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Apr 25, 2007 09:33 AM

Sifting Flour

So I need help improving my workflow when sifting flour. There are two scenarios I usualy face:

* 1 cup flour, sifted - For this I would put 1 cup of flour into the sifter, and sift on to parchment paper and then transfer.

* 1 cup of sifted flour - This is where I face issues. I don't have much space in the kitchen, so I repeat my process from above and then pour the sifted flour back into a measuring cup until I hit 1 cup. Afterwards I have to pour the extra flour back into the bag. This process is much more cumbersome and I was hoping that someone out there has a better suggestion.

Should I invest in a big air tight bowl to hold flour and sift over that bowl? Should I invest in a scale and forego any sort of sifting? If so, what's a good scale? How do you guys work with flour?


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  1. For starters, I don't keep flour in the bag...I transfer it to a cannister. It's easier to keep bug-free, and easier to return the unused sifted flour to, compared to a bag. I also don't use a regular sifter to sift flour. Instead, I use a small strainer - I'd estimate that it's about five inches across. I put a sheet of parchment down on the counter, put the measuring cup on it, then spoon flour into the strainer while holding it directly over the measuring cup. Lightly tap the strainer to 'sift' the flour, and stop when the measuring cup is full. If I take my time and am really careful (not really my style!), there's almost no flour on the parchment. Usually, tho, there's a little spillage that didn't make it into the measuring cup, and it's pretty easy to dump back into the cannister.

    1. to sift flour quickly, throw away your sifter or use as a decoration-- dump a bunch of flour into a large mixing bowl, then aerate the flour by whisking it thoroughly with a wire whisk, measure according to your recipe, then dump the excess flour back into your flour bin or container-- you can "re-sift" for your next recipe.

      1 Reply
      1. re: soupkitten

        I don't sift flour either. I have flour in a cannister. Gently turn it upside down and back again to aerate it. Then I measure and whisk w/ other dry ingredients. It might not be as precise as a scale but my baked goods always turn out fine.

      2. Jfood uses waxed paper as the flour catcher. To make a cup of sifted flour I place the flour in the sifter and place a 1 cup measure underit but on top of the waxed paper. Try to get as much as possible in the cup while sifting, spoon the remainder on top then fold the paper and slide the residue back into the bag. Jfood keeps the bag of flour in a gallon Hefty bag in the pantry

        1. I usually bake according to Rose Levy Barenbaum's method of starting with the dry ingreds in the mixer. So mixer bowl goes on scale with tare function, the correct weight of flour gets sifted in directly. Zero mess, zero waste.

          1. I measure by weight and then put the flour through a sieve or whisk it. I love my scale, wouldn't do without it.

            11 Replies
              1. re: variaas


                (Sorry about the size of the link--I don't know how to hyperlink at CH.) I've also had the Salter Aquatronic, and found it as good, though harder to clean and a little less sturdy. I had a different brand before these two, but don't recall which, I'm sorry. Capacity and a tare function, both gms. and ozs. are the functions that matter most to me. There are others which are accurate to the gram (this one is to 2 grams) and have more bells and whistles, but I didn't see the necessity. I still measure anything called for in amount smaller than a teaspoon.

                1. re: amyzan

                  Amy, I have this same Salter scale and find it more than adequate for my needs also.

                  BTW, to get rid of overly long links, you night be interested in trying the link below:

                  I ran your original link through it and got this instead:


                  1. re: amyzan

                    I have an older version of this scale:


                    but it has a 5-pound limit but only $29.

                2. re: amyzan

                  I've considered getting a scale but didn't know how hard it would be to do recipe conversions from cups. Is it ever a problem?

                  1. re: chowser

                    Let's start this with I'm English. I weigh things. Anytime I use an American recipe I hiss and snarl. I hate cups. As a child I loved to cook (still do) my favourite biscuits need cups of flour, I didn't know what the conversion was at the time, the biscuits came out different everytime, too wet, too dry, just right. Nightmare. (Don't even ask about the recipe that called for a 'stick' of butter!) Now I convert the sugar and flour in baking recipes to weight, other things I'll convert or not, a tsp of ginger is a tsp of ginger after all. This weighing thing does extend to recipes that call for certain weights of eggs... I have a different Salter scale, accurate to 2g which is (let's face it) good enough. Actually maybe I am obsessive as I also weigh water and milk - it means you don't have to wash a jug up too! I can dig out the weights I use - if you would like, they came from Raymond Blanc's cookery school so I consider them reliable. (Oh and I buy my flour pre-sifted in bags so I don't remember the last time I sifted flour. Icing sugar and cocoa I can tell you.) They do not make a distinction between a cup of flour and a cup of sifted flour.

                    1. re: chowser

                      Wikipedia has a great article on the whole weights/volume thing. The two links near the bottom might be helpful.


                      The only issue, of course, is that the big problem with cups and such is that everyone has a different way of measuring things. Spoon, scoop, rounded, level, packed, loose... I think if you try to convert a recipe, you'll probably have to do some testing! Another option is to look for cookbooks that have the weights listed -- some of the fancier restaurant-style cookbooks I have do that (The Cake Bible and Amy's Bread are two I can think of off the top of my head).

                      1. re: chowser

                        Conversion is rarely a problem for me. If the recipe doesn't list weights, I just read the nutrition label for the ratio, then do the math in my head. For instance, most flours (excepting cake) are 30 grams to 1/4 c.--that's right on the label--and if I need a cup, that's 120 grams. 1/3 c. is 40 grams, etc. After a while, I've come to know the weights of an amount of a common ingredient, like oils, sugars, flour, etc. I think the only time I've had trouble is when I was baking from a an amateur cook's recipe, where they may not have measured with good technique, and then wrote the recipe up reflecting heavy cups of flour, etc. but that's very rare. You never really know how something will turn out when you make it with an unpublished recipe anyway. I consider them test recipes.

                        1. re: chowser

                          Thanks everyone. I have a couple of gift certificates to Williams-Sonoma and you've convinced to to get a scale. The recipes I use are half and half (in showing both) as measurements go but I've passed a few good recipes because they don't have cups. I'm pretty good at quick conversions but I store my baking things in cannisters and throw out the packaging. Then, I run into the problem of buying a large Costco pack of powdered sugar and the serving size is a tablespoon.

                          Another question--I don't know if it matters but I live in a really humid area in the summer. Does that affect the weight of things like flour?

                          1. re: chowser

                            I haven't noticed a difference, but I air condition the house most of the summer, so the humidity inside stays relatively low.

                            1. re: chowser

                              I would suggest making sure you keep your flour in an air tight bag.