Because baking relies so heavily on chemical reactions to turn flour, water, sugar, and other ingredients into delicious baked goods, precise measurements are necessary.
Using precise measurements ensures that your baked items won’t be too dry or too wet and that they’ll produce the shape, texture, and taste you’re looking for.
Baking requires measuring both wet and dry ingredients, and there are several handy tools you can use to do this.
Dry Measuring Cups
Dry measuring cups are some of the most common measuring tools used in baking. These cups are usually found in a nested set, although adjustable dry measuring cups are available.
Most sets include cups in 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, and 1/4 cup sizes, and some sets include measurements in between those. Most measuring cup sets are made of plastic or metal.
Dry measuring cups are the exact size of the measurement printed on their handle. This means they don’t have a lip.
When measuring dry ingredients, you can scoop the ingredient into the measuring cup and then use a knife or another flat object to level off the top of the ingredient against the edge of the measuring cup.
This creates a very accurate measurement.
Dry measuring cups can be used for measuring liquid ingredients, but because they don’t have a lip, this can be somewhat tricky, as it makes spills much more likely.
These cups also lack a spout, so it’s harder to pour liquid ingredients out of the cup without spilling.
When measuring out most dry ingredients, you can simply dip the measuring cup into the ingredient and bring up a full cup before leveling it off.
If you need to measure flour, though, remember to sift it before adding it to the cup. Instead of scooping the flour up, spoon it into the cup.
This helps to keep the flour airy, which gives a more accurate measurement.
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Liquid Measuring Cups
Liquid measuring cups are similar to dry measuring cups, but they’re clear and made of glass or plastic.
They also tend to be larger, with some measuring cups measuring 2 or 4 cups.
Each liquid measuring cup has a series of measurements, using both imperial cups and metric milliliters, printed on the side, so you can add your liquid ingredient until you reach the line for the measurement you need.
Unlike dry measuring cups, liquid measuring cups have a lip that extends higher than the largest measurement, so you can add liquids without worrying too much about spills.
Although you can use these measuring cups to measure dry ingredients, this lip makes it challenging to level off a dry ingredient, so measurements of dry ingredients may not be as accurate.
Each measuring cup also has a small spout that makes it easy to pour liquids.
Measuring spoons are similar to dry measuring cups, but they measure much smaller sizes. Like measuring cups, measuring spoons are often made of plastic or metal and are sold in a set.
Usually, a tablespoon, teaspoon, and fractions of tablespoons and teaspoons are included in each set. Some sets might also include a spoon that is labeled as “a pinch.”
Measuring spoons are used to measure both liquid and dry ingredients.
They’re most commonly used for things that only require small amounts, such as salt, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or baking soda.
In the United States, where the imperial measuring system, which uses cups, is most common, most people use dry and liquid measuring cups to accurately measure ingredients for baking.
Cups measure ingredients in volume, and bakers can use ratios to create working recipes.
However, in much of the rest of the world where the metric system is popular, baking ingredients are measured in grams, which is a measure of weight.
Many people consider measuring by weight to be much more accurate, as volume measurements can fluctuate depending on how densely each ingredient is packed into a cup or how accurately it’s poured.
Many recipes from around the world only list baking ingredients by weight. If you want or need to measure ingredients this way, you can use a kitchen scale.
When using a kitchen scale, you can measure almost all of your ingredients with just one tool.
First, you’ll place a bowl on the scale, then press the tare or power button, depending on your scale type, to erase the weight of the bowl.
You can then add your ingredients one at a time, pouring in the correct weight and then erasing that weight after the addition of each ingredient.
Yeast Measuring Cups
Ingredients measured with tablespoons and teaspoons are usually still measured by volume, even for a recipe that calls for everything else to be measured by weight.
The only exception to this is yeast, which is often measured by weight. If you don’t have a scale, you can still measure yeast by weight by purchasing a tiny yeast measuring cup.