How to Measure Various Dry Ingredients
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Sugar

Sugar is measured by scooping the cup or measuring spoon into the container or bag until it is overflowing, then leveling off with the back of a knife.

Brown Sugar

Measure brown sugar by packing it moderately firmly into a dry measure with the back of a spoon. If packed to the right density, the brown sugar should retain the shape of the cup when it is dropped into the other ingredients.

Powdered Sugar

Powdered Sugar usually needs to be Sifted to remove small lumps. It is measured by spooning the sugar into the measuring cup from the container, then leveling off with the back of a knife. 

Flour

When measuring flour it is advisable to first Sift the flour, to remove lumps and any impurities before adding it to the measuring vessel. If you don’t have a sifter you can stir the flour in the storage container or bag to break up lumps. Use a large spoon, and gently spoon flour into the measuring cup or spoon. Do not shake the cup and do not pack the flour. Don't use the measuring cup to scoop the flour out of the container. You can end up with 1.5 times too much flour if you do it that way. One cup of correctly measured flour should weigh about 112 grams. A packed “cup” of flour of flour can weigh as much as 1 oz or more (or less), depending on how you fill the cup. If you are baking, cakes, cookies and pastries, especially, this can make a lot of difference. It won’t matter as much with bread or in cooking.

 Use the back of a knife or a flat bladed spatula, to level off the flour even with the top edge of the measuring cup.  

Baking Powder & Baking Soda

Stir the baking powder and/or baking soda in its own container to break it up. Use your measuring spoon to scoop out the desired amount of powder or soda from the container. Use a knife, flat bladed spatula, or even the edge of the baking powder container to level your baking powder or soda flush with the top edge of the measuring spoon.

Grated or Chopped Ingredients

Read your recipe closely and pay close attention to whether or not an ingredient is to be chopped, diced or minced. They are all different things. Also note whether the ingredients are to be measured before or after chopping. That makes a difference too. To measure things like grated cheese or chopped nuts, pack the chopped or grated ingredient loosely into a dry measuring cup or spoon until they are about even with the rim. Use your best judgment if some pieces are on the line.

Butter

Butter and margarine sticks usually have measurements marked on the sides of the paper wrapping in tablespoon increments. Use a sharp knife to cut straight through the stick, wrapper and all to portion your butter in tablespoon amounts. Generally, a ¼ pound stick of butter or margarine equals ½ of a cup.

Solid Shortening

Solid shortening is measured by packing it into a cup so there are no air spaces, then leveling it off with a knife or flat sided spatula. If you want to avoid, having your measured shortening (or butter) stick to the measuring cup or spoon, and under fill your dish, spray the cup or spoon with a nonstick cooking spray before measuring.

Semi-Liquid Ingredients

Sour cream, peanut butter, and yogurt are examples of semi-liquids. They are not solids and they are not wholly liquids. Because they are too thick to be measured in liquid measuring cups, semi-liquids are measured using dry measuring cups. Pack the semi-liquid moderately firmly into the measuring vessel and then level it off with the back of a knife. Use a rubber scraping spatula to scrape the semi-liquid out again. Spraying the measuring cup with non-stick spray before filling it with a sticky semi-liquid like peanut butter helps get the ingredient out again. You can also measure some semi-liquid ingredients with the Liquid Displacement Method for measuring where you use arithmetic and another liquid to simply the measurement taking process.