question about weighing the flour?

Hi — your book made our Thanksgiving! My grandmother always made cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving and I had let the tradition go because they were so much work. But this year I saw the NYT article, ran out to buy the book, and we had cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving dinner to my sister’s and my daughter’s delight. Thanks so much.

Here’s my question: I went through a sourdough phase awhile back and got used to measuring flour with a scale. I’m excited about trying it again with your dough formulas. Is there an equivalent you’d suggest for weighing flour(s)? Different books seem to vary in what they consider the weight equivalent of a cup of flour. I’d appreciate any suggestions and again, thanks so much.

Anne

Hi Anne,

I am so happy to hear that you made the cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving! I did too. This year I caramelized some sliced pears and rolled them in with the sugar filling for the dough. It was very tasty and gorgeous!

Great question about weighing flour!
We considered writing the entire book with both weights and cup measures, but in the end we decided that too few of us bakers are actually scaling out our ingredients. It is, as you know the only way to get a truly accurate measurement. Then again we claim for this book it just doesn’t matter that much and that seems to be true!!!

Having said that…the weight is about 5 ounces per cup of all-purpose flour. The ‘master” recipe which requires 6 1/2 cups of all-purpose is equal to 2#.

Perhaps someday we will convince every home baker to use a scale and then we will reprint the book with weights. Until then I hope this helps!

Very best and enjoy the book and all the bread! Zoe

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If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with others using one of the social sharing buttons above. Thanks, Jeff and Zoë

38 thoughts on “question about weighing the flour?

  1. Hi Zoe and Jeff,
    Thanks for putting together this brilliant book — I love it!

    I too shared Anne’s concern when I first read your recipes. I seem to be cursed with an enormous amount of variation by weight when I measure the flour by volume. I think one thing that would be a huge help in guiding the readers would be if you post pictures of what a perfectly balanced, an over-wet and an over-dry freshly made dough would look like.

    Thanks again for the wonderful book.

    Ash

  2. My family loves your bread recipe! But, I do have a question: Is there any reason to use “bread flour” instead of “All Purpose Flour” in your basic bread recipe? What would the difference be in the bread?

    Thanks

  3. Hi Jeff,
    I’m glad you are enjoying the bread. Using Bread flour increases the protein in the flour. Higher protein means it will absorb more water and will be a drier dough. For some of the recipes such as Pain d’Epi (p.41)and bagels (p.122) we do recommend bread flour because the drier dough is easier to form into certain shapes. For most of the bread we like the wet dough for its crumb and overall flavor when storing for long periods.
    Thanks, Zoe

  4. Look on the side a wheat flour package where the ingredients are listed. It shows the number of quarter cups in the package for given bag weight.Divide the bag weight in ounces by the number of quater cups given and mulyiply that amount by 4. That will tell you the flour company’s estimate of the weight of i cup of flour in ounces. For example, Gold Medal estimates 76 quater cups per 80 ounces of wheat flour. 80/76 = 1.052 oz per quater cup times. Therefore 1 cup of gold medal wheat flour is estimated to weigh 1.052 x 4 or 4.208 ounces.

  5. I am an old time home bread baker,who read your recipe in the N.Y.T. I had to run out and purchase your book. How-ever I am having trouble with your dough. It is too “slack”
    It sticks to my hands and I have trouble when I want to cloak it. I have been weighing my flour, I leave it in the refrig. for 24 hrs and still it is impossible to handle. What am I doing wrong
    I have since received a copy of “cooks magazine” they have a similar reicpe which is the greatest. I would like to receive furthur instructions.
    thanks

  6. Hi Jessie:

    Sometimes experienced bakers have more trouble with our approach than newcomers. There are a couple of possibilities:

    1. Since you’re experienced, you may be trying to handle the dough too much, leading to sticky fingers. Use lots of flour, and handle it for about 30-60 seconds.

    2. The protein content of your flour may be too low– protein absorbs water. Are you using bleached flour? Bleaching decreases the protein content. About 10 or 11% protein works well for our recipes, and absorbs water nicely. Pillsbury unbleached all-purpose may be closer to 9% (closer to a bleached product), and may give some users trouble.

