The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I'm a little confused about flour measuring in ounces

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clazar123's picture
clazar123

I'm a little confused about flour measuring in ounces

I have seen several recipes in the forum where liquids and solids are both measured in ounces.Is the flour in weight by ounce or volume by ounce in these recipes?Or does it vary? It would be helpful if people would make that distinction when a recipe is provided-"All solids measured by weight" or use grams instead of ounces.


 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Whenever you read a formula for bread making that specifies grams/ounces, whether for liquids or solids, you can be assured it's weight, not volume.


Some people aren't comfortable with the metric system to they'll specify ounces.  I don't personally like using ounces as a measurement because grams are far more accurate (there's a whole 7+ grams in a quarter ounce) and my OCD personality doesn't allow me to accept "close enough".  That said, if you're relying on ounces and can get your scale accuracy within a quarter ounce you're close enough.  Bread making isn't rocket science and, in the final analysis, it's more about reading the dough than weighing to the nth degree.


 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

It is so confusing.I'm not worried about accuracy as much as I don't know how to follow the recipe. Big difference in 12 oz of flour by weight and 12 ounces by volume.At least, I think there is-maybe I should try see how much 12 fl oz of flour weighs. :)


 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Perhaps my words were confusing.


What I meant to say was:


Whether the bread formula you're reading is in ounces, grams, pounds, etc., the reference is to weight, not volume.

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

I have to admit I'm not very sure whether liquid given in ounces means fluid ounces or by volume. Is there a rule I may have forgotten?A.



fatdog's picture
fatdog

If you are talking about water, volume and weight should be the same.  Remember the saying, "a pint's a pound the world around."  Since a pint of water is 16 ounces (liquid) and it weighs 16 ounces, the correlation is 1:1.  Of course, with other liquids of different densities, that will not be the same.

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

Typical narrow-minded US parochialism. :)


In the UK (and elsewhere) a pint is 20 fluid ounces.


Jeremy

fatdog's picture
fatdog

Jeremy,


Quite right you are and I stand corrected.  I will stick with my original intent that an ounce is an ounce (when talking about water and other liquids with the same density).  On a more important note, you may rest assured that when I go to my local watering hole (translate that to pub) I want my pints to be measured in imperial units!


Alan

clazar123's picture
clazar123

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/wholewheathoneybread


This is a good example of mixed use of weight and volume.Notice the 1 lb flour,12 oz(fluid? or weight?)hot water, 8 oz flour(??),5 oz evap milk(it must be fluid oz because that is how cans are usually measured). It is maddening. If it is liquid measure, it should indicate "fluid oz" as the unit.


Honey Whole Wheat Bread
makes two loaves
1 lb whole wheat flour
12 oz hot water
8 ounces bread or all-purpose flour
1 5 oz can evaporated milk (or milk, or more water or soy if you are vegan)
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons instant yeast
an additional 1/2-1 cup flour, as necessary, to achieve the desired consistency

Floydm's picture
Floydm

The difference between a fluid ounce of water or milk and weighed ounce of water or milk is neglible.  And, yes, this recipe says "1 5 oz can", not "5 ounces".


When people post a recipe they should communicate as simply and clearly as they can using whatever method and units they find most natural to work with.  No, that means you won't always get metric and imperial or baker's percentages or weights and volumetric units, nor will you always get high altitude adjustments (which it has also been asserted people "should" always include).  Disclaimers on how to interpret the units are not necessary.  If you find it that maddening that people think and post and share their experiences using different units then you're in the wrong place, my friend.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

We have to keep in mind that liquids are measured by fluid ounce, thus 16 fluid ounces will not weigh the same as 16 avoirdupois ounces.  

Technically, a pint of water weighs 1.04375 pounds, or 16.7 ounces.   The Brit Imperial pint weighs even more (so much for the "world around" ditty).

With regard to recipes, if (i.e.) 22 ounces (or grams) of any liquid ingredient is listed, you want your scale display to read "22."   We have to presume that if the author wanted precise fluid ounce measurements, he/she would say so.

If cups are listed for liquid, just be sure to use liquid measuring cup, not the standard swoop and scoop cup.  There is a difference.

rick.c's picture
rick.c

OK, I like the notion of bakers percentages for measuring ingredients in order to scale recipes.  I also tend to use weights to measure.  I also assume ounces to be in weight, not volume.


