The Fresh Loaf

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Confusion between measurements of Flour.(volume/weight)

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taurus430's picture
taurus430

Confusion between measurements of Flour.(volume/weight)

I've been baking breads and rolls for quite a while. My problem is most recipes are by volume, some by weight. Now when I go to convert, I get different measurements depending where I look or by what recipe. I started with 3 cups of flour and that could be anywhere from 13 oz flour from KAF to 15 oz of flour or more on other recipes. Jim Lehey uses 3 cups of flour for the no knead and gives no ozs but gives 400gr as 3 cups of flour. 400gr does not equal 15 ozs which should be about 3 cups. I do know volume can vary so would like to use weight but I do get inconsistencies as to how many ozs/grs 3 cups of flour should be about. If a recipe calls by volume, 3 c of flour, how many ozs should I use and why does this conversion vary from various sources? To me, baking is a science, therefore should be exact when converting. What is your opinion? Do you find conversions to be inconsistent?

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

Happy New Year,  VA friend.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

They are inconsistent.

The problem is that, unless the author specifies the weight of what they mean by 1 cup, it's anyone's guess; and, even if they do, it's no guarantee, as different bread flours have different weights: 1 cup (12o g) of King Arthur Bread Flour could equal 1 cup (140 g) of Central Milling Bread Flour.

I use 125 g per cup as "my standard" and adjust as necessary.

If I'm really having a problem with a volumetric recipe, I look for the author's measuring method. For example, if they say "dip and sweep", I'll dip and sweep three times, weigh each result, then take the average (i.e. Three dip-and-sweeps result in 150 g, 142 g, 156 g, I take the average weight (149 g) for that method and go with it.

imaloafer's picture
imaloafer

You should never be using a measuring cup in baking to begin with. In professional shops, everything is scaled by weight, and metric is used for it's accuracy. Get a digital scale for home use and get in the practice of using weight for ALL ingredients. Metric may seem odd at first but once you get the hang of it, it is far more simple and more accurate to use than Imperial measure (the reason why most of the world uses Metric). I would suggest steering clear of any books that do not have weight as the measure. Most books now will have volume, Imperial weight and Metric weight. The beauty of metrics is the even numbers. A formula that was truly Metric will not have odd little numbers. It will be 1000 g flour, 700 g water, 200 g leaven, 20 g salt, etc.. Formulas that have been converted from Imperial to Metric or vice versa, often end up with odd numbers thus above would be 35.27 ounces of flour or converting from 35 ounces to grams 992.23 g. This defeats the ease of metrics. If using formulas that have only volume measure, which I'm sure we all have some good ones, I will simply take the time to weigh each ingredient in grams, after using original measure. I adjust to an even number of grams and then may have to make adjustments to tweek the final product and formula to where I want it to be. As others stated, the way the dough looks, feels, etc are the final guide to adjusting. If you understand Baker's percentages, you can adjust all your other ingredients based on ratios, once you have the weight of flour you desire.

smeredith's picture
smeredith

I think that is good advice. If you have some old recipes that use volume instead of weight, pick some standard weight for a cup of flour and start with that, then make the recipe and make adjustments. Record your final weights on the recipe.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

You have to have a place to start and make adjustments as needed but, I use 135g per Cup for AP and Bread Flour. I suggest you pick an author you like and stick to his measurements. Bread by Hamelman is good for this and also has the Desired Dough Temperature for every phase of every bread. This is most helpful. I use his Home scaled amounts then convert them to grams.

Eric

Elagins's picture
Elagins

that's why most serious bakers (both pros and hobbyists) measure by weight, not volume.

Stan Ginsberg
www.nybakers.com

taurus430's picture
taurus430

A comment from others would be to feel the dough, this is true if you're familiar with one recipe/formula, but I jump around with recipes therefore I am not familiar by feel.

BTW, I just received your  book "Inside the Jewish Bakery". Very interesting.  I want to make your poppy horn rolls from your book as growing up in Newark, NJ, the good bakeries are all gone. I know what "hard rolls" should be like.

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

I still think you have to go by the feel and appearance of the dough even if you do weigh. The humidity and how dry the flour can be that day may be a factor in how much you add the liquid. Always add the liquid in gradually, rather than dumping it all in at one time.

Crider's picture
Crider

High-protein bread flour weighs more per cup than does AP flour, which in turn weighs more per cup than cake flour.

taurus430's picture
taurus430

and thanks for your help! I do find that measurements to recipes are in fact, all over the place. One recipe should not say 3 cups of flour, than give the weight as 15 ozs, than another recipe reads 3 cups as something else. Than I go to a conversion chart and it's neither one.......LOL. To me a standard should be in place to give by weight, that as an alternate, by approximate volume since the weight is more true, depending on type of flour. Agree?

