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Oct 4, 2012 08:06 PM

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:, 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:

                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.