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Do you weigh or measure flour for dough?

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It appears from some comments here that some pretty much use an exchange of 100 grams of flour is approximately 1 cup and they go with that. Some weigh and feel strongly about that. I found with my initial forays into this whole, scary dough world that, in my kitchen, 100g of flour is a scant 2/3 c. And if I went with 100=1 my dough was insanely too dry. We are at 6400' elevation and it is very, very dry here and I'm guessing that has something to do with it. From cooking a little and reading a lot here, "dough" isn't a hard and fast term and everybody's is going to vary a little to a lot. Do you weigh or measure? If you weigh, what point of reference do you use? Does yours weigh out like my does? As most of my cookbooks don't use metric measure anyway, I guess I'd always have to futz around with it.

I'd appreciate any (more) advice I can get on this subject. The moderators kindly let a thread get quite off-topic recently and I got some help. I'd like more please! Thanks.

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  1. I'm assuming you mean bread dough? I use cups and start with the amount given in the recipe, but the amount actually required depends on the humidity (and I live in a very humid place) and how that humidity has affected the flour I have on hand. Don't be scared, I have found working with dough to be a matter of trial and error - and you learn in the process. With your elevation and dry climate, start off with less flour than you used the first time, you can always add more. I'm sure others will weigh in here.

    1. Well, first off, who are these people saying that a cup of flour is 100 grams? The standard weight I've always seen given for one cup of flour is between 120 and 125 grams, depending on the kind of flour it is.

      Personally, I tend to use the King Arthur Flour guidelines for weight: 4 1/4 ounces (approximately 120 grams) equals one cup of AP flour.

      Here's KAF's Master Weight Chart for other weights. All weights are given in ounces, which I tend to find easier to work with than grams, but there are plenty of online calculators if your scale only weighs in grams or something.

      http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe...

      However, your real problem was the amount of liquid: my years in Boulder and Albuquerque (both high-altitude cities) taught me that ANY baking application required the following adjustments:

      For every cup of liquid, add an extra 2-4 tablespoons.

      For each teaspoon of baking powder, decrease the amount by one-quarter teaspoon: in other words, if your biscuits call for 2 teaspoons of baking powder, use 1 1/2 teaspoons instead.

      And arguably, you may want to take a tablespoon out of each cup of sugar, but I usually didn't bother with that one.

      1. I try always to weigh my ingredients but my formula is a bit different from what you describe. I use 4.5 ounces of flour to equal one cup. That's about 130 grams. But I've found that there are so few recipes that specify ingredients by weight that when I use the formula I rely upon there is always a wag factor. I suspect that's because the person who developed the recipe used the dip/level/pour method for determining quantities of ingredients by volume and no two people can dip/level/pour precisely the same. So where my cup is 4.5 ounces, his/hers might be more or less and another cook will get something else entirely.
        Because flour tends to absorb more liquid in dry climates, you'll probably need to adjust the liquid to flour ratio. The high altitude factor doesn't make it any easier. At 6,400 feet I suspect you can boil water at 200 degrees. Once water begins to convert from a liquid to steam it can't get any hotter (and still remain a liquid) so you're at a distinct disadvantage from the get go. Your leavening agents expand more (so I suspect you reduce those to some extent) and if you're baking bread your rise time will be reduced.
        My only suggestion is for you to keep a note book at hand in the kitchen and carefully note adjustments in your methods that seem to work best. Most recipes, I believe, are written for sea level cooks and bakers. I guess that means that no matter what recipe you work from, you'll have to make allowances for just about every step of the process so whether a cup is 100 grams or 130 grams at sea level, it won't matter much at 6,400 feet.

        1. You could try some recipes from books that start out with measurements by weight rather than volume, then get a baseline "feeling" for it. Because, like you said, location, weather, humidity, elevation, affect baking so much, I think you have to learn your location and adapt from there.

          1. To add to the confusion to replies already, my Salter scale book has 1 c=5 oz for ap flour. I go by that and then by feel. Most recipes tell you the consistency you want after kneading the dough and I go by that.

            1. I measure, but I'm gluten-free so use a variety of GF flours: buckwheat, millet, quinoa, garbanzo, amaranth, sorghum, etc. I suspect you're referring to wheat flour.

              1. I do baking both professionally and for fun. I always weigh my flours. Different kinds of flours compact differently and a cup is not a cup is not a cup. But an ounce is *always* an ounce!

                If you weigh you will always have a consistent base, and *know* that anything that goofs is from differing humidities, altitudes, temperatures, not the vagaries of the flour.

                Most good recipe sources will have weights as well as measures. And don't be afraid of those grams! Professionally I make a very tasty but VERY healthy cookie that is nearly a pharmaceutical product. We weigh everything to the nearest gram (30 grams of water to a teaspoon give or take).

                9 Replies
                1. re: KiltedCook

                  I'm retired now but had a checkered work history :) but with quite an emphasis on the medical and the scientific. Which may be part of the reason that "dough" frightens me. Seems rather hocus-pocus. But I LOVE weighing things -well, not myself - and have a great digital scale that gives me ounces or grams. I've mentioned in another thread that I know that there are books for baking at high altitudes. I think I'll check one out of the library. I really appreciate your and all the comments. De-mystifying helps.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    If you have a scientific mindset, you may want to find "baker's percentage" formulas. They have no specific measurements; everything is expressed as a percentage of the weight of the flour used, which can be any value you choose.

