We think getting your measurements right is the key to success in baking. Most recipes for a single cake or batch of cookies are fairly forgiving if the recipe contains an extra quarter ounce of flour. The three most common methods: sifting into a cup, spooning flour into a cup and dip and sweep, all yield different amounts of flour, and even if you used the same method every time, the yield can be different. For home baking, consistency in whatever method used is probably the key.
These instructions for how to measure flour are for the “dip and sweep” method. Over our many years of baking, it has probably been the most consistently successful. First, use a whisk to incorporate air – fluff it.
Using the flat side of a spatula or knife, level the flour. We tested Dip and Sweep many times for this post and found the weights varied from 4 1/4 to 4 5/8 ounces. With most coming in at 4 1/4 and 4 1/2. In the old days, many cakes and cookies were baked before we learned that we were supposed to be weighing our ingredients. Well, they all turned out just fine because we were baking single cakes, not the 20 layers or 150 cupcake batches like we do/did in the bakery. We would be in cake batter hell if we had to measure that much flour out a cup at a time, several times a day and a large recipe would not be as tolerant of fluctuating amounts – and that’s a topic for another day when we’ll talk about scales and weighing vs. measuring.