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Shel_B

Measuring Flour

34 posts in this topic

Im metric, I  measure my flour by deciliters and liters and so far it works perfect for cakes, cookies and breads.  A  deciliter is 100 ml and it is a fixed point  not  like a cup that can be anything from 125 ml  up to 250 ml, depending from which country and era the recipe comes from. Butter how ever  comes in grams and so does yeast which makes sense,  trying to push butter into a cup isnt easy.


Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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This is quite an interesting discussion, and I include the slight deviations off topic. Reading a recipe that has measurements in cups is actually quite difficult due to the different definitions of a cup in different locations around the world. For instance, a cup in America is defined as 8 fluid ounces, which is equal to 236ml (as close as necessary for this discussion). However, a metric cup is defined as 250ml. Then we had (still have?) the Imperial cup, which is defined as 284ml.

So, I have a recipe that I know comes from the US and thus I can figure out how to convert it to weight. I can also get an old recipe book and see that it originated in the UK, and be able to convert to weight.

But, we have this fantastic electronic system called the Internet, which is helping screw up recipes. Let me take an example. A food magazine hires a couple of "graphic artists", fresh out of collage. These kids are good in what they do and can manipulate and mockup great looking pages in a magazine, with a couple clicks of a mouse. So, I tell them that they need to get me two recipes each for chocolate cakes. And off they go and search the Internet and return with a couple recipes each, together with a bunch of shutterstock photographs. Does the magazine actually test all the recipes? Actually, most appear not to. They may do one or two to get some good photographs. Have the recipes been converted - I mean the recipes may have come from a French site using metric cups and the youngster (who may not even know how to boil an egg, never mind bake a cake), does not know that the size of an American cup is smaller than a metric cup. You then come along and think the recipe sounds great and bake the cake and it is a flop.

Shel_B state up thread:

However, today, while looking through some recipes to decide what to bake this weekend, I discovered that using ATK's and CI's recipes, a cup of AP flour came in with widely varying weights: 5 recipes gave the weight of a cup of flour at 4.25-oz, 5.5-oz, 4.5-oz, 4.16-oz, and 5.0-oz. That's a pretty big variation of weight for a cup of flour. And KA flour came in with two weights for a cup of their AP flour: 4.16-oz and 4.25-oz.

Maybe the difference in the weights in these recipes was due to the source of the recipes - some from the US, Canada, England, France, Australia, etc. and the writer of the recipe did the conversion using the known cup size used in that country and actually tested the recipes.

What I am rambling on about, is that the source of a recipe needs to be taken into consideration when converting a "cup" to weight.

Also, Lisa Shock's comment is spot on:

The metric system rocks. You never have to calculate 7/5ths of 16. All the math flows easily in your head.

It really is high time that all publications of recipes publish by weight, and preferably using the metric system. All publications I come across out of the US that are for the professional chef are in metric weight, and have been for as long as I can remember. A kitchen scale is, in this day and age, a necessity in every kitchen. Publishers, especially in the US, need to get "with it" and evolve with worldwide trends.

So, to get back to the topic heading, measuring flour, the quantity and thus the weight of a cup of flour depends on where the recipe originally comes from.

And just to add a bit of humour, I assisted in a "test kitchen" for a magazine once where I was presented with a recipe for a wonderful chocolate almond tort. I baked the tort and the centre sunk when it cooled. It was pretty bad, but the magazine had their photographer there and when I was going to dump the tort I was told to stand aside and let the presentation team take over. I still remember the photograph of the absolutely wonderfully smooth ganache covered cake appearing in the publication, knowing that the centre contained a wad of crumpled toilet paper to prevent the weight of the ganache covered cardboard disk from sinking. I later found the original recipe for the tort and did the correct conversions to weight and still use it today. It was originally in cups and the young lady who "converted" it used the incorrect cup sizes and thought almond flour weighed the same as cake flour.

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Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

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You forgot a older form of  cup,  which appear in the Nordic country which is about 150 ml.  So yeah, if you greatgrandmother's cake recipe is from Sweden and it says kopp it most likely only 150 ml.


Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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Maybe the difference in the weights in these recipes was due to the source of the recipes - some from the US, Canada, England, France, Australia, etc. and the writer of the recipe did the conversion using the known cup size used in that country and actually tested the recipes.

 

CI and ATK supposedly develop their own recipes.  In an article they wrote it was stated that they settled on a cup of AP flour to weigh five ounces, yet when checking the recipes I got widely different weights for a cup.  Strange!

 

At one time on this forum I was chastised for not using weights, yet many of the same people who were critical of my using measurements posted recipes using cups rather than weight.  I now have started converting my recipes to metric, and always weigh my flour.  I'm even starting to weigh my eggs having discovered that a large egg comes in widely different sizes and weights. Not all recipes need that precision, but some certainly benefit from it, and it makes me feel good being as precise as possible when necessary.  My kitchen scale weighs in grams and ounces, and I've not used ounces almost since the day I started using it.

 


Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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Also, Lisa Shock's comment is spot on:

It really is high time that all publications of recipes publish by weight, and preferably using the metric system. All publications I come across out of the US that are for the professional chef are in metric weight, and have been for as long as I can remember. A kitchen scale is, in this day and age, a necessity in every kitchen. Publishers, especially in the US, need to get "with it" and evolve with worldwide trends.

 

 

 

The question is, HOW do we convince the magazines to do this.  Last time I bought a C I magazine, there was a caveat in the front page about weights and measurements, seems that flour should be weighed (scaled) out, but everyting else is measured out in volume--except chocolate which comes in standard 1 oz sqaures (but only in the US).

 

So the magazines are very well aware of the situation.  Both a nurse and a long distance truck driver use scales in their daily work, and everyone has jumped on a scale in the bathroom at home or at the doctors, and anyone who has traveled by air knows how much their suitcases should weigh, and how much they actually weigh.  It's not a foreign concept. Why then, the absolute refusal to acknowledge that professions the world over have been using scales for centuries, and continue to do so? 

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How much difference does the humidity make when weighing flour, and how should one compensate for it?  Is it just a matter of 'feel' for the dough that one develops with experience?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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How much difference does the humidity make when weighing flour, and how should one compensate for it?  Is it just a matter of 'feel' for the dough that one develops with experience?

When making bread for sure it is gaining a feel for the dough. Most decent recipes will put you within striking distance but that's it. I used to believe that if I weighed carefully everything would just work but it took lots of frustrating failures for me to learn a recipe is a suggestion not a prescription. And this is especially so with bread.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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I have never taken humidity into consideration when making pastry or batter for cakes - I do not make huge batches. However, when making bread dough I go for the correct weights in my formulars and sometimes find the flour does not absorb as much water as on a previous batch. This is when the hands tell the brain that a bit more flour is needed to get the correct "feel", which takes a bit of time and experience. When I first started baking in 1976, my Swiss mentor told me to make my dough "wetter" to get a good rise and crumb - he kept on about hydration percentages, which took me some time to realise what he was on about. His English was not very good. But I did learn with his hands-on approach. I enjoy bread baking but only do pretty basic breads for a couple of restaurants - more dinner rolls than loaves. A couple of years ago I went for some schooling on more artisanal baking and was given a book by Daniel T. DiMuzio as part of my instruction. It really opened my perspective and is a brilliant book for both amateur and professional bakers.


Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

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