The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Measuring flour by weight.

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Doc Opa's picture
Doc Opa

Measuring flour by weight.

I have purchased a scale for measure flour years ago and thought that I would help me be consistant in my baking.  The problem is that not all flours seem to be consistant.  I've gone to web sites and found a chart for converting cups of flours to grams.  Whole wheat, white flour, bread flour but when I do the math and purchase a bag of KA whole wheat, look at the weight and how many cups are in the bag, the weight is different.  Is there a accepted standard of flour weights out there?  WW is so many grams, AP is so many grams or do the flour companies say our cup of flour wieghs x many grams?  I hate measuring flour by the cup and am finder it hard to find a good method of converting cup to grams with all of the inconsistancies.


 


Mark

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

As for what is reported on any given food item's label in the "Nutrition Facts" box, I'm pretty certain they must follow USDA guidelines using it's standard weights. This info can be found at: 


http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/


Many nutrition related sites also have tapped into this data base to present the info in a more consumer friendly manner. I like to use http://www.nutritiondata.com/.


Now as far as presenting recipes, some sites may stick to this info pretty closely, or not. Most recipes at kingarthur.com seem to stick pretty close to the usda standards.

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

the USDA says 1 cup of wheat flour, white (either enriched or unenriched) is 137g or 4.83 oz.


King Arthur, on the other hand, maintains that a cup of bread or AP flour is 4.25 oz (120g), Peter Reinhart says it's 4.5 (127g) Rose Levy Beranbaum says it's 5.5 (157g). Jeffrey Hamelman (who works for KA) says 4.8 (136g) which obviously conflicts with the KA amount.


There is no accepted "standard". The USDA's count is theirs, pro bakers seem to ignore that. And keep in mind pro bakers and bread book authors aren't all American following US measures. A dry US cup ≠ a UK cup ≠ an Australian cup.


(Coincidentally, I posted a blog entry about this very topic a couple of days ago: How big is a cup? prompted by this TFL post asking this same oft repeated question. This isn't the first time someone's questioned this, by a long shot. And I'm not claiming I have 'the' answer, that's just me mulling away on the topic.)


Then there's the different flours to contend with. Expecting whole wheat and rye and AP and bread flours to be the same won't work, they're all different animals. They each need their own base weights. And bread flour from manufacturers X, Y and Z will likely have different densities anyway, as will flour by Company X from their east cost mill vs their west coast mill. Or flour milled in summer vs flour milled in winter. There are, in other words, a lot of variables that can change, even if just a bit, the weight of "a cup" of flour.


Converting old weightless recipes from cup to grams is, at best, just a good guess. Unless you can be sure the author used the same scooping method you do, it's really just a guideline. And you won't even know if their "cup" was the same weight from one recipe to the other. Dipping a cup, spooning a cup, sifting a cup all produce different amounts.


Scoop and scrape five cups of flour on five sheets of paper then weigh them and I'll bet you get five different weights. If the old recipe authors never weighed their cups of flour – and in the not too olden days, people simply didn't – they wouldn't have known how much off they were anyway.


And the bottom line is always "Adjust as necessary" to get the texture you're aiming for. 

Doc Opa's picture
Doc Opa

Thanks rainbowz,


 


I try to adjust as necessary but what if your just a frustrated average baker (I'm an excellent cook) who's not always sure what the texture you're aiming for is?  I'm just going to have to only use wieght only recipes for breads until I get good at it.  The reason I am so interested in bread baking and joined this site is I'm near finishing an outdoor brick oven at my home and wish to bake some whole grain artisan breads.


 


Thanks


 


Mark


 


 

blaisepascal's picture
blaisepascal

The problem is that flour volume isn't consistent.  Two different cups of the same flour, out of the same bag, can weigh vastly different depending on variations in how much it was sifted, what method was used to measure it, etc, and so forth.  There is no standard, can't really be a standard, that says that 1 cup weighs this much, except in extreme approximation.


That's why weighing is recommended, because 500g of flour is 500g of flour is 500g of flour, regardless of how it's handled.


If you want to convert a recipe that uses volume measurements to weight measurements, I would suggest measuring it both ways as you make it.  E.g., if the recipe calls for 6cups whole wheat flour, measure as best you can 6 cups WW flour onto a scale, and write down how much it weighs.  Then, after you know how much it weighed that time, you can use the outcome to judge if it was too wet or dry, and adjust the weights accordingly next time.


 

Ford's picture
Ford

I believe the standard method of measuring flour is to sift it into the measuring cup (8 fluid ounce size) and then level it with a straight edge.  Do NOT shake or tamp it.  Using this method the cup of white flour, bread, or Ap will weigh close to 4 1/4 ounces or 120 grams.  If you scoup the flour out of the bag with the cup the weight will be considerably greater.  The finess of the grind, and amount of moisture and the shape of the particles will all affect the weight of a cup of flour.


