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Flour Weight

So far I haven't given in and bought a scale cause it seems most recipes work out converting ounces to cups and eyeballing if the conversion result is a weird number.

Now for Alton Brown's Tres Leches Cake he calls for 6 3/4oz of cake flour which is roughly 0.84 cups. Is it fine to used 1c of cake flour or since the texture of the cake flour is different I should definitely try to be more precise?

Wonder if anyone has any experience with this recipe.


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  1. A cup of cake flour is roughly equal to 5 ounces of flour if you use the dip and level method. If you use the spoon and level method it will be equal to closer to 4 - 4.25 ounces

    1. However, the mass (bulk) of 5 ounces of cake flour is not the same as 5 ounces of AP flour. If Alton Brown went to the trouble to break down a recipe with an amount of flour that precise he's pretty serious about it. I defy anyone to "eyeball" .84 cups of flour and, as 1POINT21GW points out, bulk measure is always a guess. I'd recommend you buy the scale and do it right.

      1 Reply
      1. re: todao

        You're right. Ultimately, the best thing to do would be to buy and use a kitchen scale.

        Regarding the ultra-precise measurement, I'm betting it wasn't written in the recipe, but, rather, a number alliels determined using a conversion site. I just don't know that I've ever seen a recipe that called for something like "0.84 cups flour".

      2. It is possible that Alton Brown is just poking fun at himself, or his readers. If you've never found the need for a scale before now, why buy one just to measure 6 3/4 oz flour for one recipe? (I'm a scale convert though, I must admit.) The point of such a ridiculous measure may be to induce his readers to use a scale rather than volume measures, and it may also be his not so so subtle way of telling his readers that conversions from one method of measure to another are not straightforward.

        Granted, the recipe is for a cake, but absolute precision is absolutely not necessary for a tres leches cake that ends up gooey anyway from being soaked in milk - the texture of the cake will not be affected if you are short or over a bit on the flour. And in getting the correct measure you'd probably end up off by only a teaspoon or two.

        Since .84 cups of flour is more than 3/4 cups and less than one cup, measure out three quarters of a cup of flour, then measure two tablespoons (and maybe add in one more teaspoon) of flour and the resulting quantity should be close enough to ".84 cups".

        Accurate measurements are important in baking, but sometimes it can be taken a bit too far.

        1. According to this: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/c..., 6 3/4 oz of cake flour is 1.4 dipped cups. So, if you're scooping and leveling, it should be closer to 1.7 cups.

          You should give in and buy the scale. They are inexpensive and they're faster and less messy than measuring. Moreover, once you've got a recipe you like, you can recreate it reliably, rather than spinning around three times, saying four hail marys and making a blood sacrifice to Hestia, goddess of the hearth fire.

          6 Replies
          1. re: jvanderh

            Haha yea I've already given in and fitted so much kitchen gadgets into my tiny student one bedroom apartment that technically a scale shouldnt be that much room!

            Well normally I do the spoon and level method but since I did the conversion myself I was going to pack the flour since I know spooning makes it weigh less. Plus some other blogs adapted Alton's recipe and used 1c of flour (so I guess they weren't weighing) but they switched the cake flour for AP flour and I want to stick as much as possible to Alton's recipe with the only issue being I didnt know what to make of the 6 3/4oz he gives in his recipe.

            I bake on a weekly basis but its mostly cookies, muffins, quick breads and yeast breads but just started to get into cakes. I'm starting to think cakes are more finnicky in being accurate!

            1. re: alliels

              Ah, yes, student housing. I have fond memories of boiling shrimp in an electric teapot :-). I don't bake many things that require precision- I'm more of a chocolate chip cookie and brownie kind of hound, but I wantonly ignore recommendations for specific types of flour- I bake bread and cakes and everything else with AP.

              1. re: alliels

                jvanderh is right that a scale is fast and endlessly useful. You can also get a quite decent one inexpensively that takes up very little space. I have one that's a different brand but a very similar design to this one, and is easy to fit in my limited kitchen space: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B005OSU...

                1. re: alliels

                  "with the only issue being I didnt know what to make of the 6 3/4oz he gives in his recipe."

                  Baking is a science not an art and I'd always follow ingredient weights precisely. It is possible that Brown has blagged the recipe from somewhere that uses the metric system, where the weight conversion is very close to 200g, and has made an approximation for his American audience.

                  We have no tradition of using cups where I am and I would always use scales for our metric measurements (the one we have will also measure in ounces so its useful for very old recipes).

                  1. re: alliels

                    If you are a student, don't you have a friend who is majoring in chemistry? They have great scales in those departments.