I weighed 3 cups of flour before, twice. Once by dip and sweep, once by filling the 1 cup 3X and sweeping. It seems 1 cup flour should be 5 oz, hence 3 c should be 15oz. Both methods after weighing each were under 15 ozs.

So when a recipe reads 3 cups of flour and no weight, which weight do I use if I want to weigh it out?????  LOL

jcking's picture
jcking

If one looks at formula that give both weights and measure they don't always agree. Cups are rounded up or down when they may be .93 cups or 1.1 cups. I defer to bakers math as each type of bread usually has a hydration ratio. I imagine the measured recipes are based on a package of dry yeast and other ingredients are rounded.

Jim

taurus430's picture
taurus430

I just took 3 cups of flour (scoop & sweep) and weighed it by grams. It weighed a little over 400 g. Now i went the other way, took enough flour out to weigh at 375g (per thomaschacon 125g=1 cup, 3 c =375g). Then I filled the 1 c measuring cup and it was pretty much on the money. So if 3 c is 375 g, Jim Lehey in his bread book has 3 cups as 400 grams.This is the point I'm trying to make.

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

Maybe use the smaller weight first, 375 grams. You still have to mix the flour with the wet ingredients and see how that goes. See if you need any of the remaining 25 grams of flour.

 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

For me as a German it was very unusual to measure everything by volume - I think in Europe every household owns a scale.

What might make it easier for busy housewives baking now and then a sunday pound cake, is really a pain in the butt for serious bakers. I, too, compared the weight/volume conversions of every cookbook I own, cooking magazines like "Cook's Illustrated" and "Fine Cooking", and several websites. The weights differ considerably, some by as much as 30 g!

I also weighed a cup of every kind of flour I use, and not two of them weigh the same. I ended up making volume to gram conversions for every recipe I use (except for 1/8 teaspoons, perhaps). When I make something for the first time, I jot down all  adjustments for liquids, flour or yeast amounts that were necessary, until I finally get it right - and that's then entered in my recipe program.

Happy baking and Happy New Year,

Karin

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Every package of flour lists its conversion ratio (grams per serving) one way or another.  Look at the nutrition information on the label and you'll be able to establish a standard for the flour you intend to use.   Then look at the text and do your best to determine how close your weight per cup compares with the author's.  With that information and a little experience with the type of flour you prefer to use you'll become more comfortable with the process in a shorter time.  Anything else, IMO, is an exercise in futility and a breeding ground for disappointment and failure.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

That is why baking still requires a baker.The baker judges how a batch needs to be tweaked depending on the flour characterisitics,any substitutions,humidity, ambient temp. etc.

What I do is make a recipe using my measuring cups, my measuring spoons and my ingredients. I do the scoop and sweep and then weigh the ingredients and write them down. When I've done the recipe 3-4 times and the measuring/weighing seem close, I write it as a tested recipe. The weights/volumes are NEVER identical from one time to the next but they are close enough.

Have delicious fun!

bonnie1345's picture
bonnie1345

And when you don't have a scale, use the centuries old rhyme. "the world is round, a quart to a pound".  I'm really just joking here......

imaloafer's picture
imaloafer

Actually, it's "A pints a pound the world around".  A quart is two pounds, but is true only for whole milk, water and whole eggs, where they're weight is equal to their volume. And even those, when taken into high quantities are off the mark at some point. Weight is the way, lol.

Cheers,

dcvman's picture
dcvman

Hi Taurus,

I am using www.convertizer.com/en/cooking/ . You can convert weight to volume of your ingredients.

Take care!

jetfan27's picture
jetfan27

I learned from an old German baker that the amount of flour is insignificant. The important measures are the liquids and yeast and salt. Add enough flour to make the dough the way you like it. I do that with some recipes that are not in weights.

jetfan27's picture
jetfan27

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flournwater's picture
flournwater

Because the ratio of flour/water dramatically affects the outcome, I would not say "the amount of flour is insignificant".  To prove the point, try adding 3/4 cup more to the amount of water specified in your favorite formula with 500 grams of flour or less in the ingredients and see how that works.

taurus430's picture
taurus430

I definitely agree with flournwater! I am starting to weigh and the only thing I weigh, which to me is significant, is the flour. To me, that's the one item I've learned with baking, that can be off (when by volume) significantly, to matter in a recipe.

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

Consistency is not possible unless you control every detail of the environment of the ingredients and the process.  Ambient humidity and air temperature have a tremendous effect on the ingredients and the resulting bread.   When I worked packing rolls at a Sunbeam bread plant, the dough was always made and handled exactly the same way but the results varied from day to day a great deal.  The factory was not "hermetically sealed" from the outside world -- the weather affected the bread.

Using metric weight measurements is more precise than using Imperial volume measurements -- and easier.  But still in all, there will not be total consistency.  On occasion, we all will make doorstops.