The Fresh Loaf

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Weight of flour

earth3rd's picture

Weight of flour

Yesterday I purchased my new kitchen scale. My wife was making a cake and needed two cups of AP flour, I said to her, watch how easy it is to measure flour with this scale and promptly put 240 gr. of flour in her measuring cup. I was thinking it would be pretty close on the cup scale but to my surprise only came up to the 1 3/4 mark on the cup. She told me she didn't want to mess with her recipe so she added the other 1/4 cup to bring it up to two cups on the measuring cup scale. I do understand the variables with flour but how could it be out by so much? In the future with her recipe I need to measure 300 gr. instead of 240 gr. Do you think I would have to do that with all recipes that have the measurements in cups?

I did check the scale to see if it were measuring water OK, seeing as that should be fairly consistent and low and behold it was very close to the lines on the cup, so I believe the scale is functioning properly, not to mention its accurate to 1 gr. 

I was pretty puzzled as to the fairly large discrepancy. Looking forward to hearing what some of you have to say about that. Thanks in advance for any thoughts on the subject.

mrfrost's picture

Depends on how gently the flour is loaded into the cup. If flour is gently sprinkled into the measuring cup, then leveled off with a straight edge, the typical result is about 4.25 oz.

If the measuring cup itself is scooped into a mass of properly fluffed flour, then leveled off, the result is typically about 5 oz. But of course, the flour can be compacted, for whatever reason, to yield a result well over 5 oz.

Chuck's picture

Given that the weight of "a cup" of flour can range at least from 105 to 155 grams, I'm not at all surprised at the discrepancy you found. Some recipe books advise using only a 1-cup measure (not a 2-cup measure), because the 2-cup measure fills so differently from the 1-cup measure twice.

"Converting" recipes that already work for you from volume measures to weight measures is a big not-fully-solved problem, which is discussed here a lot (use the "search" box near the top left). The best bets seem to be either: i) find out what the average weight of a cup of that flour used by that cook is and use that as your conversion factor for other recipes made by that same cook with that same flour or 2) hope new recipes give weights and convert them if not, but leave old recipes unconverted.

fminparis's picture

That's why weighing is so much better.  Otherwise, it depends on the fluffiness of the flour, did you shake the cup, did you tap it, pat it?  A scale takes all the guesswork out of it and enables you to make small adjustments if you find that you need more/less flour or water.  Before I got a scale, I found different results taking flour out of a container I stored it in or taking it out of a fresh bag I had just opened. If you're serious about baking, get a good scale. 

GAPOMA's picture

As stated, the weight of a cup of flour varies considerably from kitchen to kitchen.  Not only does it vary by how compacted the flour is, but it can also vary based on humidity.  Thus, "Your Mileage May Vary".

Personally I've probably weighed "a cup" of AP flour in my kitchen probably 10 or more times over the past several years.  That's defined based on how I always scoop it out and level it off.  I've found that for me it varies only a little bit, from about 135g to 142g per cup.  For ease of use, I've chosen to define "a cup of AP flour" in my kitchen as 140g. While it may vary a bit day to day, this has proven to be an easy number to remember and it generally works great for every recipe I've made. And being off by 2-5g is actually a pretty small error (approximately 1.0 - 1.5 tsp per cup of flour).

Finally, remember you'll probably end up adjusting anyway.  For me, 125g generally leaves my doughs too wet and sticky and I'll end up adding a bit of flour during the knead to get the dough to the proper consistency.  If my dough is too dry, I add a bit of water until it "just feels right". :)

- Greg

flournwater's picture

I assume that, in making a cake, your wife was using cake flour.  Big weight to volume ratio difference between cake flour and bread flour.

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Also most flour measurements for cakes and such for home bakers always uses the phraise "sifted flour" so you will sift the flower into the measuring cup then level the top with a knife. I think this was a way to get a more standard measurement.

Give that a try and see how that comes out.

earth3rd's picture

Thanks to all of you who replied to this question, and to those that might still answer. I do plan on using the scale for bread making and thats why I bought it. I have made several loaves of bread so far but would like to increase my level of expertise.

I am a retired tool maker and professional photographer, so I've always been a bit annal on measurement. That's what kind of drew me into bread making in the first place.

Good answers.

G-man's picture

From what I've seen, baking sweets like cakes, cookies, and quickbreads is a vastly different animal than baking risen breads. They behave very differently every step of the process, and indeed you're aiming for two very different goals.


Cakes and cookies work fine if you're using volumetric measures. Bread does too, for that matter...the scale will add more consistency to the finished product, but will perhaps be more helpful to the bread baker than the pastry chef.

ssor's picture

I baked bread for 30 years for my family using measuring cups and I made consistantly good bread But it was always the same number of loaves. If I wanted to make more or less I was playing "I hope that is about right" with my measurements. I found an old postage scale that resolves 1/2 ounces and I don't have to guess any more. But the first thing I did was measure out the flour for my goto recipe and then weigh it. My math skills have always been good so I could easily increase or decrease from there.