To Sift Or Not To Sift?

Does it really matter if you sift your flour before you measure it or after? In a word: Yes.

When a recipe calls for “1 cup sifted flour,” the flour should be sifted before measuring; whereas “1 cup flour, sifted” should be sifted after measuring. Here’s why: A cup of flour sifted before measuring will weigh 20 to 30 percent less than a cup of flour sifted after measuring—a difference that can make a huge impact on the texture of finished baked goods. The best way to make sure you’ve got the right amount of flour? Weigh it.

Here’s what various types of flour weigh, both sifted and unsifted:

All-Purpose 5 ounces 4 ounces
Cake 4 ounces 3.25 ounces
Bread 5.5 ounces 4.5 ounces

JUST RIGHT: This cake was made by measuring flour by weight before sifting, as the recipe directed.

TOO LITTLE FLOUR: This cake was made by measuring flour by volume after sifting, causing us to use 25 percent less flour by weight, resulting in an overly wet, dense texture.

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. nice to know .

  2. I understand that it still makes sense to publish this but why not also reinforce the idea of weighing dry ingredients instead? Isn’t it time for that idea to finally become mainstream, especially now that high quality digital scales are so affordable?

  3. What if the recipe just says “two cups flour”.

    When do we weigh it?



  4. Nice post, but this highlights a large pet peeve of mine. Namely, the use of a method/preparation (“1 cup flour, sifted”) in the list ingredients. I think there would be much less confusion if the ingredients list just listed the ingredients (!), and the instruction to sift the flour was listed along with the other preparation steps in the recipe.

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