But, really, can a recipe be listed in grams?  I know people do it on this site all the time.  But, most books will list a range, especially for flour, or water, which is understandable.  If my kitchen is at 70% humidity and your kitchen is at 35% humidity, our flours are going to weigh different amounts (probably more than 7 grams, or 1/4 oz).  There isn't a way to quantify this difference, despite the differences in measuring volume by scoop, or sift, or...  Well, there is, but who wants to do all the math just to make bread.


Sorry, but, I think the point is to learn what the dough should feel like in order to measure.  If you want something that you can only stretch and fold in a bowl with wet hands, know what that should feel like.  Conversely, if you want a hard kneaded loaf worked on a counter, you should know the difference.


 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

The recipes are meant as sketches, loose guidelines to get people thinking and pointed in the right direction.  They don't aim to nail down every last detail in order to to remove all unpredictability from baking.  They shouldn't try to because they can't, not unless we are all going to work with the same exact same ingredients and gear in climate controlled laboratories. 



Now *that* looks like fun.

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

... but are they making bread?


Jeremy

Floydm's picture
Floydm

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

Too much fun. Thanks Floyd.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Floym,


My frustration is when I can't figure out which system the recipe is displaying. My example shows how a recipe can have both ounces indicating weight for some ingredients and volume for others. I am ok if they use both systems in a recipe but I'd like to know which is which,when I'm trying to follow a recipe. I am in the USA and,while familiar with the metric system, grew up using the avoirdupoois system, so that is what I am most comfortable with -but I know how to use both systems. I just need to know what unit is being used.


I also understand that recipes are not formulas-they are not exact and I don't expect them to be. But I do expect they will get me reasonably close to what the recipe is supposed to turn out like and in order to be able to do that-I need to understand what the measurements of the ingredients are.


I simply request-if recipes are posted, please make sure the measurement system for the ingredients list is clear-even if they are a mixed bag.So-list "fl.oz" for volume and "oz" or "oz by wt" for ingredients that are by weight. It is not always intuitive as to which unit is being used.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I'm looking at a half dozen baking books and a bunch of recipes here and I don't see one that specifies "fl. oz." or "oz by wt" in every recipe.  I think the expectation in all of them is that if you are measuring a fluid you are using fluid ounces or that the difference in between the weight and the measure of an ounces of the fluid is insignificant.  That should hold true as long as you are baking on Earth between sea level and 20,000 feet.


If you aren't measuring a fluid, you aren't really going to be measuring in fluid ounces, eh?  I don't see any exception to this rule of thumb anywhere on the site or in any books at hand.  It isn't any more necessary to call it out every time than it is to include " on Earth" after each ingredient.

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

... is the one that really gets me. What am I supposed to do? Cram the butter into a tablespoon and then try to get all of it out and into the recipe?


I know I read an entertaining essay on why US recipes are so keen on volume measures  by Ray Sokolov some time ago, and Googling suggests it was in his How to Cook, but I don't own the book and cannot turn up anything else on the internet.


Jeremy

Royall Clark's picture
Royall Clark

I'm a long ways away from being an experienced cook or baker for that matter. But when I measure butter I use the handy lines that are marked on the butter wrapper. I'm assuming your using cubed butter. If I measure margarine out of the tube I use a spatula to fill the spoon and strike it off and use my finger to wipe it out of the spoon. I don't think any small air pockets left behind are going to make a big hill of beans. This is just my take on it. YMMV!!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Yeah, the wrapper that sticks of butter come in (at least in the States) have tablespoons clearly marked on them.  All you have to do is slice off the appropriate amount.

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

At least in the States, because tablespoons is such a silly measure for butter. I think that 1 tablespoon is half an ounce (weight) but usually I have to look it up.


Anyway, I've had my fun and will now stop.


Jeremy

clazar123's picture
clazar123

A lab experiment:


I just measured this out using my containers,flour and scale:


8 oz (by fluid measure)of bread flour = 1 cup (volume) flour= 148 g


8 oz(by weight) of bread flour = 1.45 cup flour = 228 g


 


So if the above recipe calls for "8 oz bread flour" do I add:


                                  148 g flour or 228 g flour?


