How to Measure Ingredients When Baking
You might get away with a dash of this and a handful of that when you cook soups, stir-fries, and roasts but baking success generally relies on a little more accuracy when it comes to measuring your ingredients.
It isn't hard to measure, especially if you use reliable scales, measuring jugs and/or standard measuring cups or spoons. Don't be tempted to just use Grandma's tea cup or a tablespoon from your cutlery drawer! Follow these simple guidelines and you will be well on your way to ensuring great baking results.
Measuring dry and 'soft' ingredients
I love my electronic scales (I know, it's sad really). They are one of the most invaluable tools I have in my kitchen and my advice would be to buy a set before anything else because they will make your baking a breeze. Electronic scales are the most accurate and convenient way to measure dry ingredients, such as flour and sugar, and also what I call 'soft' ingredients, such as sour cream, jam and yoghurt. They also have a number of features that will save you a great deal of time in the kitchen, including the ability to 'zero' the reading (the tare weight) so you can measure a number of ingredients, one after another, into the same bowl – brilliant for one-bowl mixes, not to mention the saving on the washing up!
If you don't have scales on hand, cup measurements can give you equally good results if you follow this simple step sequence every time you measure:
- Use a tablespoon to spoon the ingredients into the cup measure without packing it down but making sure there are no air pockets.
- Use the straight edge of a knife to level the surface in line with the top of the measuring cup.
- Don't tap the cup on the bench or force the ingredients into the cup.
Liquid ingredients are best measured in a clear measuring jug so that the level of the liquid is easy to read against the markings. Sit the jug on a flat surface and check the quantity at eye level. One exception to this is thick liquids such as honey and golden syrup. I like to weigh these because it is more convenient and tends to be more accurate.
Measuring small quantities
For both dry and liquid ingredients, any measurements below ¼ cup are best measured in standard spoon measures. Don't be tempted to use serving tablespoons and teaspoons as they don't hold the same amount and this could affect your baking results.
For dry ingredients, always level with the back of a knife in the same way as you would if measuring in a cup, and bring the spoon to eye level when measuring liquids to make sure it is level.
How much does your tablespoon measure?
Measuring spoons are readily available from supermarkets and kitchenware stores. A word of warning though: in Australia you will find that many kitchen utensils that are imported from overseas don't share our standard units of measure. In Australia, the standard measure for a tablespoon is 4 teaspoon or 20ml. However, in the UK, US and New Zealand, a tablespoon holds 3 teaspoon or 15ml and, more often than not, these are the ones sold in our local stores. This is not a big issue with ingredients such as flour or sugar, but for baking powder or yeast the correct measurement is essential. Take a look at your measuring tablespoon now – does it hold 15ml or 20ml? Be mindful of what size your tablespoon measure is, where the recipe comes from and make any adjustments required. All BakeClub recipes use 20ml (4 teapsoon) measures.
Not all ingredients are equal
And just one final thing to remember when using your scales: generally no two ingredients weigh the same. For example, a cup of flour (150g) doesn't weigh the same as a cup of cocoa powder (105g), nor the same as a cup of caster sugar (220g). So, if a recipe doesn't specify the weight of an ingredient, make sure you don't ever presume its weight by comparing it to another.
Okay, now its time to get into the kitchen and practise your new measuring skills! Try my recipe for these deliciously moreish Melting Moments – your family and friends will love you for them!