The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

So what's the deal Meausring flour by weight? Grams are in mass!??! %#^@$&

  • Pin It
Biffbread's picture

So what's the deal Meausring flour by weight? Grams are in mass!??! %#^@$&

My wife bought me a Dutch over to further my bread baking hobby so I decided to get more precise with my bread so I've decided to try baking by weight.

Ive been trying out the Tartine bread recipie and it use grams to measure the ingredient.....

I don't get that because grams is just mass correct? I tried to weigh it out on my kitchen scale but it looks really off. Am I missing somthing here?

JeremyCherfas's picture

Not sure why you think grams are volumes, but they definiltely are not. I millilitre of water weighs one gram (at 4C, IIRC) but other than that possible source of confusion, no grams are weights. 

Biffbread's picture

Sorry ya I meant mass; So it can be mass or weight? 

gmabaking's picture

-measuring by weight was a big step for me. Luckily my math skills are somewhat less than stellar and converting recipes from volume was way too much work, so I bought a scale. For some reason, gram measurement was confusing. I would look at a recipe and ask myself if they mean liquid grams (!) or if they mean grams by weight? I think I actually looked on the measuring cup to see if there were grams marked. Okay, stop laughing you guys out there, until a very few years ago, I had spent a lifetime only measuring by volume. When I first started trying to bake from a TFL formula, I would avoid any except those where volume was listed. Think of how many great things I missed, good thing search history is so efficient. Ah now, if it was only my horizon that expanded with those projects.....

No doubt you will soon find yourself using weight much more than volume, it is so much more accurate, and yes, easier once you get used to it. Most important is that you enjoy the process of turning all those individual ingredients, liquid or solids, into a wonderful loaf of bread. 

Happy Baking,


SteveB's picture

Since the pull of gravity is constant at the Earth's surface, units of mass (grams) are used as a serviceable alternative to the more unwieldy units of weight (kilogram-meter/sec²).


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

pressing down on your loaves.  They can be worse than elves!  

Ok, sorry.  I suppose we don't have to worry about dark matter until we travel interstellar, setting a oven timer during warp speed or something like that.  I reserve my comment for the 50yr TFL celebration, Mars edition.  :)

isand66's picture

Live long and prosper...Mini Oven! 

jamesberry's picture

Its good to see comedy is alive and kicking at Stevie b,s

JeremyCherfas's picture

As we're not likely to be baking on other planets any time soon, most people casually interchange mass (a quality of the thing itself) with weight (a force acting on the mass as a result of gravity). So yes, things have a mass measured in grams, and a weight measured in newtons.

old man's picture
old man

when you figure hydration levels are all liquods involved [oil honey egg milk ] or just water

MangoChutney's picture

All things, but not all things are 100% liquid.  Milk is counted as 100% liquid.  According to the notes I have taken from various sources, eggs, oil, and honey are considered 3/4 liquid.  Added fats make the dough handle as if it were wetter even though they contain little or no water.  Added sugar makes it handle as if it were less wet even though it is not flour, because sugar absorbs some water.  And, although that is not in my notes, water roux makes a much wetter dough that handles as if it were not that wet.  This last is very handy, but probably beyond what you need to know at the moment.


mwilson's picture

I have a habit of doing this; jumping on things people say. It's only that I feel compelled to correct, incorrect statements...

Sugar - While sugar absorbs water as you say it's effect on the dough itself is incorrect. Sugar makes the dough sticky. But more importantly it acts like water, in that it contributes 'flow' to the rheological properties of dough. 


MangoChutney's picture

Here is the link to the place from which I took my hydration notes (which does not include my personal water roux experience).  Perhaps you should go and correct them.  *wink*


mwilson's picture

Perhaps I should!

Lol. It's not 'them' at all! The info on there is written by one guy. Hardly a trusted resource of information!

Another easy spot mistake on that page! Not to mention the dictatorship over what percent hydration different breads are. Amateur!


dabrownman's picture

oil has any water in it.  If it did,  the water would separate out and have the oil floating on top of it.  Oil is counted as zero for hydration for bread baking purposes as a result.   Oil will make the crumb more tender and possibly the dough feel wetter or smoother if large amounts are used.  Butter in the USA has about 20% water for the cheap stuff and about 18% for the good.

mwilson's picture

you got it!

well done dabrownman. That's the other easy spot mistake I was referring to.

GAPOMA's picture

Although ingredient weights vary a bit from kitchen to kitchen, here are my general volume-to-weight conversions.

1 cup flour = 140 grams
1 cup sugar = 200 grams
1 cup water = 243 grams

These work great for me for bread and most other baking.  Others on TFL might use slightly differnt values.  Milk is about the same weight as water (depending a bit on the kind of milk you use), and oil is only slightly less heavy than water.

FWIW, I'll include the following as well.

1 teaspoon of anything = 5 grams (approximate)
1 Tablespoon of anything = 15 grams (approximate)

These last two are rough estimates.  They work pretty well for things like salt and yeast, but not so good for others (like cream of tartar).  But at least they get you in the ballpark. 

- Greg

Janetcook's picture

I was a 'volume' baker too until I discovered TFL.  I never really knew what I was doing but once I learned baker's math almost all of the mysteries I was mystified by fell away.  I LOVE BAKER'S MATH  :-)  

What I love equally is my Kitchen Calculator (HERE) because it lets me convert any recipe I want into a formula.  It deals with volume, grams or ounces and has capabilities I can't figure out yet but haven't needed to use.  

Not sure this even addressed the OP question but it seemed like an appropriate 'plug' for a handy kitchen gadget :-)

Have Fun,


hanseata's picture

Janet, even though I can use the Rule of Three, this calculator would come often handy. I'll then invest in a digital spoon for weighing very small amounts, too.

Otherwise, I can only recommend to get a scale that can switch between ounces and grams, and can be put back to zero whenever adding a new ingredient. I compared several volume/weight conversion tables in different cookbooks (from Cook's Illustrated, Berenbaum, ITJB, Peter Reinhart) and what a cup of my own flours weigh - the difference is remarkable. Especially for larger amounts this can affect the result quite a bit. This is the scale I use for years.

Sometimes I feel a little bit of schadenfreude that you Americans with your prehistoric measurements have to learn how to deal with metric measurements....:)


MangoChutney's picture

We aren't all alike over here.  ;)  But really, I am surprised that someone with enough scientific knowledge to distinguish between weight and mass has never encountered grams used as weight since metric units are used in science.  Grams are on most of our products as an alternative unit of weight, right after lbs-and-or-ounces.

Janetcook's picture

Karin  My second favorite scale (I have the same one you linked to and it is my 'favorite') is this one by DigiWeigh that cost less than $15.00.  Does the small stuff which I really don't have to use much but it is a fun little gadget to have around.  Helped my son out today for one of his chemistry assignments :-)  

Never heard of a digital spoon.... or the Rule of Three????


wildman's picture


The United States is a metric country and has been one since 1875. But for many reasons the metric system is not used here for daily life even though for many people who work in labs and manufacturing the standards used are all metric based.