with a tare function is much more useful than a sifter.

Jim

I don't have a dedicated sifter, and use a strainer on the rare occasion I need to use one.

And a scale is essential for baking, as well as for Charcuterie.etc.

However, I find most conversions of weight are 150g

flour = 1 Cup... not 4 oz (113g). But...There is probably no real "correct"answer to that..

Bud

Bud

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Since I got an electronic scale, I have given up on sifting entirely. 4 oz. (by weight) = 1 C (by volume). For anyone who does serious baking, a scale with a tare function is much more useful than a sifter.

Jim

Having a scale does not preclude the need to sift.

Most sources I've googled indicate that it is unnecessary to sift flour if it has been weighed. There may be exceptions of which I'm not aware.

It appears that the purpose of sifting is to get a more accurate weight/volume measurement without weighing.

However, I find most conversions of weight are 150g

flour = 1 Cup... not 4 oz (113g). But...There is probably no real "correct"answer to that..

Bud

The 4 oz = 1 C measurement I mentioned came from King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook. Whatever works for you... I consider weight or volume measurements to be just be a good starting point.

Jim

Edited by jmcgrath (log)
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One purpose of sifting is to remove any little hard clumps in the dry ingredients and to evenly distribute the mix of dry ingredients evenly.

It really doesn't matter if you are baking an artisan bread. However, if you are making a fine-textured cake, having a hard bead of something inedible in it is not desirable.

I routinely sift everything and for a very good reason - safety.

At rare times over the years I have found in my sifter various foreign objects, for instance, staples, a push pin, a black pearl tie tack, a 1/4 caret diamond stud, various beads and small buttons, small rubber bands and a very pretty glass marble (which I still have).

On one occasion, the first scoop removed from a 25-pound bag of pastry flour produced an unopened pack of Zig-Zag cigarette papers. I dumped it right back into the bag and took it back to the store.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Most sources I've googled indicate that it is unnecessary to sift flour if it has been weighed. There may be exceptions of which I'm not aware.

It appears that the purpose of sifting is to get a more accurate weight/volume measurement without weighing.

Jim

In most cases, it isn't necessary to sift, but for some cakes, you should still sift. According to Rose Levy Beranbaum,

when making a genoise or sponge cake, where the flour is folded into the beaten eggs and sugar, then it is important to sift the flour so that it integrates more evenly and deflates the sponge less.

I very rarely sift flour when making anything (not because I don't think it's necessary, but because I'm lazy), and prefer to just whisk the dry ingredients to incorporate them. I do use a scale when I bake, and I try to convert all my volume-based recipes to weights. But I still sift when I know there's a need (like when making a lemon souffle cheesecake).

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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I have always used a sifter - this one http://www.fantes.com/images/3422sifters.jpg and love it. Mine is about 35 years old and not so shiny looking, but you get the idea. It sifts quickly with minimum effort.

I have tried a strainer, but end up with more flour on the counter top than in the bowl.

I always sift when I am making baked goods as I find it lightens the flour and ariates it.

Life is short, eat dessert first

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  • 2 months later...

I am looking for a sifter or sieve to make my own high extraction flour, as mentioned in "Bread Alone" and "Bread Baker's Apprentice" for several of the recipes. It should be able to remove most of the bran flakes from whole wheat flour leaving it with about 20% bran.

Can anyone recommend a specific model for doing this?

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