Measuring Flour for Muffins

Recipes often caution us to measure flour correctly. “If you must use a measuring cup, spoon and level! Never scoop!” But how much of a difference do two more utensils make? To find out, I made muffins using flour that was measured with a scale, spooned and leveled into a measuring cup, and scooped from the bag.

Measuring Accurately and Precisely

“Baking is a science.” We’ve all heard it before—in fact, when I get home from my science day job and bake, my brain is still in the same mode. In both cases, we combine specific ingredients in a certain way to make something exact happen. Baking relies on ingredients to interact just so to create a delicious treat. And as we’ve seen in the experiments I’ve shared, changes in the amounts of ingredients, the way they’re combined, or the temperature in the oven lead to changes at the molecular level that translate into a different baked good. Thus, accurate and precise measurement is important to recreate and write recipes. In this post, we’re going to discuss two concepts of measurement that are often conflated, accuracy and precision, and how they apply to measuring ingredients in the kitchen.

Units of Measurement

Cups, grams, ounces, milliliters, teaspoons… Recipes use so many units to tell us how much of each ingredient we need. Why are there so many? What’s the difference? Which one should we use? In this post, we’ll discuss what these units represent and which units are best to use for different ingredients. We’ll also describe how to convert between units so that you can try any recipe regardless of the measuring equipment you have. In the next post, we’ll use this information to discuss how to measure accurately and precisely in the kitchen.