    3. For whatever reason, you may need to increase your flour. Try going up by 1/8 to 1/4 cup and see what happens… let us know.

    Jeff

  7. Jessie:
    One other thing I just thought of… our recipes were extensively tested with cup-measures. Though we’re pretty confident in the weight equivalents, you might want to revert to old-reliable cup-measures. Could there be something wrong with your scale? Jeff

  8. I just got your book in the mail today and was eager to try out the recipe. I have 2 questions. First, is it possible to convert the recipe to baker’s percentage? I have always weighed my ingredients and was a bit uncomfortable with the cups and spoons. In fact, I tried to convert it myself and here’s my calculations: 32oz flour 100%, 25oz water 78.1%, 6.4oz salt 2%, 10g yeast 1.16% Second, my oven is notoriously inaccurate (off by 50F) and am a bit worried about 20 minutes of preheating would not yield enough heat to bake the bread in the indicated time.
    Thanks.

  9. Ida: Baker’s percentage is a nice weight-based technique for bread-baking professionals who are making large quantities, but I worry about weighing very small quantities of salt and yeast… is your scale accurate enough to be comfortable with that? But of course, it’s fine to use Baker’s Percentage. In Baker’s Percentage, each ingredient’s weight in a recipe is expressed as a percentage of the flour weight, and the flour weight is always expressed as 100%. That’s a bit counter-intuitive if you’re not used to it– obviously the percentages exceed 100. But if you’re comfortable with this approach, go for it—I didn’t check your math :-)
    Then, about your oven, it sounds like you really should use an oven thermometer and go by that. We found that if the oven temp is accurate, you can get away with a short pre-heat. If you have any doubt and you have the time, by all means pre-heat for longer.
    Jeff

  10. Jeff and Zoe,
    Sue Doeden, who writes a food column for our Bemidji Pioneer newspaper, mentioned your book in a recent column.
    Having been a follower of “Beard on Bread” for the past 15 years, we quickly ordered your book. We have had it for only a week, and have already made 4 batches of dough. We use “Dakota Maid” all purpose flour, which works very well. Thank you so much for the book. It has allowed me to make the breads I have been trying to make for 15 years!
    As owners of a food-based business, called “Summer Kitchen Supplies”, we would love to add your book to our inventory. We are moving into a new facility which allows us to make foods for retail sale, along with supplies for those who process their own foods. We are set up for making smoked and cured meats, but now are considering adding an oven for breads. Having lived in a Francophone African country, and having eaten our way through Paris, my wife and I know just what you are talking about when you mention the French and their love for food.!
    Thanks again.
    Mark

  11. Hi Mark,

    I’m so happy you are enjoying the book and all the bread.

    Your business sounds fantastic. I am in full support of a shop that is making their own food and baking great bread. I’ve talked to a few people that are adapting our method to their commercial needs. I’ll be very interested to hear about your experience.

    Thank you for adding our book to your inventory!

    Best of luck in your new location. I will be sure to check it out when I’m in the area.

    Best, Zoe

  12. I, AT LAST, have the book! (Was on a waiting for several weeks for 2 copies, for myself and my daughter.) I am so excited, and made a batch of the dough to bake tomorrow. Does the size of the broiler pan make any difference? I would rather use a very small one I have rather than the big one that comes with the oven. I would love to make some little mini-Ciabattas or sandwich rolls, too. Obviously, bake a shorter time — anything else, suggestions on how long?
    Thanks, Linda

  13. Hi Linda,

    I’m so glad you finally got your books!

    Your broiler tray should be just fine. You just need something to hold water, to create steam.

    For your smaller loaves I’d say to check them after about 20 minutes for the color. When they are nice and deeply browned they are done. The “caramelized onion and herb dinner rolls” (p. 108) talks more about how to bake small loaves.