                    1. re: smtucker

                      LOL if I wanted to increase my already high daily exposure to carcinogenic chemicals in the lab then sure! I would have a limitless supply of the most expensive and accurate scales you could ever want =)

                      I think just knowing the levels of radiation found of those things is enough to scare me to keep my lunch as far away as possible!

                2. I moved to the UK a year ago and, out of sheer frustration trying to convert recipes, gave in and bought a scale. Best move I ever made. I've made a little cheat sheet of what common amounts of different flours, sugars, etc weigh, so even when I'm using cup measure recipes, I will default to the scale. Lots less cleanup, much quicker, much more consistent results.

                  1. Well I gave in bought the scale and all I know is that the tres leches cake is amazing (I'd like to think is more due to my improving baking skills than due to the scale!)

                    Guess I'm pushing back my plans on buying a springform pan until next time. If I dont stop myself I would be also buying a crockpot, bread machine and ice cream maker too but it's an issue of space and cluttering!

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: alliels

                      I'm curious where you got the 0.84 cups in the first place. I looked up the recipe on the Food Network site, and the flour is given only in ounces, with no equivalent in cups. So that conversion didn't come from Alton, and as others have said, it is nowhere near accurate. This is the second time today I have come across a ridiculous conversion of weight to measure for flour, so I'm beginning to wonder if there isn't some erroneous source out there that has gotten passed around.

                      1. re: MelMM

                        Alton didn't give a conversion. I used the Google converter to convert from "ounces" to "cups". The scientist in me likes formulas rather than guesstimating how much a cup of flour (loose vs packed vs type of flour) would be.

                        I do know several blogs who adapted Alton Brown's recipe always gave the amount of flour as 1c which is kinda close to 0.84 so thats why I thought of using 1c. The problem was that those adapted recipes opted to switch the cake flour for AP flour which I think is heavier.

                        1. re: alliels

                          The scientist in you is not very observant... I am saying this as someone with a math/physics background. The conversion you found was for fluid ounces, 6.75 fluid ounces out of an 8 fluid ounce cup. This has nothing to do with dry measures.

                          1. re: MelMM

                            I have one of those conversion magnet things that go on the fridge and it says the following:

                            dry measure equivalents: 1cup=8 ounces=1/2 pound

                            liquid measure equivalents: 1cup=8 fluid ounces= 1/2 pint

                            Of course Google doesn't specify if its fluid ounces or not.

                            However am I to assume then that the "cups" we use for measuring things in the USA apply to fluid measurements at all times? and then the "cups" for dry things is just another confusing american-only unit?

                            1. re: alliels

                              Ah ha, that's where you got it!! You can't do it like that. You have to look up the conversion, because the density of different foods varies widely (although for milk and water, a cup is about 8 ounces by weight). For example, a cup of sugar weighs about 7 oz, a cup of flour weighs about 4 or 5 oz, and a cup of oats weighs a little over 3 oz.

                              So, I'm using the density of cake flour (and 20% compaction if you're dipping) when I tell you that 6 3/4 oz= 1.7 cups scooped and leveled or 1.4 dipped cups.

                              1. re: alliels

                                Your conversion magnet thing is wrong. Liquid measures are consistent in that 1 cup will always equal 8 fluid ounces. But in dry volume measurements (which are, AFAIK, unique to North America), the weight of a cup depends entirely on what is being measured because different ingredients have different densities.

                                To see what I mean, take a look at this chart, which shows the weights for 1 cup of various foods: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe...

                                1. re: alliels

                                  Yeah, those dry measure equivalents are really wrong. Throw away your magnet.

                                  1. re: alliels

                                    First let me say that I had a liitle too much wine in me when I made my post above, and didn't write as accurately as I should have. When I said "dry measures", what I really meant was weights. And when I said "liquid measures", what I meant was volume. Of course some people, especially in the US, measure dry ingredients by volume, which is where things get confusing.

                                    When your magnet converts liquid measurments, it is right, but the line converting dry measurements is erroneously assigning a weight to a volume measurement. And as jvanderh has pointed out, you can't do it that way, as the weight of a given volume will vary depending upon what is being measured (type of flour, sugar, etc) and how it is measured (how densely it gets packed into the cup).

                          2. I'm going to be making maple-stout quick bread this weekend from a recipe in Cooking Light (not sure what's light about it, but whatever...) and it calls for 7.88 oz flour. I'm pretty sure customs detains all ounces before they even get to enter Canada (our grams are doing just fine thank you!) so I don't know what I'm going to do about 7.88 of them!


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Jetgirly

                              This is just a wacky amount for most home cooks. However, ounces to grams is a pretty straightforward conversion. My first google hit says 223.394 grams, which is also a ridiculous number, but I am sure your bread won't suffer from rounding.

                              Personally, I would have difficulty trusting any recipe that calls for 7.88 oz!