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Baking is known as a science that has gotten a reputation for being a tricky and precise process, and all of us know that accuracy is the key to a successful recipe. We all have had moments of where did I go wrong? How you measure your ingredients can make a big difference in how things turn out. So, for baking goods to reach their full potential, the ingredients must be used in exact proportions.

There are two approaches to measure ingredients, one is to measure by weight, and the other is to measure by volume.

Things to know:

Dry vs. Wet vs. Moist:

Figure out whether the ingredient you are using is dry or wet. You can look online if you are unsure. Below are some examples.

Dry IngredientMoist IngredientWet/Liquid Ingredient
Flour (whole wheat, all-purpose, etc.)ButterOil
Ground pecans, walnuts, almondsShorteningButtermilk, milk
Cocoa powderPeanut butterEggs
Old fashioned rolled oatsMayonnaiseHoney
SaltCream cheeseMolasses
Baking powder, baking sodaMelted chocolateWater
Sugar (granulated, powder)Sour creamWhipping, heavy cream
Cream of tartarCranberries mashed/pulsed with sugarSauces
Corn starchBanana (mashed)Extracts
Spices powderBrown sugarCorn syrup

Ounces vs. Fluid Ounces:

Generally, if a dry ingredient is mentioned in ounces, it's a unit of weight and should be measured on a scale. If a wet ingredient is mentioned in ounces, its fluid ounces (a unit of volume) and should be measured in a wet measuring cup.

Measuring by Weight:

It’s an easy, accurate, and less messy process as compared to measuring by volume.

Essential tool: To measure by weight, a digital scale is an essential tool.

How to measure by weight:

To measure the ingredients by weight, placing the mixing bowl on top of the scale and hit the "tare" or "zero" button. This will account for the weight of the bowl and set your scale's counter back to zero.

Now add your ingredient, e.g., flour, by spooning it into the bowl until the scale hits ounces the recipe calls for. If you don’t want to wash more dishes, you can simply hit the "tare" or "zero" button again. Add your next ingredient until the scale hits required ounces. Tare the scale again and repeat the above process until all of your ingredients are added.

Measuring by volume:

Volume is the standard form of measurement for most baking recipes.

Essential tools: Dry measuring cups, measuring spoons and liquid measuring cups of a few different sizes are essential.

Dry measuring cups

These cups come in sets of graduated sizes in both imperial (1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and 1 cup) and metric (50, 75,125 and 250 ml).

Dry ingredients:

Put flour or other light, powdery dry ingredient into your measuring cup until it domes up over the top. Use a straight edge, like the edge of a knife to level off the top of the cup.

Moist ingredients:

Press firmly into the dry measuring cup and level off the top with the straight edge of a knife.

Liquid measuring cups

These come in sets of graduated sizes in both imperial (1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and 1 cup) and metric (50, 75,125 and 250 ml). To measure liquids, place liquid measuring cup on a flat surface. Pour in liquid to the desired level. Bend down so that your eye is level with the measure to check for accuracy.

Measuring spoons

They are graduated with markings: 1/4 tsp, 1/2 tsp, 1 tsp, 1 tbsp, or 1 mL, 2 mL, 5 mL, 15 ml.

Dry ingredients:

Lightly spoon into a dry measure don’t pack or tap and level it off with the straight edge of a knife.

Moist ingredients:

For liquid ingredients, pack it down lightly until it holds the shape of the measure when turned out.

Liquid ingredients:

Fill the spoon and keep it level when measuring. To measure dense liquids oil spray or grease the spoon and then fill the liquid, this will keep the liquid from sticking.

Importance of having both kinds of measuring cups

Measuring dry ingredients

Let’s use the simplest ingredients that everyone has in their kitchen. Consider that your recipe requires 1/2 cup of flour. To measure the flour, use 1/2 dry measuring cup, fill it to the top and then level it, gives you exactly 1/2 cup of flour. Now, consider using a wet measuring cup. Scoop the flour into a liquid measuring cup until the 1/2 cup mark. The surface of the flour is uneven, as you can’t level it off. If you try to level it by tapping the cup on the surface, you will have to add more flour to reach the 1/2 cup mark. As a result, you cannot exactly get 1/2 cup. But you will get about 1/2 cup.

AmountMeasuring containerTappedWeight in grams
1/2 CupDry measuring cupNo62
1/2 CupLiquid measuring cupNo57
1/2 CupLiquid measuring cupYes65

These differences in grams may not seem a lot, but it can add up if you’re making a recipe that requires more cups of flour. When weighing ingredients such as baking powder or yeast, one gram can make all the difference.

Measuring dry ingredients

Let’s see the results using a dry measuring cup to measure the liquid ingredient. Consider that your recipe requires 1/2 cup of water and it is equal to 4 oz. To measure the water in a liquid measuring cup put it on a flat surface (in our case on the scale) and fill it till 1/2 cup mark and there you have it exactly 4oz.

Now, let’s put your dry measuring cup on flat surface (in our case on scale) and fill it till it reaches 4oz on scale but you will notice that the water has reached to the edge of the cup and is about to spill over at any moment and it is quite difficult to get all the water into your recipe without spilling it over or on the other hand if you don’t fill the water to the edge, then you can’t get the exact consistency.

So, it’s better to measure liquids in a liquid measuring cup as you only have to measure it up to the mark.