Baking Basic 101 Series: How to Properly Measure Common Baking Ingredients

In today’s lesson we are going to learn something that is very basic in baking, and that is how to properly measure the ingredients. In baking, measurement should be exact or at least close to being exact. A small amount of extra flour could make a huge difference and we wouldn’t even realize it until we ended up getting a tough dry bread, or an overly sweet cake. I honestly think before when I was starting to get into baking that I know how to measure ingredients. After all, how difficult it is? We use measuring cup and spoons, isn’t it as simple as scooping and dumping the ingredients in a bowl? Well, not really. Let me show you how to properly measure baking ingredients, this simple lesson will make a difference in the success of your bake products. 

Photo Credits: Mauro Lima from Unsplash

While I had been baking for awhile now, Sometimes, I still feel like a beginner. There is always so much to learn to refresh my memory or just to brush up my skills. I’ve decided to share with you my baking learning journey, and I hope this will benefit you as much as it helped me. I had been meaning to create more baking basics series but I had always been side track with recipe and travel post. I’ll be documenting things that I had learned and will share with you my experiences in baking, baking basics is not just my journey, it is our journey to making ourselves a better baker, especially if you cannot afford to go to a culinary school for whatever reason. I started on my own, learned everything on my own by reading and researching, by watching videos and by listening to advice and feedback. I feel it’s time to give back and share what I’ve learned.

Today’s Lesson: Measuring Ingredients the Proper Way

2 Ways to Measure Ingredients in Baking

Depending on where you are, you will probably be using either two of these ways to measure ingredients.

  • By using Measuring Cup/Spoon – This is probably the most common way that most people measure the ingredients in baking, unless you are in European country that mostly measure ingredients by weight. I personally do this almost 95% of the time. Although this is the most common way, this is not the best way when it comes to baking. This way of measuring is not precise, although you could get by with it.
  • Weighing – The best way to measure the ingredients in baking is by using a kitchen weighing scale. This gives a more precise measurement as compared to using cups or spoon. In weighing, 100grams is 100 grams, but 1 cup is not always 1 cup because it depend on how we measure it.

Let us start with the Measuring Cups and Spoon Way – By Volume

How to properly measure baking ingredients varies on what ingredients you are measuring. Let’s start with the dry ingredients. 

Flour: Spoon & Level Method

Leta start with the most basic an common ingredients in baking, flour. You will be using flour 90% of the time unless you are baking a flourless recipe. 

DON’T: The easiest and most common way most beginners measure flour is by simply scooping the flour and dumping it in the bowl. Sometimes we even tap it, thinking that tapping will give more room for more flour, which is correct and which is why you should not do it that way. Tapping will cause the flour to settle in the cup thus making you scoop more flour to fill the cup. So should you do it? 

DO: You’ve probably read a lot of recipe saying “use the spoon & level technique”. What is means is that grab a measuring cup, and use a spoon (it doesn’t matter what size) and scoop the flour into the measuring cup. After you’ve filled Che measuring cup, use any flat surface object (a knife, a stainless spatula or handle of spoon or fork) to level the top of the measuring cup. The leveling will remove excess flour. This method applies for any kind of flour. 

Granulated White Sugar: Scoop & Level Method

Measuring white sugar is fairly straight forward. You can directly scoop it using a measuring cup or spoon, then level the top using a flat surface object. 

Brown Sugar: Scoop & Packed Method

Measuring brown sugar is slightly different from white sugar. Start by scooping the brown sugar then pack it down (press to make it compact). Brown sugar have more moisture and so if you scoop it as is, your measurement could be less than what is required. It not specified “packed” on the recipe, scoop and pack when measuring.

Icing Sugar/Confectioners Sugar: Scoop & Packed Method

Measure icing sugar as you would measure flour, using the spoon level technique. However, pay attention on how the recipe measurement is written for icing sugar. When it

  • 1 cup confectioner sugar (sifted) – this means sift the confectioner sugar AFTER measuring 
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar – means sift the confectioners sugar BEFORE measuring 

It may sound the same, but actually it is not. Normally, confectioners sugar scooped without soft if first measures a lot more then when you scoop a confectioners sugar that has been sifted. Try it. Scoop 1 cup confectioners sugar then sift it and transfer in a bowl. Now, using the already sifted confectioner sugar, measure 1 cup. You will be surprised there will be about 1/4 cup excess. 

Cocoa Powder: Scoop & Level Method

When the recipe did not specify, I normally go for scooping it directly and leveling it, then sifting it afterwards. Make it s habit to sift confectioners sugar before using it as it tends to have lumps, this is more important when making buttercream frosting. 

Baking Soda and Baking Powder: Scoop & Level Method

Measure these leavening agent by scooping and leveling. Although these ingredients is normally use in small amount, measuring leavening agent correctly is very important just like and ingredients. On a side note, make sure to check the expiration date.

Active Dry Yeast or Instant Yeast: Scoop & Level Method

Measure yeast with the scoop and level technique. I usually buy the bottled one so I use a measuring spoon to measure it. If you are buying the one in packets, 1 packet = 2 and 1/4 teaspoons which is 1/4 ounce. Just like baking soda and baking powder, pay attention to the expiry date. To test if the yeast is still active, pour about 1/4 cup warm water ( 100F), add 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 3/4 teaspoon active yeast. Let sit for  5-10 minutes, if it form a foam on the top it’s still active

Sticky Liquid Ingredients

When measuring honey, maple syrup, agave or molasses, spray the measuring spoon or cup with non stick spray. Pour the sweetener into the measuring spoon or cup . This simple step will make your measuring easy breezy. The sweetener will fall easily without sticking to the measuring spoon/cup. 

