In cooking, you can get away with simply “eyeing” the amount of ingredients that you add to the dish that you are preparing. A dash of this, a palmful of that and it comes together nicely. You can adjust the taste to your liking, season as you go, etc.
In baking, measuring ingredients is much more crucial.
#1. Use the correct measuring cups.
Measuring Dry Ingredients:
Dip and Sweep Method:
This is how I usually measure out dry ingredients, like flour, sugar, etc. Dip the measuring cup into the container of package of your ingredient and use something with a straight edge, like a butter knife, to sweep off the extra from the top.
Be careful not too “press” in more ingredients than would naturally settle into the cup.
Spoon and Sweep:
This is a similar method. Use a spoon to place the ingredient inside the measuring cup, spooning enough of the dry ingredient to have a small mound on top. Sweep the excess ingredients from the measuring cup with a straight edge, like a butter knife.
Don’t pack the ingredients in tightly or shake the excess off the top of the measuring cup, etc.
To sift or not to sift?
You’ve probably noticed that many recipes specify to sift flour. Be sure to follow the instructions exactly how it is written in the recipe. Most of the time, it will have a drastic effect in the texture of the finished product. The amount of flour that is sifted first will be much less than flour that has been measured first and then sifted.
1 cup flour, sifted: This means that you measure out 1 cup of flour and then sift it.
1 cup sifted flour: This means that you need to sift the flour first and measure out a cup after it has been sifted.
Measuring liquid ingredients:
Many times, several liquid ingredients need to be measured for the same recipe. You can save time and utensils by measuring them all in one measuring cup, pouring in one ingredients after another. I do this all the time – less dishes to wash! For example, when I’m making my buttermilk pancakes, I pour all the liquid ingredients into one measuring cup, add the egg at the end, whisk it all together and then pour it into the dry ingredients. I do this with many salad dressings too.
This is pretty straight forward. Use actual commercial measuring spoons, not the spoon that you use for soup or to add sugar to your coffee. Just remember to level off the spoon, unless you need a heaping spoonful.
- Don’t measure over the bowl that you are using to combine your ingredients in. If you over pour, your measurement will not be accurate. It’s really hard to tell how much extra baking soda or salt went into the bowl if you’re pouring it in over a bowl of flour. It’s the same with liquid ingredients.
- When measuring sticky ingredients like honey or molasses, spray or grease up the measuring cup with oil. This will help the ingredient some out of the cup much more easily.
- Pack down lightly on the ingredients such as shortening, sour cream, etc. Just as I mentioned about grated cheese, this is to avoid pockets of air in the measuring cup.
- Use a rubber spatula or a spoon to get all of the ingredient out of the measuring cup or tap the cup to get all of the contents out. It destroys/beats the purpose of measuring your ingredients correctly if you’ll leave part of them behind in your measuring utensils.