Ever wonder which is the more effective way to bake? Should you use weights or volume measurements? (And if you have a recipe in cups, how do you convert it to grams? Or the other way?)
As I’ve worked through my Grinding Challenge, I have been able to test out both ways of baking, actually using my scale to bake for the first time ever!
I tried things like my mom’s homemade whole wheat biscuit recipe with weights (in other words, I had to figure out how to convert cups to grams), and it went great! Then I started playing around with adapting that recipe to other grains like einkorn and spelt, and then other “new-to-me” biscuit recipes.
At first, I thought it was amazing to bake with weights and was a huge convert – then I ran into some trouble! As usual, you get to learn from my mistakes. 😉
Here is the what I found along my baking journey.
Why Use Gram (Weight) Measurements to Bake Instead of Cups (Volume)
There are three reasons you want to bake by weight:
- Only have to measure once
Let’s unpack those a little – you choose! Want to listen or read?
Watch the Video: Why Bake with Weight Measurements?
Read: Why Bake by Weight? (& Some Challenges)
Baking by Weight Creates Consistency
When you measure flour by volume, it can be affected by many outside factors:
- coarseness of flour
- settling of flour
- climate, elevation, etc. (even your own climate in winter vs. summer!)
All those can impact how much flour actually goes into the recipe, and the variations in the outside factors may mean that your baked good turn out differently.
Measuring using weight allows you to be much more consistent with what the writer of the recipe intended if they have used gram measurements.
You Have Individual Control when you Bake with Weights
Control freaks and Type A bakers, this is for you!
Measuring by weight ensures that your recipe will come out perfectly every single time. Changes in temperature or humidity won’t affect your bread — and when you get the hang of it, you can make notes on your recipes to make them work exactly how you like it.
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Click over to Mockmill, and use the code kitchenstewardship2019 at checkout for a little discount. 😉
Measure Once, Save Dishes
When you’re milling freshly ground grain, measuring by weight means that all you have to do is measure the weight of the whole grain, then grind them and use without having to remeasure after you have ground the flour.
You don’t even need to touch a measuring cup!
Because of these three reasons, it is really nice to be able to bake by weight. BUT – I mentioned I had problems.
If a recipe is already using grams, you’re golden, Easy peasy, no thinking required.
The problem I have found is converting some of my family favorites from measurements to weights (or any recipe that uses volume measurements in cups – which is many of them out there!).
Challenges in Converting Recipes in Cups to Grams
The hardest part about switching to weight is that a simple search online yields a huge variation in what the conversions from measurements to weights really are.
When I first started testing out baking by weight, I was imagining doing a video for you guys where I would say to my phone, “Ok Google!” and ask the weight of a kind of flour, then be off and running with my recipe. It kind of did work that way at first.
Then I discovered that asking Google the same question two different ways gives me two different answers! When I said:
“Ok Google, how much does one cup whole wheat flour weigh?”
Google’s answer was 4 and 1/4 oz or 120 grams. But if I phrased it:
“Ok Google, how many grams are in one cup whole wheat flour?”
Google’s answer was 129.60 grams, plus a bunch of crazy gobbledygook.
How can the same question get you such differing answers? Which is the correct amount to use? I found whole wheat flour weight answers ranging from 113-157 grams!
This is why knowing what the recipe should look like is so important – as is reading the rest of this post for better suggestions on how to convert your recipes from cups to grams! 😉
I guess I lucked out the first time, when Google told me 120 grams is the right amount for a cup of whole wheat flour. I also did well with einkorn and spelt…and then I tried a NEW recipe for biscuits that used whole wheat pastry flour. King Arthur, usually an awesome resource, totally led me astray! 🙁
Here’s how it went down, Instagram story style – big thanks to my 9-year-old daughter for being a good sport and practicing her kitchen skills that she learned in our online cooking class for kids:
By the way, I’d love to see you on IG! The stories are where you get all this crazy experimenting in real time. 🙂 Like, don’t you love the 10 colors of nail polish Leah is sporting in that pic? Yet another one of our product testing adventures, that one to find the best natural nail polish for kids.
I’ve made biscuits before, so I knew the consistency wasn’t really right. King Arthur told me that although whole wheat flour weighs 120 grams per cup, whole wheat pastry flour only weighs 95 grams. That felt off to me, but I wanted to trust KA! When I saw the goopy consistency of the dough, I wanted to fix it but was painfully aware that pastry dough (aka biscuits) doesn’t like being overhandled, so this was probably the worst type of recipe to have to add more flour to.
I tentatively added 20 grams more, but it didn’t help enough:
The finished biscuits were…ok. I could tell they weren’t what the author who wrote the recipe using cups had intended!
I would suggest that you do not try to convert recipes from measurements to weights if you are a novice baker and not familiar with the recipe already. I say this because if you do not know how the recipe was supposed to look you will be unsure if the weights you converted to are actually correct. It would be a true test of trial and error and possibly result in good products or a lot of wasted ingredients.
Converting your recipes from cups to grams may take some time and some guess-and-check techniques. If you have zero brain power for baking, you are probably not a good candidate to take a recipe that’s not already in weight measurements and translate it. BUT if you want consistency, control, and are grinding your own grains, it’s worth a little bit of work up front.