                    So, if the formula is 100% flour, 100% water, .05% yeast (a very wet dough), you could choose to do 1LB flour and 1LB water, or 10LB flour and 10LB water. Similarly, if it's 100% flour (it's always 100% flour as this is the baseline), 50% water, this would be 1LB flour, .5LB water, or 10LB flour, 5LB water, etc.

                    Won't help to adjust for higher altitude (sorry!), but for the scientific-minded, it helps remove some of the mystery from bread baking.

                    1. re: aravenel

                      I saw that on a pizza making website and, while some eyes would roll back in their heads, I did find it appealing. I'm basically starting with pasta, then will go to pizza dough (maybe even today). Bread making may take me awhile.

                      While I have to read some of these posts multiple times to "get it" it's obvious that this isn't as easy as some make it out to be. I'm sure once you nail it, you really do. But the beginning, IMO, is harder than any other type of cooking I've done. Most recipes are quite arbitrary; if you follow them, you get the described dish. Then you can modify. But dough in all its myriad forms is much more loosey-goosey it seems to me.

                      I continue to thank all who are mentoring :) me in this.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Yes, baking, particularly bread, is more difficult than most cooking. This is because:
                        A) you have fewer ingredients, and therefore less latitude to cover up mistakes.
                        B) the ingredients are nothing special on their own, so it's not like a steak, where even bad steak is good steak
                        C) Perhaps most importantly, baking is chemistry, whereas cooking is art. You can fudge cooking and still come up with something edible, whereas baking, you've really gotta get the formula right, or at least close thereto, or it's not going to work.

                        Don't get discouraged though--keep trying, the good news is baking is (usually) cheap.

                      2. re: aravenel

                        But how do those formulas deal with varying degrees of moisture in the flour?

                        1. re: paulj

                          The simple answer is: they don't. No recipe ever can, because it depends completely on the locale in which the baking is done, and even more than that, the brand of the flour being used (different brands have different protein contents, and the protein content is what dictates how much water the flour can absorb).

                          Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure is experience.

                          The good news is, you're not going to screw up the recipe if the dough is a bit too wet. The moisture of the dough affects primarily the texture of the dough, with wetter doughs creating doughs that have bigger holes in them when baked. I'd err on the side of too wet, but again, as long as the dough isn't a brick, a tablespoon of water off in either direction isn't going to ruin the recipe.

                          If it's too dense, add a bit more water next time. If it's too big, and the holes make it hard to spread your butter or what not, use less water next time.

                          1. re: aravenel

                            Interesting. Here I thought bread would be harder (and may still be due to elevation) and pasta easier. But holes in pasta (for me anyway) is much more difficult to deal with than holes in bread. Really interesting. Hell, maybe I should just throw caution to the winds and go make a damn loaf of bread! (Profanity for fun emphasis!)

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I have to say even bread that isn't "right" is still good when it's freshly made (as long as it rises, does the basics). Nice crumb and crust are bonuses but even bread out of my bread maker when I just throw everything in is good, freshly baked. I don't do it that way often but in a time/energy crunch will. But, when you get it right... nothing beats it. But, pasta has more room for error and mistakes can be easy to tell, from rolling out to texture in the bite.

                    2. re: KiltedCook

                      I think you meant to say "30 grams of water to an OUNCE, give or take". Or perhaps "5 grams to a teaspoon".

                    3. I was getting inconsistent results with my bread maker so I decided to use weight. I sifted flour and carefully measured 4 cups and then weighed it. 17 oz. Now when I make bread (twice a week or more) I just weigh out 17 oz.
                      However....a snag. I suddenly started to get very wet gloopy dough. What???
                      Then it dawned on me...humidity. It was humid for a few days and the flour picked up some moisture and the ratio of flour/water was out of whack.
                      I have learned to stick my finger in the air (so to speak) and guess.
                      So far so good.
                      So to answer your question...I weigh.

                      1. Yet another variable is the type of bread. The non-knead that many of us have making for the past year or two is supposed to start out 'shaggy'. A one-pot that a few of us are trying starts goopy (2 1/4c liquid to 4c flour). Both of these depend on a long rise.

                        1. Great question! The variety of responses is exactly my problem - everyone has different weights for 1c of flour. My old Joy of Cooking lists 1c all purpose flour = 4oz, while KA says 5oz. And then there's the difference in flour types! And the differences in measuring cups!!

                          I far prefer to use weights, and when I come across recipes that list the ingredients in grams or ounces, I'm always happy. Otherwise, I bake following cup measurements, and then try to adjust to weights in subsequent tries (based on what MY 1c of all-purpose flour weighs, or 110g.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: RosemaryHoney

                            King Arthur says 4.25 for AP, not 5.

                            http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe...

                            1. re: RosemaryHoney

                              The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhardt, has a great chart in it that details out the weights of different types of flour (AP vs high protein vs whole wheat, etc). Also has some great recipes for bread.