Here are some conversions that I have found convenient.


                                                          vol.      oz.     g


Flour, All-purpose, Unbleached                   1 cup    4.3    120
Flour, buckwheat                                    1 cup    4.3    120
Flour, Bread, Unbleached                          1 cup    4.3    120
Flour, Cake                                           1 cup    3.8    106
Flour, Pastry                                          1 cup    4    113
Flour, Potato                                       1/4 cup    1.5    43
Flour, Rye (pumpernickel, Arrowhead Mill)    1 cup    4    113


Flour, Rye (pumpernickel, Hodgson Mill,stone ground, coarser than Arrowhead)                                              1 cup    4.8    135
Flour, Semolina                                        1 cup    5.8    163
Flour, Whole Wheat finely milled (King Arthur)    1 cup    4.3    120
Flour, Whole Wheat (red), Graham flour, Arrowhead Mills    1 cup    4.7    132
Flour, Whole Wheat (white)                        1 cup    4.5    127


 


Ford

deblacksmith's picture
deblacksmith

What I have found works for me is to use weight -- and also keep notes on each type of bread you make.  I happen to do that on the computer and it seems to help.  But you may still have to adjust.  The same flour is different summer to winter as it will hold different levels of water.


I guess that is where the art comes in.


Dave

gardenchef's picture
gardenchef

I'd like to purchase a great scale (with bowl preferably unless other kinds are better). I don't want to spend more than say $75, rather much less. This would be to measure (weigh) flours as I now see my liquid measuring cups are not appropriate for many bread recipes.


Thanks in advvance for your prompt response, I"m shopping online now.


Cathy

proth5's picture
proth5

I have a small Escali scale that I believe I bought from the King Arthur catalog.  It cost less than $75 and has  done yeoman's work since the day I bought it.  I have no complaints.


(Added by edit: I jut reread what you are looking for and I think that a general purpose scale is more versatile.  I have plenty of bowls and I can easily put one on my scale.  I use my scale for so many things that I, personally, would find having an attached bowl quite inconvenient.  Just make sure the scale has a "tare" function.)


What I like about my particular model is that it shows decimal ounces rather than fractional ounces.  Because I stubbornly cling to ounces and pounds, it makes formula calculation easier. 


Hope this helps.

gardenchef's picture
gardenchef

just found the ESCALI on KAF.com and it's exactly what I wanted..just wanted someone to recommend it. I'm an aounce and poind person too, intimidted by volume and metrics. LOL  Probably a novice question: but what is the TARE for...deducting the weight of your bowl? Just guessing.


Thanks MERRY CHRISTAS and happy baking, ~ Cathy


 

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

The tare function simply resets the weight back to zero. I have no ideal why a "reset to zero" function is called tare.


Yes, you should use tare to subtract the weight of your bowl.


You can use tare to reset the weight to zero at any point. As a simple example, let's assume you're weighing flour and your recipe calls for different kinds of flour (as an example, let's assume X amount of commerical bread flour and Y amount of whole grain flour). You'd put the bowl on the scale and tare to ignore the weight of the bowl. Then you'd put bread flour into the bowl until you reached the desired X amount. Then you'd use the tare function again to reset to zero and add the whole grain flour until you reached the desired Y amount.


 

ryeaskrye's picture
ryeaskrye

Old Will Knott (http://www.oldwillknottscales.com/) usually has a sale going on and they have a large variety of scales available.


Right now, their 24-hour sale has the scale I bought for $36. It is a JScale CJ4000 (http://www.oldwillknottscales.com/jennings-jscale-cj4000.aspx)


It has a limitation of 4000g (or 8.8lbs) but I have yet to weigh out more than that. The main reason I chose this scale is that its resolution is .5g or .02oz as I like to be overly exact in measuring and the accuracy appealed to me. 


It comes with a power adapter and a cover that doubles as a container, is light, small and works in grams, ounces or pieces.


It has been a great scale for 3 years of constant use.

gardenchef's picture
gardenchef

thanks so much I checked out the site of scales and LOVED IT! Seems family owned, reminded my of Pleasant Hill Grain (great site and service) I ordered a Salter (and I believe I may be receiving an ESCALA for Chrismtas...I'll try both and let you know .


Happy weekend ~cathy

Doc Opa's picture
Doc Opa

I don't think they make this model any more but I like my My Scale KD-600.  1 gram increments and up to 12 kg.  Imperial and metric.  Reasonably priced as well. 


 


Mark