It could make a significant difference in the outcome-esp if there are more ingredients that are ambiguous like this. Imagine adding 50% more (or perhaps less) salt,sugar.leavener,flavoring than the recipe called for? Big taste/texture difference.


So a simple request:


If you write a recipe, please make sure that readers will understand how your ingredients were measured so they can duplicate and enjoy the recipe you are generously sharing.


Thank you

Floydm's picture
Floydm

This is getting silly and I don't mean to sound condescending... but do you know what a fluid is?  It is a "liquid, watery substance, or solution."  So... is flour a fluid?  No.  Then why would you measure it as if it were?  I'll admit, I assume that the reader knows the difference between a fluid and a solid.  Most other cookbooks and websites also seem to take that for granted.

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

Personally, I think your weight of 148 grams for 8 fluid ounces of flour is too heavy, but maybe that's just me.


As a rule, I would guess that nobody would say 8 oz flour when what they really mean is 1 cup flour, but maybe that's just me too.


Jeremy

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Happy to provide any additional info you may need.


Liquid-one of the 3 states of matter (solid,liquid,gas)which has a fixed volume,assumes the shape of its container and has a free surface in gravity.


Here is the link:


http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/state.html


A fluid is any substance that assumes the shape of its container-whether it is liquid or gas.Groups of particles-(such as flour or sugar) can have characteristics similar to a liquid or gas and are able to flow, thereby acting as a fluid.


Flour is actually a solid-or more accurately a group of solids which has flow characteristics like a liquid.So flour acts like a fluid but is not a liquid.


Flour is often measured using "cups", which is a volumetric (or liquid) measurement.Most cookbooks in the USA use volumetric measurements for flour.Volumetric measurements (cups) are even used in the Handbook,as well as weight and formula measurments so everyone understands the recipes.Very nice project! I just discovered it today!


Anything else you need?

Floydm's picture
Floydm

 This has gotten beyond silly.  


Yes, flour is often measured in cups, because most people don't have a scale in their kitchens. Professional bakers prefer to use weights because it offers more precision and is easier to scale.  Pros measure in pounds or kilograms, but amateurs scale down to ounces or grams.   It isn't a debate as to whether flour more closely resembles a solid or a fluid.  When bakers are measuring flour they are treating it as a solid, not a fluid, and measuring as such.


In the five years that this site has existed no one has ever had a difficult time with this. Apply less science and more common sense, please. 

SmokinLee's picture
SmokinLee

I frequent a smoked meat forum and we get into debates like this all the time. Myself,have always just used cups for measuring. BUT I recently aquired a triple beam scale that I am really looking forward to measuring my flour to hopefully achieve a more consistant loaf. My liquid cups are inconsistant, I could pour one cup water in one and pour it into the other and it is at about 1.125 cups.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

clazar123, I wonder if you are aware that there are dry measuring cups and wet measuring cups, both being volume.  


Cups 101:


If you see 2 cups flour, use a dry measuring cup, it looks different from a liquid cup in that it rarely comes in glass and looks more like a scoop.  Unlike a liquid measuring cup with a spout, dry measuring cups are designed for dry pouring meaning no spouts and have level tops so a flat edge can be dragged across to level the ingredients.  They often come in sets having 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3cup and 1/4 cup in various sizes. 


My theory about why cups still exist in the USA?  Most kitchens have more than one set, many 3 or 4 sets but they are scattered all over the kitchen.  One nice looking set stays together, the stainless steel set and not the bent up aluminum set with a past.  The rest?  They are inside all kinds of containers being used for scoops in boxes, canisters, flour bins, and where ever they are often used to scoop stuff.  The ones with long handles are favorites, also metal and plastic last longer but the cheap plastic ones end up in trift stores.  Their life ends after pet food.  ...Now where would we be without all our favorite scoops?


Found you a wet and dry volume converter.  HERE_


Don't forget to have fun, 


Mini w/toungue firmly in cheek

SmokinLee's picture
SmokinLee

Yes The liquid cups are just two differrent brands. One is a pyrex and the other a Anchor Hocking. I can see I really need to proof read my posts here, hehehe. Thanks for the converter. Things like that come in handy for alot of things.