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How we measure our flour using the “scoop-and-sweep” method

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When people write to tell us that their dough seems “too wet,” the first question I ask is: how are you measuring?  Because we measured with the “scoop-and-sweep” method, not the “spoon-and-sweep” method.–view the video to see exactly how we do it.

American recipes usually are based on volumes, measured with standardized measuring cups.  If you press down into the flour bin (use a flour bin, not the flour’s bag), you’ll compress and get too much flour.  If you use the “spoon-and-sweep” method, where a spoon is used to gently fill the measuring cup before sweeping, you’ll get too little flour into the cup.  Likewise, don’t “aerate” the flour by mixing it or whisking before measuring; that will lighten the cup.

If you do it the way we tested it (and use flours like the standard ones we tested with), you’ll get results like you see in our photos and videos.  You can also consider weighing flour, using the weight equivalents that appear in all our books starting in 2009. We go through the use of the digital scales (we like the Escali or the Salter) in this post from last year.

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102 thoughts on “How we measure our flour using the “scoop-and-sweep” method

  1. Hello – I am using the Master recipe from pg 53 of your New Artisan Bread in five minunes a day.

    My first batch of dough worked out great but only gave me 3 lbs of dough instead of 4 lbs. I measured carefully each time I made a 1lb artisan loaf. Did I under measure flour?

    My second question is more important…I just created my second batch of dough. After letting it rise for about an hour I realized that I only used 6 cups of flour instead of 6 1/2. Should I make up for the 1/2 cup of flour along the line somewhere. Will the dough be any good for bread? Thank you.

    • Hi Lorraine,

      The batch does make just under 4 pounds of dough, so you should get 4 loaves that are an ounce short of a pound. Are you making the bread by weights or cup measures?

      You can add the additional flour to the dough at any point, then you will need to let the dough sit for about an hour to allow the flour to absorb the excess water.

      Thanks, Zoë

  2. It just seems so much more sensible to weigh ingredients, thus completely eliminating “quantity’ issues. I have a digital scale which measure to 1 gram (1/3 ounce) so ability to measure small quantities isn’t an issue. Why persist with “scoops”?

    • Agree… but, most Americans haven’t made the conversion. All of our books except the very first (in 2007) have weights now, in addition to cups.

      • Did I miss something, because my Healthy Bread in 5 only has one recipe with weights and that’s the master recipe only. With that said will I have any problems using the conversion chart on pg 36 to convert the recipes that are in the book.

      • Correct, you didn’t miss anything. HBin5 was our first foray into weights, kind of seeing the response, so we only did it for the Master recipe, and included the conversion chart so people could pencil in their own if they so desired.

        Since HBin5, all our dough formulas in the books have weights…

  3. How can I convert to weight? I have had your first book for 5 years, and love it, although I’ve not used it often, plan on using it more now. Thanks!

    • Hi Jo,

      You may want to pick up our new edition, we’ve added weights for all the recipes!

      All-purpose flour weighs 5 ounces per cup. We obviously can’t list every ingredient, but the AP is the most used ingredient, so hope that helps.

      Thanks, Zoë

  4. Hi Jeff and Zoë!

    I’ve just made the basic recipe from the new Bread in 5. I only made 1/2 batch since it’s just myself and wasn’t sure I would eat 4 loaves in two weeks. Actually I probably could but my waistline wouldn’t agree :)
    The first loaf did come out not quite as brown on the top and not as airy inside. I did realize that I forgot to make slashes in the loaf. Could this be the cause and or is there a reason for the scores? I did measure in weight since I have a scale.. Thanks so much for your response! Laurie

    • Hi Laurie,

      The slashing does help the loaf rise in a more uniform way. The color of the loaf is more dependant on the heat of the oven. You should let your baking stone preheat longer and make sure your oven is running true to temperature by using an oven thermometer.

      If your bread is not as open as you’d like you may find this post helpful: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2008/02/10/qa-dense-crumb

      Thanks, Zoë

      • Thanks Zoe, I have checked out the link you sent and have put the last of my dough out for a longer rise and covered and covered with a large bowl since here in Maine its still a bit chilly and very dry. Also wondering if I could use a large cast iron pan rather then a baking stone? I do have a lodge dutch oven but have seen some concerns over the enamel coming off. More of a concern was using the stone and having it crack regarding the steaming water. Thoughts on the cast iron pan (I know I’ll still use the water but seems to be safer) Thanks again!

      • Hi Laurie,

        You can use any of those options and have a wonderful loaf. I have been baking in my Dutch Oven for years and have never had an issue with enamel coming off. I have only had one stone crack in a dozen years, and it was a very thin, inexpensive one I used on the grill. And baking on a cast iron pan is a great option as well, although you can’t use a peel to get the loaf in and out of the pan, so you should bake on parchment and lower it in like you would a DO.

        Enjoy, Zoë

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