Flour conversion problems


Guy

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I was making some bread this last weekend that called for 4 cups of AP flour. The conversion is usually about 236ml per cup, so I brought out my kitchen scale and weighed out about 945ml of flour (~236*4). However, I was using a large measuring cup and according to the cup, this equated to over SEVEN cups of flour. I thought this seemed suspicious but figured the weight would be more accurate than my cup. A few hours later, I brought out a 100 pound brick of bread out of the oven, so clearly it was vastly too much flour (I figured this would happen the moment I mixed everything together, but was hopeful anyway lol).

Anybody know what I did wrong? Is my kitchen scale wonky? Maybe I messed up the tare with the measuring cup? Is my conversion math wrong?
 
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I was making some bread this last weekend that called for 4 cups of AP flour. The conversion is usually about 236ml per cup, so I brought out my kitchen scale and weighed out about 945ml of flour (~236*4). However, I was using a large measuring cup and according to the cup, this equated to over SEVEN cups of flour. I thought this seemed suspicious but figured the weight would be more accurate than my cup. A few hours later, I brought out a 100 pound brick of bread out of the oven, so clearly it was vastly too much flour (I figured this would happen the moment I mixed everything together, but was hopeful anyway lol).

Anybody know what I did wrong? Is my kitchen scale wonky? Maybe I messed up the tare with the measuring cup? Is my conversion math wrong?

Welcome.

You made the error that most new bakers make in that you used 1 cup =
8 ounces = 236 ml. But that does not apply to anything but liquid.

Because the grain of wheat is not the same weight as water, you cannot use the standard for measuring water to weigh things like sugar, flour, rice.

This link below will take you to a page that lists standard measurements by volume and weight for most baking ingredients.

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/ingredient-weight-chart.html

But…and you knew a “but” was coming, The weight of a cup of flour varies by the type of flour and the standard the recipe developer uses based on how they would measure flour if they were to use a measuring cup.

King Arthur flour has set a standard for 1 cup flour = 4 1/4 oz = 120 grams.

Which is correct if you use the stir, then lightly spoon and level method to measure a cup of flour.

But if you use a scoop and level or a dip and level method to measure a cup of flour, the weight of the flour will be more as the flour is compacted into the cup.

1 cup = 5 oz = 140 g for a dip and level.

Every recipe developer has their own way to measure by volume. So they establish the weight based on the method they would use if they were to use a measuring cup.

Recipes from America’s Test Kitchen, Serious Eats, and Stella Parks use the dip and level method. So they use the standard of 1 cup flour = 4oz = 140 g.

One of my favorite bakers, Dorie Greenspan uses the standard 1 cup flour = 4 3/4 oz = 136 g.

So you have to know a little bit about who developed the recipe. A lot of recipe developers use King Arthur’s standard of 1 cup = 4 1/4 ounce = 120 g.

If you are not sure the standard the recipe developer uses for flour, then I would recommend using 1 cup = 4 1/2 oz = 130 g. That splits the difference.

And btw, sugar weighs more than flour.
1 cup sugar = 7 oz = 200g.

But no matter how you measure sugar you’re pretty much going to have this measurement per cup every time.

And on a final note be aware that there are two types of measuring cups. A dry measuring cup and a liquid measuring cup. They are not the same and cannot be used interchangeably. If you measure liquid in a dry measuring cup it can be off by as much as 23%. That is substantial enough to have a very adverse impact on what you’re baking.
 

Guy

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Thanks for an amazingly comprehensive response Norcalbaker!

"And on a final note be aware that there are two types of measuring cups. A dry measuring cup and a liquid measuring cup. They are not the same and cannot be used interchangeably. If you measure liquid in a dry measuring cup it can be off by as much as 23%. That is substantial enough to have a very adverse impact on what you’re baking."

I had no idea this was a thing o_O
How do I know if my measuring cups are meant for dry or liquid ingredients?
 
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Thanks for an amazingly comprehensive response Norcalbaker!

"And on a final note be aware that there are two types of measuring cups. A dry measuring cup and a liquid measuring cup. They are not the same and cannot be used interchangeably. If you measure liquid in a dry measuring cup it can be off by as much as 23%. That is substantial enough to have a very adverse impact on what you’re baking."

I had no idea this was a thing o_O
How do I know if my measuring cups are meant for dry or liquid ingredients?


This style of measuring cup is a liquid measuring cup. Use it for liquids only.
1FAB7C02-F9B3-456D-882B-B9D09DA566B8.jpeg



This style of measuring cup is for dry measurement only. Flour, sugar, rice etc. I once tested the measuring cups to see if what I was taught in class was accurate. And in fact this measuring cup measures out more water by weight than the liquid measuring cup above.
1331F9AF-723A-4CD0-AD2D-F3DDBB20DA7C.jpeg
 
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If you're looking to weigh your ingredients rather than measure them by volume, then it might be a good idea to find a recipe that is written that way. UK recipe books always have solid ingredients listed by weight rather than volume. Converting from volume to weight is possible but it's tricky, so I always try to avoid it wherever possible. With some things it doesn't matter as much, but with things like bread it can be more difficult to get right.

In my opinion, it's far better to weight ingredients because there is so little variation in the results. 250g of flour will always be 250g of flour, no matter how compact it is.
 

Guy

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@Norcalbaker59 - Thank you for the details! This is mind blowing for me lol

@Becky - I agree with the sentiment which is, ironically, what got me in this predicament (trying to convert volume to weight of flour in a random recipe online with a healthy dose of ignorance).

I think I'm going to try the 1 cup = 130g approach on my next loaf and see where that takes me.
Thanks, everybody! :)
 
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Guy

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@Norcalbaker59 - As an aside, I actually used this site for the conversion (http://www.traditionaloven.com/culi...r/convert-measuring-cup-us-to-milliliter.html) which is why I thought the conversion of
"1 cup = 8 ounces = 236 ml" still held true. Is this just an incredibly misleading site or am I missing something where this would make sense in the context of flour (which is literally the title of the calculator... "all purpose flour (APF) from US cup to milliliter Conversion")?
 
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@Guy apologies, your post went into a moderation queue because of the link and I've only just seen it to approve it. That site doesn't look great, but if you click on the calculators on the right-hand side of the page (steering clear of all the many ads) then it does actually give you the right conversions for flour.

flour.jpg


The King Arthur one is far better IMO.
 
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@Norcalbaker59 - As an aside, I actually used this site for the conversion (http://www.traditionaloven.com/culi...r/convert-measuring-cup-us-to-milliliter.html) which is why I thought the conversion of
"1 cup = 8 ounces = 236 ml" still held true. Is this just an incredibly misleading site or am I missing something where this would make sense in the context of flour (which is literally the title of the calculator... "all purpose flour (APF) from US cup to milliliter Conversion")?

@Guy, that’s his old converter page. He too made the mistake of using water weight and applying it to flour.

The guy who created the site was not a baker. He is a wood burning outdoor oven builder. So he didn’t understand/know the fundamentals of baking.

But if you look at his updated version, he corrected it. Also scroll down to the bottom of the page way below the converter and discussion on flour. He posted a number of different charts on the weight of flour. Those are more in line with industry standards. But keep in mind it really comes down to what the recipe developer used as a standard. If King Arthur Flour is the recipe source, it will be 120 grams. If Serious Eats or America’s Test Kitchen is the recipe source, it will be 140 grams.


http://www.traditionaloven.com/conversions_of_measures/flour_volume_weight.html
 

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