The Fresh Loaf

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Grams versus Cups

Peggy Nielsen's picture
Peggy Nielsen

Grams versus Cups

Grams vs Cups

Just about every conversion chart I see has different weights for a cup of flour. Understand that different types have different weights, but all-purpose shows anywhere from 120g/cup to 143/cup.  Any ideas???

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

...lies the problem.

The only way around this, when converting volume to weight, is to adjust by feel. So either find recipes that only use weight or expect discrepancies in which case you'll need to allow for adjustments and aim for what feels like a nice dough. 

idaveindy's picture

is the same flour. Even comparing AP to AP and Bread to Bread.

Then there is the matter of whether the flour has recently been sifted, or has sat around, been jostled, and settled / packed.

Then there is the matter of whether you spoon the flour into the measuring cup, or if you just scoop the cup into the flour container.

Hence all recipes are guidelines, and need minor adjustments due to local conditions.

Rock's picture

I can't remember when I used cups. Been using scales since the 1980s. 

Most home recipes used cups, so having a standard weight was important when converting things to a formula with percentages. I was kind of shocked watching a King Arthur video a few months ago and heard that they were using 4.25 oz for a cup of flour. Years ago, before the spoon and sweep method it was closer to 5 oz of flour per cup. That, of course was with the scoop and sweep method. All the more reason to weigh ingredients.

No matter what standard you use for a cup of flour or other ingredients, consistency is important. So pick a set weight for a cup, for example, and then work on the recipe 'till it works for you.

King Arthur has a nice list that you can search to help you get started.


clazar123's picture

As others have said, the baker has to be able to adjust for current conditions-damp flour, sifted flour, slight changes in particle size,etc,etc.

I did an interesting experiment once with my daughter. We both used our own measuring cups and weighed out 1 cup of flour about 5 times and listed the weights.. We walked away and came back and did it again. It was amazing! The variation between us was notably different but what was really astounding was that within our own numbers, there was significant variation-even when we really tried to scoop and sweep consistently.  It doesn't take much for those numbers to change.

Since then, I think of a recipe as more of a suggestion rather than a formula.

Bake some delicious fun!

phaz's picture

All depends on how much air is in the flour - ie how fluffed up it is. More compact = more weight in the same volume and vice versa. You'll see a lot of "sift flour first" (at least in the old days you did) and that can reduce the variation, but still isn't very precise. 

Without weighting ingredients you'll have to develope and go by feel. I've never owned a scale - so it can be done (and can be more rewarding as you're relying on your own instinct). The funny thing is, even if you are weighing everything down to the last milligram, you still gotta feel the dough. Time won't dictate when a dough is ready, feel will (lots of issues can be avoided by disregarding times given in a recipe and going by how the dough feels). You'll see when you've done it a few times. Enjoy! 

gerhard's picture

at home for at least 30 years. Our first home scale was a balance scale that had some sort olive green finish so my guess it was new in the 60s maybe 70s as the colour that was sort of popular in kitchen appliances then. The two scales we now have is the one with a sweeping needle that works with a spring and is amazingly accurate, we bought it in the mid nineties and the small electronic scale we have had for 10 years and use daily now. It does conversions from imperial to metric easily and has a large enough capacity for our use. Not really interested in being accurate to the 1/100th of gram since we aren’t in the drug trade so either scale is accurate enough but the electronic one is more versatile.

hanseata's picture

As a German I’m used to weighing my ingredients and routinely convert recipe amounts from volume to weight. I use King Arthur Flour’s or NYBakers’ conversion table.

I understand that volume measures are considered to be more easy and practical, but they also come with a caveat: the necessity to spoon and level - not just shove the cup measure into the bag and shake the excess off.

And using cup measures for sticky ingredients like honey or sour cream? You waste your time to scrape those out and have more clean-up.

Rock's picture

Something to note when using older cookbooks or recopies is that the older ones probably use the scoop and sweep method rather than the spoon and sweep.

After posting on this thread yesterday, I went back and looked at some of my baking notes from almost 20 years ago. In the scoop and sweep days, Cooks Illustrated magazine had a cup of AP flour at 5 ounces, while King Arthur was a little closer to today's weights with 1 pound of AP flour measuring 3.5 to 4 cups.