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Jan 26, 2009 01:01 PM

Do you weigh or measure flour for dough?

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.

      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.