    Enjoy! Thanks, Zoe

  14. Hi,
    I have made severals doughs with very different results. However, the most problems I have here (in germany) is, that we are just not used to American weighing and volume measurements. One cup flour weighs less than 1 cup water and we usually don

  15. Vesile:

    We’ll do a more complete version of this at some point in the future, but here are some metric weight equivalents for the master recipe:

    6.5 cups AP flour = 925 grams
    3 cups water = 725 grams
    1.5 tablespoons yeast = 14 grams
    1.5 tablespoons salt = 25 grams

    Jeff

  16. Hi, I also am having trouble getting a dough that can be shaped. Tried the basic and the epi recipes both. I will try going by weights and also adding a bit more flour – I am just nervous about adding too much. The taste was wonderful – I eventually used a banneton, but I would love to get make the epi, which I have made with other recipes – so much fun at dinner.
    We have a discussion going on the Breads and Baking forum on recipezaar.com, btw – feel free to drop in!

  17. Duonyte: If you’re convinced it’s too wet with whatever flour you’re using, and you’re also sure that you’re adequately “cloaking” the dough (see our “Videos” tab), it’s OK to decrease the water by a little for the next batch. Try a quarter-cup less and see what happens. Alternatively, you can try a higher-protein AP (like King Arthur AP), or even bread flour (anyone’s brand) and keep the water the same. Let us know what happens. Jeff

  18. Firsty, thank you for your wonderful book. I’ve been reading the recipes and have some dough rising now. We’ll have your delicious hot bread for breakfast.
    I have another question about weighing flour. I know the all-purpose flour is 925g per 6.5 cups. Would we use the same 140g per cup for whole wheat and rye flour?
    Cheers,
    Shane

  19. Shane: No, whole wheat and rye weigh out a little differently:

    Rye: 130 grams/cup
    Whole wheat: 145 grams/cup

    Curious where you’re writing to us from? I wish we’d have switched to the metric system when we had the chance in the U.S. We tried and failed in 1976 or so. Jeff

  20. How do you get 4 one pound loafs when the total weight of the dough is a little over 3.5 pounds? 2 pounds flour, 1.5 pounds water and a couple of oz for yeast and salt. Plus some of the dough sticks to the hands and mixer hook.

  21. Hi Darlene,

    We had intended these to be approximate sizes for the loaves, which is why we wanted to add the visual of a grapefruit sized loaf. Some of the doughs will equal 4 one pound loaves exactly and some will be over or under by just a few ounces.

    In the next book we will be more sensitive to the fact that more and more home bakers are using scales.

    Thanks for your feedback! I hope you are enjoying the bread.

    Zoë

  22. Thanks, I’m making bread for a church bake sale and wanted to make sure the loaves are all the same so I weighed the dough. First three are bigger than the last one, that’s when I did the calculation. I’m going to up size the batch, 28 oz water to 38 oz of flour. I used the parbake method in the book so I have bread in my freezer to finish baking and then take to the sale. I’ve been telling my friends about your book and was surprised that many of them already have it. I took a loaf along with some home made soup to my neighbors who just returned to Minnesota after wintering in Alabama. She was so taken with the bread that she’s going out to buy your book.
    I’m off to buy more flour so I can make the sticky caramel rolls again. Baking is the perfect thing to do on a rainy cold day here in Minnesota, but you know that.

  23. Hi Darlene,

    Great luck to you at the bake sale. I’m sure you will sell all of your bread!

    Yes this weather has inspired a day of constant baking here too.

    Thanks, Zoë

  24. I love your book and I’m excited that bread baking has become a very common occurrence in my kitchen instead of a rare treat.
    I adore semolina bread, but I weighed the semolina flour out to 5 ounces per cup and it seems too wet – should I use a different weight?

  25. I haven’t weighed out the semolina. I know the recipe on page 80 works with the cup-measures that we gave there, so long as you use the scoop-and-sweep method (page 26).

    If you’re finding things too wet, just use a little more flour, but increase by small increments and see what you think.

  26. Jill: in The Bread Bible (Beranbaum), it says that durum semolina weighs 5.5 ounces per cup (scoop-and-sweep measured). There’s your problem!