So how do you go about knowing how to change those volume measurements to weight? I got your back!
Watch the Video: How to Use Weight Measurements if Your Recipe is in Cups
Read: Translating Recipes From Cups to Grams
As I explained earlier, a simple Google search found that there really was no consistent weight for a measurement of whole wheat flour. So what are your options?
First, before you jump in of course you need a kitchen scale to do this. 😉
- The exact scale I have is a little different now on Amazon, but this one by the same brand looks more similar (and another color might be less expensive, worth checking)
- Here’s a better one others recommend
- But if you want to say super budget-friendly, here are a few that look like they’d get the job done: Simple Taste, Lucky Stone, 1byone
- The big difference to look for is how small the measurements get – if you want to be able to measure spices and truly never touch a measuring spoon or cup, you’ll need 0.1 gram increments. For me, I just measure the big stuff and 1g increments are plenty.
Now let’s figure out how to use that thing!
1. Use the Average Weight of Flour as a Best Guess
You could take the most common answer found online and call that good. I tried this and used 120 grams as my per cup conversion for whole wheat flour. Most of my recipes turned out, but with other flours and the same method, I had more trouble as you saw above.
So it’s not perfect, but if you’re just baking with AP or whole wheat flour, you will have decent success.
2. Guess and Check
You could try to convert the recipes yourself through guess and test or trial and error.
This will only work well though if it is a recipe you are already familiar with and know what the textures should be like. The guess and check method means you would start with the best guess from the Internet (low end of range), then see if it looks right. As long as it’s a recipe that you are familiar with AND you can add more flour, you can weigh out a bit more, add it, examine, etc. until you have enough.
3. Weigh Your Own & Make a Chart
The best way that I found was to simply measure my own cup of flour, weigh it, and use that in my recipe. I could still usually adjust my recipes to add more flour accordingly, but if it worked, I’d write that down as “my” per-cup weight and use the number of grams in other recipes.
In the video, I demonstrated the variance. Using my Mockmill, I measured 120 grams of hard red winter wheat whole berries just to see how close it came out to be one cup in measurements. I watched in awe as my one cup measuring cup filled to overflowing in a matter of minutes. Whoa! How much “too much” was the Internet’s best guess for me?
I “snowplowed it flat”, as we teach our kids in the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse, so that I had what would normally be considered one cup of flour leveled. The amount that was over my one cup was a full 15 grams! So in my house, one cup of whole wheat flour should really be more like 105 grams – and yet, my baked goods with 120 grams were turning out ok.
To be the most accurate, I’d recommend measuring the flour in different ways (scooping vs. milling directly) and doing it at least twice. Then the first few times you use your own new personal measurement, watch your baked goods carefully to confirm your weight. You may have to tweak it if things aren’t looking right!
Related: Grain mill expert Paul Lebeau says to simply make your recipe with measurements, then weigh each one and write it down. Then it’s right for YOU for sure!
Printable Chart of Grain Weights in Grams
That all kind of exhausted my brain, but I don’t want to scare you away from baking with a scale because it really is supposed to be better, and I promise – it’s not THAT hard. Organizing the information is the hardest part, and I’m here to help. 😉
I’ve already done all the “OK Google” work for you in this free printable and listed out the range of grams per cup for various flours, plus the average. I give you a column for your results when you weigh flour yourself, and an empty column – perhaps for your final answer or baking notes.
You can also find this chart over here, not in a printer-friendly format.
Note for parents: This would be a fun science experiment to do with kids at home! Line up all the grains that you use for flour, mill some, measure a cup and make a note on the chart. Replicate, evaluate, and bake! 🙂
I can’t wait to hear what you think!
The Grinding Challenge Series is getting me to use my Mockmill grain mill! Here’s what we’re covering:
- Intro to the challenge and a video of setting up the Mockmill for the first time
- How to Translate Whole Wheat Recipe to Einkorn (and an interview with an einkorn farmer)
- Bio-Individuality – why it’s both the new face of health and the genesis of this whole project
- How to Translate Baking Recipes to Weights
- Why Baking with Weights is the Best for Kids
- Testing Pizza Dough with Freshly Milled Grain: Whole Wheat, Einkorn, Gluten-free (whole grain and not-whole-grain)
- Interview with a Master Gluten-free Baker
- Testing Tortillas with Freshly Milled Grain: Whole Wheat, Einkorn, Gluten-free
- Why Mill Your Own Gluten-free Grains?
- How to Make a Gluten-free Sourdough Starter
- Whole Grain, Gum-Free Gluten-free Flour Blend (& a bit on whether xanthan gum is bad for you)
- Interview with a Grain Milling Expert
- The Official Kitchen Stewardship Mockmill Review
Recipes We’ve Worked on in the Series:
- Spelt Banana Muffins
- Einkorn Applesauce Muffins (with peanut butter variation)
- 100% Whole Grain Gluten-free Tortillas
- Whole Wheat Pizza
- Crispy Crust Gluten-Free Pizza (amazing!)
- Einkorn Pizza Dough
- 100% Whole Grain Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts (no gum!)
- How to Make a Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
Don’t worry, if you don’t have a grain mill or couldn’t imagine yourself grinding grain yourself, I’ll be sure to address when any of these CAN’T be done with commercial flour. Usually recipes are very compatible!