You are acing adulthood if you know the difference between teaspoon and tablespoon. And you are a true star if you know how to measure ingredients correctly while baking. For any other dish, even major mistakes can be fixed. Too much salt? Break in a few eggs or add a few vegetables. Something got a little burnt? Eat it with some kind of fondue. There’s always a fix. But in baking, the slightest deviation in quantity can change the face of the whole dessert and not in a good way, which makes perfection all the more crucial.
So if you want to make your friend’s birthday cake with them actually liking it, then go ahead and read our measuring techniques. It will help you get it just right and just perfect, which in the baking world is at par with excellence.
The backbone of any confection, this is the ingredient that is somehow always mis-measured. The right way to measure the flour is to ‘spoon and level’. Do not scoop out the flour with the cup. Add it to the cup with a spoon and then remove the excess with the back of a knife.
An important point of consideration is the measurement of sifted flour. If the recipe says ‘1 cup of flour, sifted’, measure the flour and then sift it. If the recipe says ‘1 cup of sifted flour’, sift the flour and then measure it. Read your recipes properly or you will end up creating something like a beef trifle, but won’t be able to get away with it like Rachael did.
Use the same ‘spoon and level’ method for oats as well. Though with oats, the quantity can change depending upon the type of oats. So again, read the recipe properly and select the oats accordingly.
3. Baking Powder and Baking Soda
Not a single recipe will ask for a cup full of baking soda or baking powder. While we can only hope that joke worked, the way to make sure that your baking powder and baking soda are right is to use it up within 6 months. Then, you scoop it out with a spoon and level it with the back of a knife.
4. Dry Yeast
Standard packets use 2.25 spoons of yeast, which is a quarter of an ounce. Use this information wisely.
5. Sugar (Powdered and Granulated)
With powdered sugar, use the ‘spoon and level’ method. If the batch you have is lumpy, sift it beforehand. For granulated white or brown sugar, scoop it out with a cup and level with the back of a knife. One important thing to remember if using brown sugar, and this comes with reading your recipe carefully, is that unless specified, you can use light brown or dark brown sugar interchangeably. This is a point of consideration as dark brown sugar has a stronger molasses flavour. Keep this in mind when measuring or mixing your sugars.
6. Cocoa Powder
Whether you use natural cocoa or otherwise, the scoop and level method works to measure it accurately. If the cocoa has been sitting in your pantry for long, you might want to sift it beforehand to avoid an unnecessary clumpy texture.
7. Liquid Sweeteners
Measure them in the dry measuring cups. To avoid liquid sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, agave nectar or syrup sticking to the cup, spray the inside of it with non-stick spray. That way, it becomes easier for you to wash the dishes.
Measure them at eye level. Pour them into the cup and then double check to make sure it is exactly at the level that it should be in the cup. This makes a huge difference to the consistency of your desserts.
We are talking about sour cream, peanut butter, mashed banana, applesauce etc. They are best measured in dry measuring cups with the scoop and level method. Liquid measuring cups do not provide the same accuracy for these as the dry cups. A tip here, if a recipe requires butter to be in liquid state, measure it in its solid state and then melt it.
Of course, you want chocolate chips, fruits or nuts and raisins on your cake. We would say that the right way to measure this is up to you. Their quantity may be customized as per your preference. Seriously, fill it up or just sprinkle it or add it in layers, every method is fair game.
It is important to remember that measurement of baking ingredients in the common household happens by cup, as it will also be written in most recipes. But it is just for ease of understanding and, well, measurement. Although, in some countries, measurements are given according to weight. For example, in some countries, the recipe asks for 1 cup of flour, then elsewhere, it could ask for 100 gm of flour. Either way, whichever language of baking you choose to follow, have the baking tools accordingly. Most measurements are standard, so make sure that you have the right baking tools. By that we mean the correct cups and spoons of measurement. With them, baking can transform from something as impossible as rocket science to something as simple as a regular cup of tea. Come to think about it, that would actually go very well with that cake you are going to bake very soon.