  27. I just buy your book, and I am trying to get started with the master recipe but,
    I am a bit confuse with the whole “cup measuring method” describe in your book. Are the cups used for measuring water and flour the same?
    As far as I understood, you are using 5oz = 150 milliliter cups for measuring flour, right? (I read this in a comment from Zoe)

    Now, In a previous post Jeff sugested the following quantities:

    6.5 cups AP flour = 925 grams
    3 cups water = 725 grams
    1.5 tablespoons yeast = 14 grams
    1.5 tablespoons salt = 25 grams

    Indeed, if we take 6.5 (5oz[weight])cups of AP flour this is around the 925 grams. But this this is not the case for the water, as in this case water on the master recipe would be around 450grams.

    So what I think is that the cups you are using for measuring water are bigger 8oz perhaps.

    I really would like to use the cup-measuring method as I don’t have a very precise scale, so could you please tell me exactly what kind of cups are you using?
    Cheers

  28. Measuring cups for liquids and solids should measure out the same volumes, but they are different-looking– you level a solid cup with a butterknife edge. For the liquid cup, you look through the glass at the liquid level.

    5 ounces of unbleached all-purpose flour (about 10% protein) measures as one cup. But no, one cup is about 235 to 240 ml.

    That’s the source of the error, I think.

    Sorry for the confusion!

  29. I am making your Gluten-Free Crusty Boule and I found that I had to use alot of extra flour because the dough was really wet. Now it is like play dough but a bit softer. This is the first time I have ever made Gluten bread. What consistency should I be looking for in the dough once it has been all mixed? Thanks and Merry Christmas…

    • Christiane: Yes, you do need to dust with lots of flour to keep it from sticking to your hands and work surfaces; that’s normal. The end result remains a very soft dough, without apparent resiliency. It just doesn’t feel like wheat dough…

  30. Hi,
    I have recently discovered your HBin5 book in the library and subsequently requested a copy for my birthday :-) I am really enjoying trying all the recipes and as I’m using mainly organic ingredients we’re saving heaps of money in the process too! I am having great success with the standard loaves but recently tried the Toasted Millet and Fruit Bread on pg 134 and it was a disaster. I made the full batch and it didn’t seem to rise during the initial rising so I am assuming this is where it all went wrong! Despite this, I went ahead and tried to bake it (after waiting over 24 hours after the initial rising period as directed) but although it cooked through, there was no air in it to speak of – it was quite chewy actually!! Is there anything obvious that I did wrong? I did everything such as the mixing and water temp etc. like I have done with all the other doughs which have worked. As I’m in New Zealand I don’t have a US cup measurer so I’m weighing all the ingredients so had to take a guess at the amount of millet and used 185g. It was also probably still quite warm from the toasting when I added it to the flour etc. – would that have made a difference? I’d be grateful for any pointers as we really liked the taste and I still have a load of millet to use up ;-)
    Many thanks…

    • Hi Catherine,

      Did the dough rise at all, or just not much? I’m wondering if it is a yeast issue? My other guess is that the dough was too dry. What kind of flour are you using?

      Let me know and we will try to fix it. Thanks, Zoë

  31. Hi Zoe (& Jeff!),
    Thanks for coming back to me so quickly, what a great service to your readers :-)
    The dough hardly rose at all, if anything, to be honest. When I came to use it, it felt like a thick and heavy fruit cake type mix rather than a light bread dough.
    I am using organic, stoneground flours for both the whole wheat and unbleached all-purpose.
    The yeast I have is an active dried yeast. I just made up a batch of wholewheat and flaxseed dough using the same yeast (it’s a container rather than packets so no question of different batch etc) and this is rising beautifully…
    I’m guessing this doesn’t help much but if you have any thoughts will look forward to hearing them :-)
    Thanks, Catherine

  32. I’m guessing that the millet is just way more than what we’d intended– all bets are off given the problem with measurement. First thing I’d try would be to decrease that, maybe by half, and see how it performs. Or, try increasing the water, as zoe suggested above.

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