Liquid Ingredients

Measure liquid ingredients like water, milk, oil using the eye level technique. This means pour the liquid in the cup, the bend down or slightly squat to check if the liquid is level with the mark in the cup 

Other Semi-Liquid Ingredients

Yogurt, Sour Cream, Peanut Butter, Apple Sauce or any fruit Puree should be measured using dry measuring cup and do the spoon and level technique 

Mix-In Ingredients

Ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruits, sprinkles and candies should be measure using a dry measuring cup.

Measuring By Weight – Weighing The Ingredients

Now, let us go to the more precise way of measuring ingredients, by using a weighing scale. Whether you decide to use this way of measuring ingredients or not, buying a kitchen weighing scale is a good investment. There are a lot of inexpensive brand in the market, it doesn’t have to be expensive.

3 Types of Weighing Scale

  • Digital
  • Mechanical
  • Balance

How to Measure Ingredients Using Kitchen Scale

Keep your handy manual in case you need to refer to it as kitchen scale differs depending on the brand. The important thing to note here is to make sure to set the reading to zero before before adding the ingredients. If you place a cup of flour in a weighing scale that has not been set to zero, the reading will include the weight of the cup + weight of the flour. When measuring, you only want to measure the ingredients. Here is an example. The photo in the left shows the weigh of the cup + the flour. The photo on the right shows only the weigh of the flour. In my weighing scale, I have a button the resets the reading to zero taking out the weigh of the measuring tool.

Conversion

Dry Ingredients Equivalent

1 Cup16 Tablespoon
3/4 cup12 Tablespoon
2/3 cup10-2/3 Tablespoons
1/2 Cup8 Tablespoon
1/3 Cup5-1/3 Tablespoons
1/4 Cup4 Tablespoon
1/8 Cup2 Tablespoon
1 Tablespoon3 Teaspoon
Source: Joy of Baking

Wet Ingredients Equivalent

4 Quarts128 ounces1 Gallon
8 Cups 64 ounces4 Pints
4 Cups32 ounces2 Pints
2 Cups16 ounces1 Pint
1 Cup8 ounces1/2 Pint
Souce: Joy of Baking

Common Ingredients Weight Chart

IngredientVolumeOuncesGram
All-Purpose Flour1 Cup4 1/4120
Almond Flour1 Cup3 3/896
Bread Flour1 Cup4 1/4 120
Chickpea Flour1 Cup385
Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour1 Cup5 1/2156
Oat Flour1 Cup3 1/492
Self Rising Flour1 Cup4113
Unbleached Cake Flour1 Cup4 1/4120
Cornmeal (Yellow)1 Cup 5 1/2 156
Quinoa (whole)1 Cup6 1/4177
Panko Bread Crumbs1/4 Cup1 3/450
Bread Crumbs (Dried)1/4 Cup1 28
Bread Crumbs (Fresh)1/4 Cup3/421
Granulated White Sugar1 Cup7198
Packed Brown (Dark or Light)1 Cup7 1/2213
Confectioners`Sugar (Unsifted)2 Cups8227
Baking Powder1 Teaspoon4
Baking Soda1/2 Teaspoon3
Cocoa Powder (Unweetened)1/2 Cup1 1/242
Cornstarch1/4 Cup128
Salt (Table)1 Tablespoon18
Instant Yeast2 1/4 Teaspoon1/47
Butter1/2 Cup, 8 Tablespoon4113
Cream (Heavy, Light, Half & Half)1 Cup8227
Fresh Milk1 Cup8227
Condensed Milk1/4 Cup2 3/478
Evaporated Milk1/2 Cup4113
Buttermilk1 Cup8227
Water1 Cup8227
Coconut Oil1/2 Cup4113
Olive Oil1/4 Cup1 3/450
Vegetable Oil1 Cup7198
Vanilla Extract1 Tablespoon1/214
Honey1 tablespoon3/421
Maple Syrup1/2 Cup5 1/2156
Egg (fresh)1 Large1 3/450
Egg White (fresh)1 Large1 1/435
Egg Yolk (Fresh)1 Large1/214
Apple Sauce1 Cup9255
Mashed Banana1 Cup8227
Yogurt or SourCream1 Cup8227
Peanut Butter1/2 Cup4 3/4135
Chocolate Chips1 Cup6170
Chopped Chocolate1 Cup6170
Cashew (Chopped)1 Cup4113
Walnuts (Chopped)1 Cup4113
Almods (Sliced)1/2 Cup1 1/243
Feta Cheese1/2 Cup257
Cheese (grated cheddar,mozarella)1 Cup4113
Ricotta Cheese1 Cup8227
Parmesan Cheese1/2 Cup1 3/450
Cream Cheese1 Cup8227
Sweetened Shredded Coconut1 Cup385
Unsweetened Shredded Coconut1 Cup4113
Source: KingArthur.com

I only selected the common ingredients I used, but if you visit this Ingredients Weight Chart post, you will find almost everything.

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