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How do I measure ingredients for baking?


How do I measure ingredients for baking?
Lisa Romerein/Photodisc/Getty Images

Question: How do I measure ingredients for baking?


It’s important to properly measure ingredients – doing it the wrong way could result in the wrong volume and could affect the flavor or outcome of your recipe. Read on to learn how to use your measuring cups or measuring spoons to measure certain baking ingredients.



Dry Ingredients

Flours and powdered sugar: Do not use your measuring spoons or cups to scoop flour out of its container which can result in packing the ingredients and will throw off your measurement. Instead, use a scoop or spoon to spoon flour into the measuring cup. Spoon flour into the cup until it is heaping. Then use a flat edge, such as the back of a butter knife or a metal spatula, to tap across the top of the measuring cup to break up any lumps and tap out air pockets. Then, holding the measuring cup over the flour canister to catch excess, sweep the edge of the blade across the top of the cup to level it.

Baking soda or baking powder: : Either use the appropriate-sized measuring spoon to scoop up a heaping spoonful of the ingredient, or use a spoon to fill the bowl of the spoon. Then use a flat blade to sweep along the top edge of the spoon, removing the excess.

Granulated sugar, salt, dry yeast: You can use your measuring cup or spoon to scoop up the amount you need, then use a flat blade to sweep off the excess.

Brown sugar: Use a scoop or a spoon to fill the measuring cup or spoon, using the back of the spoon to pack or press the sugar into the measuring cup. Continue filling and packing until it’s completely filled. If necessary, use a flat blade to sweep off the excess. The brown sugar should be well-packed enough so that when you dump it into the mixing bowl, it holds its shape.

Other Ingredients

Butter: You can use the measurement markers on the side of a stick of butter to determine the quantity, then use a sharp knife to cut off the amount you need, directly through the paper. Be sure that the markings on the paper wrapper are correctly lined up with the stick of butter. Or, use the shortening method (below) for softened butter. If the recipe calls for melted butter, melt about 1 tablespoon more of the butter than what you need (learn how to properly melt butter in the microwave), then pour the melted butter into a liquid measuring cup. Melted butter has less volume than solid butter, so it’s important that if a recipe calls for “1/2 cup melted butter” you melt the butter, and then measure out 1/2 cup, rather than measuring 1/2 cup of solid butter, then melting it. (If a recipe calls for “1/2 cup butter, melted,” it means to measure the butter when solid, then melt it.

Solid Vegetable Shortening or Softened Butter: If your recipe calls for eggs, first break an egg into the appropriately sized measuring cup, and tip the cup so that the egg white coats the sides of the measuring cup, then transfer the egg to the mixing bowl or a custard cup until needed. The yolk coats the interior of the measuring cup and the shortening will come out without sticking. Use a metal spatula or a butter knife to scoop shortening from the container and pack it into the measuring cup, making sure to press it firmly into the cup so that air bubbles are removed. Run the spatula or the blade around the edge of the measuring cup, and invert it over the mixing bowl. It should fall out cleanly, or you can use the spatula to help scrape it out from the cup.

Liquid ingredients:Pour the liquid ingredients into the liquid measuring cup, bending down so that you can see at eye level when the measuring cup is filled to the appropriate measurement. The surface of the liquid will be very slightly concave, so it’s important to measure the center of the surface of the liquid, rather than the edge, which will be slightly higher.


Measuring by Weight

If you have a recipe in which the ingredients are given in weight (i.e. grams or ounces), using a kitchen scale is the most accurate way to go. Put a bowl on the scale and then zero it out (called tare) so that the weight of the bowl is not incorporated into your measurement. Spoon your ingredients into the bowl until you've reached the desired measurement. Many scales also will measure liquids.

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