While measuring ingredients may seem simple, the working of some recipes can be confusing and the best technique for measuring ingredients may not always be clear.
To measure liquids-
Always measure liquids by volume, expressed in teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, pints, quarts, and gallons. The number of fluid ounces of volume is the same as the number of ounces in weight. Place a clear glass or plastic spouted measuring cup on a flat surface and bend down so that you're at eye level with it (holding the measuring cup up tends to make the liquid slosh around). Pour in the liquid until it rises to the appropriate mark. For spoon measurements, hold the measuring spoon flat and pour in the liquid until it just reaches the top. Use liquid measuring cups for thick liquids such as honey and molasses too.
To measure viscous, sticky liquids-
To accurately measure honey, molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup, or jelly, lightly oil the measuring cup or spoon first. Or, if the recipe calls for oil, measure the oil first in the same measure. Then, every drop will slide right out.
To measure dry ingredients-
Use a metal or plastic dry cup, or graduated measuring spoons. Rather than dipping the cup or spoon into the ingredient, which compacts its volume, spoon the dry ingredient (such as flour, sugar, cornmeal, or baking powder) into the cup or measuring spoon until it's overflowing. Then, level off the ingredient with the flat side of a knife or a spatula. If the dry ingredient seems packed down in its container, fluff it gently with a spoon before measuring. Ingredients such as rice and nuts can be leveled off with your fingers instead.
To measure brown sugar-
Gently or firmly pack the sugar into a dry measure according to the recipe directions. Then, level it with a straight edge. Brown sugar should hold its shape when emptied from the cup or spoon.
For absolute accuracy with dry ingredients-
If the recipe lists both weights and volumes, go with the weights and weigh the ingredients on a kitchen scale. Dry ingredients have a different weight-to-volume ratio than liquid ingredients. For instance, 1 cup of flour may weigh as little as 4 ounces or as much as 6 ounces, depending on how much flour is compacted into the cup.
To properly interpret recipe measurements-
In an ingredient listing, any instruction that follows the comma should be done after measuring. For example, if a recipe calls for "1 cup sifted flour," sift the flour before measure. If it says "1 cup flour, sifted," measure the flour first and then sift it. If the recipe uses weight instead of volume, it doesn't matter when you sift. Six ounces of flour will always weight 6 ounces whether it's sifted or not; only the volume will change.
To easily measure sticky solid ingredients-
Use the displacement method. That is, if you need half cup peanut butter, fill a 2 cup liquid measure with 1 cup water. Add enough peanut butter to the water for the liquid level to rise to 1.5 cups. Pour off the water before using.
To accurately measure both wet and dry ingredients-
Keep 2 sets of measuring cups and spoons: one for dry ingredients (such as baking powder) and another for wet ingredients (such a vanilla extract). This saves time washing and drying as you assemble your ingredients. If you have only one set of measuring cups and spoons, measure dry ingredients first. Once a measuring vessel is wet, dry ingredients placed in it will stick to the cup or spoon, making it useless for accurate measurement.
To accurately divide doughs or butters into equal parts-
Use a scale to measure the total weight and then, accordingly the divided weight. For instance, to divide a dough into thirds, measure the dough's total weight, divide by 3, and divide the dough into 3 parts with equal weight.
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