Hi friends! Welcome to the second post in my Baking Basics series!
A lot of people claim to have a stronger preference for either baking or cooking, so I want to start by asking a few questions…
Do you prefer adventure and impromptu plans over structure and routine? I bet you love to cook.
Do you thrive with order and schedule over spontaneity? I bet you lean toward baking.
Do you think your preference matches your innate personality traits?
Speaking from personal experience, it pays to have an overly-meticulous and methodical personality when you’re a baker. 🙂
Getting back to the point of this post… unlike cooking a savory dish, where you can add a little here or there and exercise more freedom with your measurements, you DO need to be precise when following a recipe when baking! An extra tablespoon or two of flour could result in a dry, tough cake. A teaspoon less of baking soda could mean your bread doesn’t rise up in the oven.
Side note: this doesn’t mean you can’t be creative when baking! The same basic ingredients- flour, butter, sugar, eggs- used in different ratios, can create a million different results!
Here are a few basic tips to remember the next time you are measuring your ingredients when baking:
When measuring your flour, don’t scoop it out with your measuring cup! You are likely getting too much flour when you do this because it is packed in the container or bag. Instead, use a spoon and fluff up the flour a little. Use the spoon to transfer the flour to your measuring cup, and then level it off with a knife. If you need a visual, I’ll let our friends at Martha Stewart show you!
Dry vs. Liquid Measuring Cups
There are different measuring cups for dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, etc.) and liquid ingredients (water, oil, milk, etc.). When adding liquid ingredients, they need to be measured at eye level on a flat, level surface (don’t measure while holding in your hand!). Pour your liquid in and bend down to eye-level to ensure precision.
Ounces vs. Fluid Ounces
They aren’t the same! Ounces are a unit of weight, and most often used with dry ingredients. Fluid ounces are a unit of volume, and are used for measuring liquid ingredients (use the liquid measuring cups listed above 🙂 ). Think about a cup of flour and a cup of water- they take up the same amount of space but have different weights (1 cup of flour = about 4.1 ounces, and 1 cup of water = about 8.3 ounces). So when a recipe calls for ounces, it is calling for a specific weight, and it’s best to use a scale to be most accurate.
Read and follow the directions!
This may sound obvious but “1 cup sifted flour” and “1 cup flour, sifted” are not the same! In the first, you would sift the flour and then measure it. In the latter, you would measure the flour and then sift it. You may not think so, but it leads to different amounts of flour… and it matters!
Did you learn anything new?! I hope these tips make you feel more confident as you continue your baking journey!
Now go bake something amazing!